Even HR executives have to reinvent themselves to survive

New trends, technology, and modern changes are creating concerns for the trained level of HR professionals. With different changes continuously entering companies, HR professionals are having to go through different pieces of training. Read this blog post to learn about HR professionals having to learn about new and modernized paces.


HR chief executives by and large are ill-equipped to meet the needs of the modern workplace, according to a new report of 500 top executives.

The irony is the HR profession is perhaps entering a golden age for HR leaders, as the role shifts beyond administrative and process-related functions to work that is at the very core of a company’s business strategy to keep top talent.

And yet because the workplace is changing so fast to adapt to technological and demographic shifts, the study by SHRM and Willis Towers Watson found that the role of HR hasn’t been able to keep pace to train the latest generation of HR leaders.

Because work functions are constantly in flux, training and development can no longer be considered episodic events but instead will require perpetual reskilling to stay relevant. The study noted that between 2003 and 2013, more than 70% of the Fortune 1000 companies changed and were replaced by nimbler firms.

Most HR executives or chief people officers, or CPOs, will need to reskill to stay relevant — and do so quickly, according to HR People + Strategy, the group’s network of business and thought leaders in human resources.

“As the pace of innovation and technology in the workplace accelerates, CPOs will need to reinvent themselves,” says the study’s co-author Suzanne McAndrew, the global head of talent of Willis Towers Watson. “With disruption on the horizon, organizations will require strong, visionary people leaders who can think through the people and talent strategy, and work with management on the business strategy.”

Most executives “are not prepared,” McAndrew says.

“We’re only going to get things done if we have the right people, the right talent in the right functions with the right goals,” Upwork CEO Stephanie Kasriel says in the study. “That to me is the role of HR, to ensure that we have the right people strategy in order to inform the business strategy.”

The study reviewed key changes shaping HR functions for human resources leaders and also found:

•Virtually all respondents (99%) believe HR executives must have the agility and courage to change, yet only 35% said today’s leaders are prepared to respond.
•More than nine in 10 respondents (94%) say it’s important to explore the development of future HR leaders, but only about a third (35%) agree that future staff are receiving the training they’ll need to succeed.
•Only one-third of respondents (36%) are prepared to think about how technology can be used to execute work in the future; only a quarter (26%) say they have the technical acumen to evaluate new technologies.

HR leaders can do five things to help drive change, including acting as an advocate for change and agility, developing digital technology to improve HR functions, using automation to foster new skills and reinvention for staff, focusing on workplace culture and leadership and elevating HR decision-making to include more analytics, the study found.
Alexander Alonso, chief knowledge officer at SHRM, noted that HR executives have the greatest potential to foster the evolution of enterprises by building up their own expertise to meet future workforce demands.

Respondents also recognize much progress is still needed with digital enablement and understanding how to apply digital technology and automation in the workplace. Only 42% had a favorable opinion of their organization’s progress when it comes to embracing technology that builds a consumer experience for employees.

“While CPOs don’t need to be technology experts, they must understand how changing technology can impact work and the workforce,” says Ravin Jesuthasan, a managing director at Willis Towers Watson and co-author of the study.

SOURCE: Siew, W. (08 January 2020) "Even HR executives have to reinvent themselves to survive" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/even-hr-executives-have-to-reinvent-themselves-to-survive


Implementing AI Technology for HR

Artificial intelligence (AI) has taken the tasks of collecting, copying, entering and checking data off of HR professional's hands. With advancements in technology, AI has become a way to open a variety of opportunities to influence a company's workflow. Read this blog post to learn about artificial intelligence and how it's developing HR managers and leaders.


When HR managers embark on implementing artificial intelligence (AI) into their company's workflow, they'll be grappling with a disruptive technology that changes the way people from HR leaders to recruiters to front-line employees work.

That may be why PwC's latest Human Resource Technology Survey of 599 HR and information technology (IT) leaders worldwide shows that those leaders are cautious about leveraging the technology to drive HR functions.

In fact, 63 percent of those surveyed have not yet implemented artificial intelligence for HR, and many cite various reasons that influenced their decision not to do so, including:

•Cost of implementation.
•Complexity of integration into the existing IT infrastructure.
•Lack of skilled staff.
•Lack of compelling use cases that can be tied to business outcomes.

But while they are hesitant to jump into using AI, 42 percent of respondents said they plan to implement AI for HR over the next one to three years. The technology opens significant possibilities.

"Human resource executives want their teams to focus on meaningful tasks, such as interpreting data, decision-making, storytelling and strategies that enrich the worker experience, which is what AI solutions can offer. Without AI, HR professionals are relegated to collecting, copying, entering, re-entering and checking data," said Mike Brennan, president of Leapgen, a Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based HR consulting firm.

HR leaders will have to find the right tools, team with the right partners, and find the best opportunities to apply AI to HR functions without causing employee anxiety.

Schneider Electric's Story

Andrew Saidy, vice president of talent digitization, talent acquisition and mobility at Schneider Electric, a multinational company based in Paris, oversaw the implementation of an AI-driven platform that revolutionized the talent mobility and career development processes at his company.

Three important factors pushed Schneider Electric, which employs approximately 144,000 employees across 100 countries, to make the change. First, more than half of Schneider's employees are Millennials, a generational group whose members change jobs more frequently than workers in other age groups. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average job tenure of Millennials is 2.8 years.

Second, 47 percent of Schneider employees surveyed in exit interviews said they were leaving because they couldn't find their next opportunity within the organization.

Third, the process of matching employees to job opportunities within the company was laborious, cumbersome and lengthy.

"Recruiters were spending weeks waiting for responses, making phone calls, sifting through CVs and selecting which candidates would be chosen for interviews," Saidy said.

With a clearly defined use case for its AI strategy, the company chose to develop a cloud-based, AI-driven talent market. The HR team had to decide whether to build or buy a solution.

"This is an idea we toyed with at the start because we are a technology company, we are a digital company, and we are leaders in digital energy management," Saidy said. "We have a strong team of enterprise IT developers, and we could have had the ability to build a talent platform internally as opposed to buying something outside of the market."

What surprised Schneider's HR team was that there are many vendors offering AI solutions for HR tasks, but having so many AI solution providers to choose from presents other issues.

"You have to be careful when you select a company for your AI project," he said. The vendors "need to be financially stable" and need to have "a clear product road map and customers with proven success. You can't just go for whoever is claiming to provide a solution."

After a three-month search, which included testing vendors' algorithms, Schneider's HR and digital teams decided to buy an internal talent product from Gloat, an Israeli technology company. The platform, called Open Talent Market, leverages AI to match employee resumes with open positions, including long-term jobs and short-term projects.

Part of the software evaluation involved letting employees register on the site and upload their education and experience to get a sense of whether they thought the tool was intuitive, easy to use and engaging. Schneider used a Net Promoter Score to assess employees' experience and enthusiasm for the tool.

The company monitored the number of employee registrations, short-term and long-term jobs that appeared on the site, and successful matches of qualified employees to job posts.

Schneider's HR team also tested the algorithm's ability to adequately address bias and evaluated its security features. Schneider chose software that doesn't require candidates to enter information related to gender or race, or place or date of birth.

Keeping in mind the difficulties Amazon experienced when it built an AI-driven recruiting system that perpetuated gender bias, Schneider is mindful that many of its jobs such as engineer, field technician or electrical engineer have typically been filled by male candidates, Saidy said.

Schneider's technical team also carefully considered the software's security capabilities, measures to protect from data breaches and secure integrations. This was particularly important when considering that Open Talent Market is connected to the company's applicant tracking system, learning management system and human resource information system, as well as LinkedIn.

Recruiter Adjustment

Since its launch in September 2018, Open Talent Market has put Schneider's managers in the driver's seat and has changed the role of some of the company's 200 recruiters—an adjustment that hasn't always been smooth, Saidy said.

"Initially, some recruiters had reservations on the Open Talent Market because of the way it changed their jobs [by giving more control to hiring managers] and took away from recruiters the tasks of sourcing and shortlisting internal candidates, now done by the platform."

Making sure recruiters continue to be motivated, engaged and enthusiastic about their job as their tasks change was a key consideration, Saidy said.

"To address this, we focused on why we put the Open Talent Market in place, what is in it for the recruiters, and how they reinvest their time consulting and supporting managers as well as employees' internal mobility. Keeping the lines of communication open with the teams is an especially important pillar of a successful change adoption."

SOURCE: Lewis, N. (09 January 2020) "Implementing AI Technology for HR" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/technology/Pages/Implementing-AI-Technology-HR.aspxA


9 things HR needs to know to curb bullying at work

Bullying doesn't stop after middle school, high school or college. A national survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 19 percent of employees are bullied. Read this blog post to learn more about bullying in the workplace.


When people think of bullying, they may envision the stereotypical middle school setting, where a mild-mannered teen is shoved into a locker, ostracized or, nowadays, trolled on social media. But bullying doesn't stop after middle school; it continues into adulthood and shows up in the workplace on a disturbingly frequent basis.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute's (WBI) 2017 National Survey, 19% of U.S. employees are bullied, and another 19% witness it. All told, the survey says that 60.3 million Americans are affected by this behavior in the workplace.

WBI's definition of workplace bullying is "repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators." It includes threats, humiliation, intimidation, work sabotage and verbal abuse, WBI Director Gary Namie told HR Dive.

Not illegal — just expensive

Bullying and harassment share similar traits of severe or pervasive and unwelcome conduct that creates a hostile work environment. Although harassment is against the law, bullying is not, Heather Becker, partner at Laner Muchin, told HR Dive in an email. "The difference would be that bullying can happen to anyone for any reason. Technically, unlawful harassment is conduct that occurs because of an individual's protected characteristic, such as gender, race, national origin," she said. Bills that would prohibit workplace bullying have been introduced in at least 30 states but none have been made law.

But even if bullying is not unlawful, it comes with a cost. Individuals who are the targets of repeated abusive behaviors can begin to have physical and psychological issues related to high anxiety, depression and stress, Kim Shambrook, vice president, Safety Education, Training and Services for the National Safety Council, told HR Dive.

"As we as a country and society look at total wellness, it's definitely becoming a big issue. People who experience stress at work have other symptoms. They can't sleep; don't want to go to work. There are all sorts of residual effects," she said.

Those effects can impact the employer, she explained. Whether an employee is directly affected or even affected as a witness, the damage can decrease workplace safety and employee morale and increase absenteeism and turnover, Shambrook said.

What HR needs to know

1. Bullying is complicated — even for the aggressor

There's a continuum of abrasive behavior, Linda Beitz, owner of Solutions Through Dialogue, told HR Dive. At one end of the spectrum are people who are slightly annoying but don't cause stress to others. At the far end of the continuum are the rare people with aberrant behavior. Most issues are found in people in the middle of the spectrum, who cause organizational stress to co-workers, sufficient to interrupt organizational functioning, she said.

"They're people who have a desire to achieve results and think that they are motivating people, utilizing abrasive behaviors," Beitz said. She suggested using people-first language of a "human being with abrasive behaviors" instead of the word "bully," which perpetuates labeling and name-calling. But that doesn't mean the behaviors should be tolerated, she added.

2. A bullying situation says more about the organization than it does the individuals

Certain company cultures are ripe for bullying, Namie said. "It's the establishment of a competitive environment, but not healthy competition, where you could end up with a win-win. We set up a zero-sum competitive world. [For example,] 'I must obliterate you in order for me to enjoy success,'" he explained. In this winner-takes-all scenario, the majority who don't win are demoralized while the single individual is artificially pumped up, he said.

3. A lack of consequences reinforces bullying

When the bully also is a valued employee, there is a systematic, historical problem of organizational leaders failing to address behavior, mainly out of fear and conflict avoidance, Namie said. When a person with aggressive behavior is promoted and praised, neither they nor the organization demonstrates concern for the wellbeing of the other employees, he said.

4. HR cannot stop bullying

This change must come from the top. HR can ensure policies and procedures are established and communicated, but consistently implementing the policies, regardless of the employees involved, requires action from senior leadership, Namie said. HR, for its part, can try to convince senior leaders that the financial cost of bullying — from payouts, absenteeism, presenteeism, health issues, medical expenses, workers' compensation, safety, turnover and productivity — are not worth ignoring abusive behavior.

5. Any reports of bullying — no matter how seemingly minor, must be investigated

Don't turn a blind eye, Shambrook said. "Any report of bullying should be taken seriously." This includes conducting a thorough investigation. "If someone is found to be engaging [in aggressive behavior], there has to be a consequence, and it has to be spelled out in the policy."

6. Everyone needs training to recognize and address bullying

Front-line supervisors, senior leaders and the employee population need to know what to do when they experience or witness bullying. Leaders need to be trained in emotional intelligence, Beitz said; encourage people to speak up to create a healthier organization, Shambrook added, and ensure employees know where to turn to do so.

7. Improvement is possible

Abrasive employees who are motivated to change can develop new skills, Beitz said. If they are open to feedback and the recognition that their behavior isn't useful — and that there are negative consequences for continuing that behavior — they may be willing to learn new methods. "It's a four-step process: First, waking them up to how they are showing up as a leader or manager. Second, helping them to see the impact that their behavior is having on others. Third, equipping them with an understanding of what might be driving their behavior, and developing their capacity to accurately read the emotions that others are feeling as a result of their actions. And, fourth, helping them to develop new strategies to get the results they are looking for without causing distress in co-workers and the organization," she said.

8. Targets need support

Unfortunately, most people who are targeted (65%, according to WBI) lose their jobs through no fault of their own, Namie said. They might be fired, reassigned or (somewhat) voluntarily resign. Providing support for the person targeted is critical, Shambrook added. It is vital to encourage the person to use available employee assistance programs, keep them updated on progress, let them know when the issue is resolved and check on them afterward.

9. The "eggshell skull" rule applies

Do not ignore a complaint under the assumption that an employee is overly sensitive. Even if abusive behavior damages one person but not others, the organization is still responsible for that individual who is affected. The eggshell skull rule says that damages aren't any less because one person may be more susceptible to injury.

Workplace bullying can be entrenched in a culture, and it takes a full-scale approach to stop it, but ignoring or minimizing the behaviors or delaying consequences is detrimental to everyone in the organization.

"You don't pay attention to it until it touches your life," Namie said, "but we can't wait until everyone has been personally bullied in order to make it stop."

SOURCE: DeLoatch, P. (7 October 2019) "9 things HR needs to know to curb bullying at work" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/9-things-hr-needs-to-know-to-curb-bullying-at-work/563639/


Labor Department Issues Final Rule on Calculating 'Regular Rate' of Pay

The New Year is bringing changes to the current "regular rate" of pay definition. Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor updated the FLSA definition of the regular rate of pay. The final ruling will take effect on January 15, 2020, and will provide modernized regulations for employers. Read this blog to learn more.


Employers now have more clarity and flexibility about which perks they can include in workers' "regular rate" of pay, which is used to calculate overtime premiums under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule that will take effect Jan. 15, 2020.

This is the first time in more than 50 years that the DOL has updated the FLSA definition of the regular rate of pay. Here's how the new law will impact employers.

Reduced Litigation Risk

Currently, the regular rate includes hourly wages and salaries for nonexempt workers, most bonuses, shift differentials, on-call pay and commissions. It excludes health insurance, paid leave, holiday and other discretionary bonuses, and certain gifts.

Many employers weren't sure, however, if certain perks had to be included in the regular rate of pay. So instead of risking costly lawsuits, some employers were choosing not to offer competitive benefits.

Employers were concerned that, for example, if they offered gym memberships to employees, they would have to add the cost to the regular-rate calculation, explained Kathleen Caminiti, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Murray Hill, N.J., and New York City. The new rule says that gym membership fees and other similar benefits don't have to be included.

The new rule is intended to reduce the risk of litigation and enable employers to provide benefits without fearing that "no good deed goes unpunished," Caminiti said.

The final rule largely tracks the proposed rule, noted Susan Harthill, an attorney with Morgan Lewis in Washington, D.C. But it includes more clarifying examples and provides additional insight into the DOL's views on specific benefits, she said.

This rule was relatively uncontroversial, said Tammy McCutchen, an attorney with Littler in Washington, D.C. She noted that only a few employee and union groups commented against the rule, and those comments addressed very specific points.

"Employees like these benefits, too," she said.

Clarifications

The rule clarifies that employers may exclude the following perks from the regular-rate calculation:

  • Parking benefits, wellness programs, onsite specialist treatments, gym access and fitness classes, employee discounts on retail goods and services, certain tuition benefits, and adoption assistance.
  • Unused paid leave, including paid sick leave and paid time off.
  • Certain penalties employers must pay under state and local scheduling laws.
  • Business expense reimbursement for items such as cellphone plans, credentialing exam fees, organization membership dues and travel expenses that don't exceed the maximum travel reimbursement under the Federal Travel Regulation system or the optional IRS substantiation amounts for certain travel expenses.
  • Certain sign-on and longevity bonuses.
  • Complimentary office coffee and snacks.
  • Discretionary bonuses (the DOL noted that the label given to a bonus doesn't determine whether it is discretionary).
  • Contributions to benefit plans for accidents, unemployment, legal services and other events that could cause a financial hardship or expense in the future.

"Unlike the upcoming changes to the FLSA white-collar regulations, which will have the force of law, this final rule is predominately interpretative in nature," said Joshua Nadreau, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Boston. "Nevertheless, you should review these changes carefully to determine whether any of the clarifications are applicable to your workforce."

Employers who follow the rule can show that they made a good-faith effort to comply with the FLSA.

Paying Overtime Premiums

Under the FLSA, nonexempt employees generally must be paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked beyond 40 in a week. But the regular rate includes more than just an employee's base hourly wage. Employers must consider "all remuneration for employment paid to, or on behalf of, the employee," except for specific categories that are excluded from the calculation, such as:

  • Discretionary bonuses.
  • Payments made when no work is performed, such as vacation or holiday pay.
  • Gifts.
  • Irrevocable benefits payments.
  • Payments for traveling expenses.
  • Premium payments for work performed outside an employee's regular work hours.
  • Extra compensation paid according to a private agreement or collective bargaining.
  • Income derived from grants or options.

The final rule updated and modernized the items that can be excluded from the calculation, Caminiti said. For example, the prior regulation referenced only holiday and vacation time, whereas the new rule recognizes that many employers lump together paid time off. The rule clarifies that all paid time off will be treated consistently as to whether it should be included in the regular rate.

The DOL eliminated some restrictions on "call-back" and similar payments but maintained that they can't be excluded from an employee's regular rate if they are prearranged.

The rule also addresses meal breaks, scheduling penalties, massage therapy and wellness programs.

"Some of these benefits didn't exist even a decade ago," McCutchen noted.

Harthill observed that the line between discretionary and nondiscretionary bonuses has created uncertainty and litigation. So the final rule's text and preamble give more examples and explanations about certain bonuses in response to commenters' requests. For example, the final rule provides more clarity about sign-on and longevity bonuses, but the DOL declined to specifically address other types of bonuses commenters asked about.

Action Items

"Now is the time for a regular-rate audit," McCutchen said. Compensation specialists should gather a list of all the earnings codes they're currently using for nonexempt employees, note each one they are including in the regular rate and compare that with the new rule to see if changes need to be made.

Most employers presently are not including paid sick time, tuition reimbursement and other perks in the regular-rate calculation, McCutchen noted, and DOL has confirmed the practice.

Now is also a good time for employers to decide if they want to start providing certain perks that are popular with employees, she said.

Harthill noted that it is important for employers to check whether the relevant state law tracks or departs from the federal law, because state laws might have stricter rules about overtime calculations.

SOURCE: Nagele-Piazza, L. (12 December 2019) "Labor Department Issues Final Rule on Calculating 'Regular Rate' of Pay" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/Pages/Labor-Department-Issues-Final-Rule-on-Calculating-Regular-Rate-of-Pay-.aspx


Tech tools underused for workplace engagement: survey

Did you know: Only 45 percent of employers use technology to improve employee engagement, according to a survey of HR professionals. Read the following blog post to learn more about using technology to enhance workplace engagement.


Just 45% of employers are using technology to improve employee engagement, according to a new survey of thousands of HR professionals in organizations of varying sizes.

The research finding comes from the Next Concept Human Resource Association (NCHRA) and Waggl, a real-time engagement platform. HR tech industry professionals weighed in on the topic at the HR TechXpo 2019 and others as part of the latest “Voice of the Workplace” pulse survey.

Of those respondents, 92% said they would like to create a strong internal culture that affects results. In addition, 81% believed that investing in people-focused programs and skills such as onboarding, performance and employee engagement would help increase revenues and profit margins.

Lisa Hickey, VP of professional development at NCHRA, was “a bit surprised” that only 45% of her group’s members reported that their organizations are using technology to improve employee engagement in the face of business volatility and a tight labor market.

NCHRA and Waggl, both based in the San Francisco Bay Area, also distilled into a ranked list crowdsourced responses to a survey question about social media and gamification platforms as tools to increase employee engagement.

Several caveats were expressed. One HR leader, for example, cautioned that they need to be tied to the type of company and demographics, as well as the extent to which employees are willing to embrace change. Another respondent said it’s important that gamification not be “viewed as a nuisance and a distraction from accomplishing job tasks.”

The bottom line is that giving employees an opportunity to help shape their organization’s culture, experience, vision and execution enables them to “feel more connected to the workplace and empowered to drive change,” according to Alex Kinnebrew, chief marketing officer and head of growth strategy for Waggl.

Benefit brokers and advisers can play a critical role in helping their employer clients bridge the technology gap when it comes to improving employee engagement, Hickey believes. “From designing an offering that represents company goals to securing the best technology to administer the program, brokers are guiding you every step of the way and also helping utilize technology beyond benefits administration that delivers more services and solutions for the company,” she says.

Founded in 1960, NCHRA is the nation’s second-largest HR association — serving more than 30,000 professionals in 23 states and several countries and showcasing more than 100 annual educational events.

Waggl’s Employee Voice platform examines critical business topics that include culture, experience, vision and execution. The company’s management team includes executives from Glassdoor, SuccessFactors and Coupa. Customers include Paychex, eBay, City Electric Supply, UCHealth, American Public Media and Freddie Mac.

SOURCE: Shutan, B. (4 December 2019) "Tech tools underused for workplace engagement: survey" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/tech-tools-underused-for-workplace-engagement-survey


6 steps to enhance your recruiting strategy

According to recent data from PwC, more and more potential employees are turning down job offers because of bad recruitment experiences. Often, when job candidates have a poor experience while applying for a job, they share the details of their encounter with friends, family and social media. Read this blog post for six steps employers can use to enhance their recruitment strategy.


Employers may be contributing to their organization’s bad reputation without even knowing it during the recruiting process

A strong labor market is presenting employees with more options, allowing them to weigh potential employers against each other, and eliminating the need to accept the first offer they get. Unique and inventive recruiting strategies are vital in attracting the right talent to your organization, but more potential employees are turning down job offers because of bad recruiting experiences, according to data from PwC.

Employers can develop some bad habits when it comes to recruiting, like dragging out the process and even ghosting candidates. When potential employees have a poor experience applying for a job with a company, they are going to share the details of that encounter with friends, family and the world at large thanks to social media.

“Job seekers today expect the hiring process to be streamlined, efficient and customized to their personal preferences, with effortless technology and sincere human interactions,” says Bhushan Sethi, a workforce strategy leader at PwC.

However, very few organizations are providing this experience, according to the PwC survey of 10,000 job seekers. Not only can a bad recruiting experience drive candidates away, it can also create lasting damage to an organization’s reputation as an employer.

“Leaders have an opportunity to gain an edge in the battle for talent by delivering a superior recruiting experience to every candidate, even those who don’t receive an offer,” Sethi says.

But there are ways to make a candidate’s recruiting experience more positive, even if they don’t ultimately get an offer. Here are six steps organizations can take to deliver a “first-rate” recruiting experience to potential candidates.

Find a balance between tech and human interaction

The human interactions candidates experience during the recruitment process makes a stronger impression than any digital experience, the survey shows. “Candidates want positive, direct human interaction throughout the recruiting process, whether that’s in person, over the phone or via email,” Sethi says. “Two-thirds of candidates said personalized initial outreach makes them more likely to apply for a position.”

Technology does have an important role to play in the recruiting process. However, recruiting technology is typically designed with the enterprise, not the candidate, in mind, Sethi says. Employers should look to utilize technology that streamlines routine tasks or makes the hiring process easier for job applicants. About 44% of those surveyed by PwC say they’re open to using automation and technology options for routine touchpoints and to get information during the recruiting process. Another 65% said they would like if an organization had an application dashboard so they could track their progress.

Communicate often and keep the process quick

More than half of job seekers (56%) said they would discourage someone else from applying for a job with a company where they had a bad recruiting experience, according to PwC data. A majority of job seekers (92%) said they’ve experienced poor recruiting practices at some point in their career. Candidates pointed out the two most frustrating behaviors by recruiters: dragging out the process by more than a month and recruiters who withdraw communication with no explanation.

“These practices are rampant: 61% of candidates said they’ve simply stopped hearing from an organization during the hiring process,” Sethi says. “And 67% gave up pursuing a role because the recruiting process took too long.”

Ask for social media details

About 50% of job seekers said they’d be willing to share their social media data with potential employers if it helps to determine a better job and organizational fit. Checking out a potential employee’s social media allows HR to understand more about the candidate. But candidates are only willing to share their social media data if the right privacy measures are in place. Recruiters can gain candidate’s trust by being transparent. About 78% of those surveyed by PwC said they expect the recruiting process to be clear on how personal data is used. About 77% of candidates said they wouldn’t apply for a job if they felt their privacy and information wasn’t protected.

Highlight the rewards potential employees most desire

Upskilling, personal flexibility and inclusion are three key aspects of workplace culture that have become more desirable among candidates than salary, according to PWC. Additionally, candidates are willing to give up 11.7% of their salary for more flexibility and training.

Give candidates a way to experience the company’s culture first hand

Today’s candidates are looking for more than a job, the PwC survey notes. They want an employee experience that provides a sense of purpose and pride.

“Culture is so meaningful that 33% of C-suite-level candidates said they’d take a pay cut to work for a mission-driven company that aligns with their ideals,” Sethi says.

It can be challenging for recruiters to provide an accurate sense of a company’s culture. Recruiters can help candidates experience this firsthand by holding networking and other social events.

Always be mindful of your reputation

When candidates have a bad recruiting experience it does more damage than recruiters realize. “It can cause lasting reputational harm and even hurt your chances of hiring the workers who are hardest to find,” Sethi says.

Almost half of candidates (49%) working in high-demand sectors like tech, banking and energy say they would be more likely to turn down a job due to a bad recruiting experience. Of those surveyed by PwC 71% say working for a company with a good reputation as an employer is more important than working for a well-known customer brand.

“That’s good news for small brands jockeying for talent with big-name competitors,” Sethi says. “You can gain an edge by cultivating and promoting a strong, positive reputation. It’s also a call to action for bigger brands: you can’t rely on name alone to attract talent.”

SOURCE: Schiavo, A. (9 December 2019) "6 steps to enhance your recruiting strategy" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from 6 steps to enhance your recruiting strategy


Why using a 401(k) to pay for emergencies is hurting employers and employees

More and more employees are withdrawing $1,000 or less from their 401(k) retirement accounts to help pay for emergency expenses according to HR leaders. This trend is causing corporate leaders to become concerned about the financial stress that their employees are living with. Read the following blog post to learn more.


More than ever, HR leaders at Fortune 500 companies are reporting that employees are withdrawing $1,000 or less from their hard-earned 401(k) retirement accounts to pay for emergency expenses. These employees — often living at the brink of being financially unstable — are using the funds for unexpected emergency expenses like car repairs, medical bills or even to purchase books for their college-age children.

Corporate leaders are now, more than ever, concerned that many of their employees live under a high degree of financial stress that can affect their productivity, creativity and even their health, resulting in absenteeism and drops in productivity that ultimately impact the bottom line. HR managers are especially feeling the pain as they are called upon to handle the excessive paperwork needed for the 401(k) plan withdrawals, causing extra work that could be spent more productively on other projects that benefit all employees.

The fact that more Americans than ever are dipping into their 401(k) accounts for emergency funds reveals that many are living above their means or working below their needs financially. While it’s important to have an emergency fund, for many people savings is a luxury they simply can’t afford. According to a Federal Reserve survey, nearly 40 percent of Americans said they don’t have enough cash on hand to cover an unexpected $400 expense. The quick fix for many is to use credit cards or ask family or friends for a loan when an emergency arises, but when those are not options, tapping into the 401(k) accounts is becoming increasingly common.

Some companies are partnering with payday loan companies so employees will refrain from tapping into their retirement funds. This is actually a worse idea because they’re setting their employees up to fail by enabling a vicious cycle of debt employees may never be free of.

Financial education could be the key to helping employees gain control of their financial lives. Companies that promote financial literacy courses and attendance at financial seminars or conferences offer the first step toward a better path for future financial stability. Offering or subsidizing the cost of continuing education courses help inspire employees to begin a lifelong journey of education for higher salaries and career advancement. Companies that promote education and career advancement attract, engage and retain employees longer than companies that don’t.

Flexible benefits can help

Companies can help their employees refrain from using their 401(k) retirement accounts as a bank if they offer flexible benefits. Employees get to choose how to use their earned benefits, like utilizing the monetary value of their unused paid time off (PTO) for other priorities such as paying for an emergency expense, paying down student loan debt or funding a vacation, among other things. Companies that offer flexible benefits are giving workers the ability to finally be in the driver’s seat of their careers and lives. When companies empower employees in this way, job satisfaction, productivity and creativity go way up.

Flexible benefits are a no brainer to organizations that want to attract, recruit, engage and retain top talent. Salary isn’t the only factor in determining a good career move, and companies that want to win the talent war will offer some type of flexible benefits. Every employee should have the ability to choose benefits based on their individual needs, avoiding the damaging financial practice of using 401(k) accounts for emergency expenses.

SOURCE: Whalen, R. (25 November 2019) "Why using a 401(k) to pay for emergencies is hurting employers and employees" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/employees-are-using-401k-funds-for-emergencies


Improving your employee experience during open enrollment

Is your company open enrollment hosted on an online platform? Employers often struggle with employee participation during the open enrollment season. Hosting enrollments online is one way to increase employee participation this year. Read on for more tips to help ease this open enrollment season.d


For HR professionals, open enrollment is one of the most stressful and demanding times of the year. Many employers struggle with employee participation and expensive, time-consuming roll-outs. They also have to provide resources to help employees make the right plan selections for themselves and their families. As we head into another open enrollment season, consider these tips to ease the process.

Switch your open enrollments to online platforms.

If you’re still relying on paper enrollment forms, you are likely spending more money and time than you need to in pursuit of your manual work process and its many inconsistencies. Online platforms provide optimum efficiency, accuracy and convenience for your workforce, offering employee self-service options that encourage employees to take initiative in selecting the best plan for their situation. Not only will members of your workforce benefit from the convenience of being able to explore their options on their own time, but you’ll be able to offer them multi-lingual enrollment materials and have more time to assist them than ever before.

Prioritize and diversify communication.

One of the top ways to ensure a smooth open enrollment period is to use multiple communication channels, including frequent reminders regarding open enrollment deadlines. Without consistent outreach on the part of your HR officers and general managers, you will likely find yourself hunting people down to meet your enrollment and extension deadlines. Using an online self-service portal as well as traditional in-person meetings allow you to remind your employees of critical dates and changes as enrollment closes in.

The robust benefits administration system you choose should offer enrollment tracking and reporting features so you can see at a glance who still needs to begin open enrollment, who has left enrollment documents incomplete, who has made changes to their benefits (such as adding a dependent) and more. You can arrange for the system to send automatic reminders to signal the employee that further actions are needed. Providing multiple reminders will improve participation and the completion of on-time enrollments.

Help employees choose the best health plan for their situation.

In order to have the most successful open enrollment period possible, educating your employees on the different plan options available will go a long towards ensuring employee satisfaction. Studies have shown that most employees don’t have the necessary understanding of terms like “deductible” and “coinsurance,” let alone the tools to know which plan is best for their individual needs. Incorporating at-a-glance comparison tools and charts into your online or print enrollment materials can help employees make the most informed decision possible. It can also be helpful to provide educational materials like videos and simplified plan charts or cost calculators.

Keep Up with Benefit Trends and Voluntary Offerings.

Given the current labor shortage and competitive talent market, you’ll want to make sure your company is up to speed on which new benefits your competitors are looking to add, as well as which ones are appealing to specific roles, locations or generations within potential candidates from your hiring pool.

Voluntary benefits, for example, are playing an increasingly important role in employee benefits portfolios and they don’t cost you anything. Some of the most popular voluntary benefits right now include identity theft protection, pet insurance, long term care insurance and critical illness protection. If you aren’t currently offering these types of additional benefits, they could be a cost-effective way to boost employee morale, increase participation in enrollment and attract more workers to your business.

SOURCE: Smith, M. (2 December 2019) "Improving your employee experience during open enrollment" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/improving-your-employee-experience-during-open-enrollment


Education benefits are a critical offering to retain top talent

The top reason why employees pursue higher education and training is to keep up with or get ahead of any changes in their specific position, according to a recent survey. Read the following blog post for more on why education benefits are critical when it pertains to retaining top talent.


The American workplace is changing rapidly and so are the expectations workers have of their employers. Under pressure to keep pace with technology’s transformation of the labor market, employers are racing to up- and re-skill their workforce. They know that frontline workers, whose tasks are often most susceptible to automation, need training to remain viable and competitive.

According to this year’s Bright Horizons Working Learning Index, which surveyed more than 30,000 working learners, employees are well aware that their workplace is changing. When asked to select their top three reasons for pursuing more education or training, the most prevalent answer was that they wanted to “keep pace with or get ahead of changes in my position.” This beat out all other reasons, including advancement, opportunities at another organization and even earning more money at work.

Generation Z workers now rank education over all other benefits in importance, excluding healthcare. But they tend to differentiate between education and training, ranking education benefits above training and development.

That’s with good reason: a college degree is still the great lever for economic mobility and career advancement among frontline workers, driving higher lifetime earnings that total more than $2 million, on average. But with college costs rising, Gen Z is looking to employers to fill the gap. About four in ten Gen Z employees believe their tuition reimbursement program is the single best benefit offered by their employer. Twice as many say it is among the top three voluntary benefits.

Among the surveyed workers, three-quarters (76%) say a tuition reimbursement program would make them more likely to remain at their organization, and eight in 10 (81%) say it would make them more likely to recommend working there to a friend. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say such benefits make them “happier at work.”

Indeed, employees of all generations rank education benefits far above those offered for wellness and even above highly coveted benefits like life or disability insurance and paid family leave. In this survey, only retirement savings programs and paid sick or vacation time ranked more highly.

Importantly, nearly half (49%) said they would not have pursued education if their employers did not offer tuition assistance. Slightly more (55%) say the time commitment required for a degree or certification under their employer’s tuition assistance program is the biggest challenge they faced — as a result, many see the value of competency-based and self-paced learning options, often delivered online.

Data like this may change the calculus for employers considering investments in not just upskilling but education. While it may seem counterintuitive, employers must offer their frontline workers broad learning opportunities and educational benefits that can help them move beyond their current positions and pursue the next steps of their careers. Companies must have the foresight to invest in their potential.

SOURCE: Donovan, P. (22 November 2019) "Education benefits are a critical offering to retain top talent" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/offering-education-benefits-retains-top-talent


Key factors in choosing your benefits during open enrollment

Employers are now realizing that in order to attract and retain talent, they have to provide the best benefits. But, how do employees select the right benefits out of all the available options? Read the following blog post from Employee Benefit News for a few key factors to consider when choosing your benefits during open enrollment.


Even if you are a veteran in choosing employer-sponsored benefits, the landscape is shifting. Over the past years, we’ve seen changes to mental health counseling stipends, extended maternity/paternity leave and family building. Companies across industries are realizing that in order to attract and retain talent, they need to provide best in class benefits that save employers unforeseen costs in the long run, and shows employees that their employers are invested in their wellbeing — in and out of the office.

With all these available options and only a short window to select what’s right for you, here’s what should you look out for during open enrollment.

Which benefits matter to me?

The beauty of a diverse workforce is that employees may represent various walks of life. However, this means that not all benefits make sense for every person. Perhaps your boss is prioritizing childcare for his toddler while your colleague is looking to refinance student loans. Whatever your life circumstance, ask yourself, “Which benefits are most pertinent to my life and life goals in the coming year?”

For instance, fertility benefits may not be immediately attractive at first glance, even if you’re actively thinking about starting a family. But 1 in 8 couples will be impacted by infertility and treatment without coverage can be wildly expensive. It’s important to make sure you’re thinking critically and getting all the necessary information when browsing for your benefits. Rule of thumb: if this could impact you in the coming year, even if you’re not 100% sure, opt-in for coverage.

What’s actually covered?

During open enrollment, be sure to ask your benefits team about how robust each offering is and what’s included. A particular benefit may look like it has a lot to offer, but after further investigation, you may uncover restrictions, unforeseen out of pocket costs and other obstacles that may make it harder for you to utilize the benefit.

With fertility benefits, many conventional carriers offer coverage with a dollar maximum, meaning you’d max out on coverage before completing a full IVF cycle. Plus, there are additional costs outside of the basic IVF procedure, like diagnostic testing, medications, and genetic testing which may come with a hefty price tag you’d have to pay for. Without adequate coverage, many people have to make cost-based decisions, forgoing the technology they need to reach a successful outcome.

As an alternative, Progyny’s coverage is bundled, meaning your entire treatment event is covered and you do not have to worry about what is or is not included, or fear running out of coverage mid-way through. Many vendors have similar disruptive solutions to ensure they’re not leaving their members high and dry during difficult times.

When sifting through options, be sure you’re asking what’s covered and not covered under your plan. A lot of benefits may seem expansive, but make sure you’re getting the most out of the coverage that’s available to you. Ask: Are the best clinics in your area included in your plan as “in-network”? Do you have to meet medical necessity requirements before being allowed to access your benefits?

Which benefits are supported?

Once you’ve opted in for benefits during open enrollment, how do you access your benefit? How do you move forward with treatment? Does your benefit provide access to the doctors in your area? Since many of these offerings are complex and without proper onboarding, how can you be expected to understand the next steps?

With the growing emphasis on mental health and concierge member experience, companies like Progyny try to eliminate some of the member’s burden and create an easy to use benefit model that provides member support. For example, our dedicated Patient Care Advocates — a concierge-style fertility coach — helps members navigate the clinical and emotional aspects of your fertility treatment, making a difficult process a bit easier.

Another important factor to consider when shopping for benefits is access to care where you live — are the doctors that your insurance covers close by and easy to get to? When choosing your benefits, look out for any information about access to support. The goal of a benefit is to make your life easier, not leave you feeling confused and stressed in times of need.

What do I do if I’m unhappy with the benefits offered during open enrollment?

Often times, employers are unaware of what an employee wants until it’s brought to their attention. If you are unhappy with the benefits offered, raise the issue with your HR team! You are your own best advocate and change begins with you.

Not sure where to start? If you are comfortable, speak with your colleagues. Seek out a company resource group to see if others have similar needs. This way you can help form a plan or a way to approach HR. Once you have an idea of what you need, talk to HR to explain why the proposed benefit would be pertinent to you and your colleagues. Employers understand that the key to keeping good talent is making sure they’re happy.

Open enrollment can be overwhelming but take advantage of the resources you have. Ask questions, do your research, and discuss the options with experts in your office. With an arsenal of helpful information at your disposal, open enrollment should be stress-free and get you excited for all of the incredible employer-sponsored benefits in your future.

SOURCE: Ajmani, K. (25 November 2019) "Key factors in choosing your benefits during open enrollment" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/how-to-choose-benefits-during-open-enrollment