Employee Communications When Emotions Run High: Five Steps to a Successful Message

Check out this great read from The Society of Human Resources (SHRM), by SHRM Staff

All across the country, companies are grappling with the decision of whether or not to send a company-wide communication about the election results. On Wednesday morning, organizations – especially with offices in major cities – were faced with an employee population experiencing a wide array of emotions. For some, these emotions may have even begun to affect productivity and overall office morale.
So, when an issue like politics – which can be divisive and cause heightened emotions – spills into the workplace, is there value in addressing the situation with employees?  The answer is an absolute yes.

Ultimately, leaders must understand their organization’s culture to determine the most appropriate employee message, or whether a message is necessary at all. In the case of the election results, however, we cannot deny that a change has occurred and for some employees that change was not what they were expecting.

As with any major change an organization and its people go through, it’s important for leadership to create an environment where open, transparent and constructive dialogue is encouraged within the workplace. Pretending like nothing has happened or that people aren’t feeling directly affected does a disservice to your people and ultimately your organization. Here are 5 ways to communicate with your employees when emotions run high.

1.      Reinforce your Company Values

When crafting a message to employees, you will find the most success if you use this as an opportunity to reinforce the values of your company. One of our values at SHRM is, “Our People Matter” and so, for us, it’s important that our employees feel supported and heard. Acknowledging their feelings will go a long way in establishing trust in the organization.

2.      Double Down on Benefits

Employers can also use this as an opportunity to highlight some of the company’s benefits offerings. Direct employees to their company Employee Assistance Program for resources that might be available to them. Many EAP programs offer stress management and personal wellness tools that employees can take advantage of during this time.

3.      Offer Support

There are a range of activities – some of which can be tied to a wellness campaign – that an organization can do to assist employees:

  • Bring in a massage therapist and offer de-stressing hand and foot massages to help employees unwind
  • Bring in a yoga instructor or offer meditation resources
  • Offer donuts or other snacks and create safe space zones around the workplace where employees can congregate and have discussions.

4.      Open Lines of Communication

If a company does send a message to employees, it is important to reinforce the importance of person-to-person communication. At a time when tensions are high, internal social media platforms may not be the best place for employee dialogue.

5.      Manage with Empathy

Most important, it is crucial that people managers recognize the signs of stress in their employees and approach them with compassion and empathy in the coming days and weeks. We do not always know what people are going through or dealing with outside of the office. Supervisors should work with their HR department to know what resources are available for employees, but they should also just be there as a supportive listener.

Finally, whether post-election communication comes from HR, executive leadership, a communications department – or if ultimately the decision is made not to send any message at all – this is a good time to take a closer look at your employee culture, reinforce your values, highlight your benefits and wellness offerings and show employees that they are supported, valued and heard. In the end, the most important lesson, and perhaps what your employees will value the most, is simply showing that you care.

See the original article Here.


SHRM Staff (2016 November 12). Employee communications when emotions run high: five steps to a successful message[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://blog.shrm.org/blog/employee-communications-when-emotions-run-high-five-steps-to-a-successful-m


Fewer employers are offering a company match to their retirement benefits, a new study by the Society for Human Resource Management finds. About two-thirds of companies currently match their employees' contributions today, compared with 75 percent in 2008.


Having trouble figuring the return on investment (ROI) from your wellness program? A report by HRmorning suggests examining these five factors:

  • Sick days
  • Stress
  • Presenteeism
  • Health care utilization
  • Employee satisfaction

A solid program will decrease the first four of the above items and bump up the last, the report noted. The report noted that a $3 to $4 return for every $1 spent on wellness is a common benchmark for wellness ROI.


A recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management found that 61 percent of companies are offering some sort of wellness initiative this year, up only slightly from 58 percent in 2008. Although wellness adoption by employers seems to have leveled off in the past few years, the elements of the programs have changed. For instance, 45 percent of polled employers said their program includes health and lifestyle coaching, compared with 33 percent in 2008.

Taking the Long View of New Hires

By Mark McGraw

May 22, 2012

Source: Human Resource Executive Online

Don't be too quick to measure the impact of new hires, experts say. Even though many companies are "concerned" about the way they appraise new professional and managerial-level hires, it's important to allow them to develop and grow before determining their worth to the organization. It's also important to establish meaningful metrics.

Professional football franchises are big businesses that depend on frequent injections of new talent to remain successful.

Look at the recent NFL draft, where each of the league's 32 clubs carefully selected a handful of college athletes they hope will lead their organizations to success for the next decade or so. These pro prospects are poked, prodded and closely scrutinized for months leading up to draft day, and teams have become increasingly thorough in testing the physical and mental capabilities of these young men before making sizable investments in them.

Still, predicting a just-drafted player's career trajectory is an inexact science. Highly touted players with big-name college pedigrees don't always pan out at the pro level, while unheralded, under-the-radar picks from smaller schools sometimes blossom into superstars.

And NFL teams and their highly paid talent evaluators are left to contemplate their methods for measuring the potential impact of these skilled, but unproven, new employees.

Sound familiar? There's an almost 50/50 chance it does, if findings from theFuturestep Global Talent Impact Study 2012 are any indication.

The survey of more than 1,500 HR professionals in five continents finds that 40 percent of respondents report they "are concerned" about the metrics and measurements they have in place to assess the impact of new professionals and managerial-level recruits on their organizations.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to measuring a new hire's potential impact, says Byrne Mulrooney, CEO of Futurestep, a global recruitment company with U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles.

More than half (52 percent) of survey respondents say they rely on two to five metrics to assess a new hire's potential value within the organization, he says.

Measurement tools will vary based on the industry and type of position, but there are broader measurements that an organization can use to assess the possible worth of a new hire, according to Dave Ulrich, professor of business at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a partner at the RBL Group, a Provo, Utah-based consulting firm.

For example, he says, "there are some generic metrics such as perceived performance (perceptions of those that work with the person), behavior (the extent to which the new hire's time is spent on the appropriate business issues) and 'time to productivity,' which is the time before the new manager or hire is fully productive in the new job."

Ideally, these essential processes should be in place before hiring a candidate for a managerial-level position, adds Ulrich, "then those expectations can be the standards to determine if someone is doing the right job."

A new hire's impact will evolve over time, and companies and their HR leaders should rely on a combination of metrics to assess value in the short-, medium- and long-term, says Mulrooney.

"There are three distinct dimensions to a new hire's impact," he says. "First is the immediate impact, when a candidate with the right skills arrives to get the job done. The consequential impact is when an individual's contributions transition from the actions within their own role to influencing others. The third dimension is when additional value is brought to the organization over time, and an employee shows potential to be promoted and grow within the company."

A key reason many companies wind up questioning their assessment tools is that they place too much weight on short-term results as a predictor of future, rather than more long-term success, says Mulrooney.

He notes that about two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents identify the immediate performance of a new professional and managerial-level employee as a critical indicator of a successful recruitment process.

"Our study unearthed an alarmingly short-term approach, with one-in-three respondents (35 percent) measuring impact within a new hire's first six months. Although it's encouraging that measurement is taking place, it's essential that a meaningful process is engaged to maximize impact in the long-term and retain staff," he says.

Indeed, HR leaders should take the long view when evaluating new managerial-level employees, says Keith Strodtman, research fellow of HR strategies at HfS Research, a research-analyst organization with U.S. headquarters in Boston.

"Most would acknowledge that it's more important to hire a quality employee than it is to hire a poor employee quickly," says Strodtman. "Yet, when it comes to hiring metrics, speed-of-hire or cost-of-hire are much more commonly measured than quality-of-hire. Speed and cost are important, but don't forget the big picture."

In the grander scheme, HR must be instrumental in defining the processes and measurements of the recruiting process that are meaningful to their organization and industry, and can often find reliable predictors of new hires' performance within their own organizations, says Strodtman.

"Profiling existing successful employees will provide the key indicators required to assess the potential value of a new hire," he says.

"HR leaders must also work with line-of-business hiring managers to define the metrics and processes that provide insight into the success of a new hire. The metric will vary depending on the goals of the business and the type of role being filled," he says.

"Companies may want to consider a global metric to measure overall quality-of-hires and specific metrics for key roles in the organization. A key is to focus on business outcomes and how successful employees deliver against the desired outcomes," he says.

Ultimately, HR professionals are "like architects who design the processes that capture the desired meaning within the company," says Ulrich. "And, like architects, HR professionals need to listen carefully to the desires of their clients -- in this case, line managers -- so that they can design the right systems."


Job Gains by Demographic

May 21, 2012

By Michael J. O'Brien 

Despite the weakening jobs data of late, signs of an economic recovery abound. But is the rising tide lifting all demographic boats equally? 

Economists continue to argue about the overall significance of jobs-report figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor, but debates notwithstanding, data from earlier this year shows that older workers -- those ages 55 and older -- may be making a better argument for their employment than their slightly younger competitors.

According the Labor Department's March 2012 figures, those older workers gained 2.8 million jobs since March 2010, compared to a net job loss of 258,000 for workers between the ages of 45 and 54 during that same time period.

Such figures should not come as a surprise, says John Challenger, CEO of Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"The 55-plus population is expanding rapidly and, whether by choice or by necessity, many of these older workers plan on working beyond the traditional retirement age of 65," he says.

Some of these older workers are continuing in the occupations and industries where they spent most of their careers, he says, but many others are starting entirely new career paths.

"Because they may be more willing to work fewer hours or accept lower pay in exchange for better health benefits," Challenger says, "employers are welcoming these older job seekers.

"The older worker's experience makes it more likely that he or she can hit the ground running with little or no training and, in many cases, can do the job of two younger workers, simply by knowing the 'tricks of the trade,' " he says.

But, despite the advantages that many older workers offer to employers, Challenger says, recent college graduates should be stepping into a labor market that is more positive than in the recent past.

"Each year, we continue to see improvement in the college-graduate job market," he says. "Last year was slightly better than 2010, and this year should be slightly better than 2011."

Challenger points to two surveys to support his theory: one from the National Association of Colleges and Employers that finds employers plan to increase hiring of spring graduates by 10 percent over last year; and a survey from Michigan State University's Collegiate Employment Research Institute, which finds that employers are planning to hire bachelor-level graduates at a 7-percent higher clip than last year.

Indeed, according to DOL data from March, workers ages 20 to 24 gained 939,000 jobs during that same March 2010 to March 2012 period -- second only to the 55-plus segment.

Challenger says that, while the slowly improving economy is creating more opportunities for all job seekers, many companies have started looking beyond recovery toward expansion, and those organizations have to make sure they have started to develop the talent they will need to fuel the next period of growth.

"That means beginning to build the entry-level ranks now," he says, "so that, over the next five or six years, it is possible to identify and cultivate the high potentials who will drive the company forward."

There is also new data confirming that the economic recovery is impacting passive candidates.

According to the Corporate Executive Board, for the first time in five years, the ranks of passive candidates -- or employees who aren't actively looking for a new job -- shrank in the first quarter of 2012.

While still below pre-recession levels, active job seekers now make up 27 percent of the employed workforce, which the Board calls "another sign that the job market is recalibrating."

"Overall, this is a positive trend," says Christopher Ellehuus, managing director of the Washington-based Corporate Executive Board. "It means candidates in the labor market are feeling more bullish about job opportunities in the labor market and are more willing to take risks and move to another job with better career opportunities or better pay."

Ellehuus says the Board's new data also finds that employees who left their old companies in the second half of 2011 received 10-percent higher pay with their new employer, up from 8.5 percent in the first half of the year.

"While the global downturn provided organizations with selective opportunities to 'trade up' on talent for bargain prices," he says, "that opportunity appears to be fading quickly as the market begins to re-equilibrate in favor of candidates."

But one demographic that is not enjoying any effects of a revived economy is disabled workers, according to a new study based on DOL data analyzed by Allsup, a Belleville, Ill.-based provider of Social Security disability representation.

The Allsup Disability Study: Income at Risk finds that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was nearly three-quarters (74 percent) higher than for non-disabled workers during the first quarter of 2012: 15 percent for disabled workers versus 8 percent for non-disabled workers.

And compared to the first quarter of 2011, the figures show no positive movement for either group: 13 percent for disabled workers versus 8 percent for non-disabled workers.

Allsup has been tracking such figures since the first quarter of 2009.

"People with disabilities often face a much greater challenge in securing employment," says Paul Gada, personal financial planning director for the Allsup Disability Life Planning Center. "Their health condition may make it difficult to continue to work for extended periods, or it worsens so they are forced out of the labor market entirely."

With all this data, it's no surprise many HR executives are unsure of their next step, says Challenger.

"This is complex time for HR executives," he says. "HR has to manage staffing demands for the next six months without losing sight of what will be needed over the next six years.

"Unfortunately," he says, "those expecting a rapid turnaround and sudden burst in hiring will be disappointed."


The Good News..and the Bad News

By Susan R. Meisinger

May 14, 2012

A combination of factors may lead to a resurgence of manufacturing in the United States. While that's certainly a positive development, the downside is that HR leaders will be challenged to find job candidates proficient in STEM skills.

Many years ago, my father vehemently opposed my decision to use my savings and buy a used 1970 Volkswagen Bug. It was my first car, and he argued I had no understanding of the true cost of owning a car -- the insurance, gas, maintenance, etc.

A few months later, OPEC imposed a fuel embargo on the United States in response to a U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military during the Yom Kippur War. Gas was rationed, and there were long lines at the pumps. I remember this particularly clearly, because that was when my father announced that "we" had made a smart decision to buy such a fuel-efficient car.

The embargo raised concerns -- and brought into sharp focus -- U.S. dependence on overseas oil for its energy needs; a concern that has continued for the past 40 years.

The good news is that some recent reports are suggesting that U.S. energy independence may finally be within reach. This security is because of a huge boom in oil and natural-gas production in the nation and an increased focus on fuel-efficient cars and renewable resources. Some believe this will lead to energy sufficiency for Americans within 20 years.

Why should U.S.-based HR executives care about energy sufficiency (beyond never having to worry about sitting in a gas line)? Because as the nation relies more on domestically produced natural gas, the economics of offshoring manufacturing changes.

The "perfect storm" of lower energy costs, greater employee productivity, rising wages in places such as China and India, and higher international shipping costs, may combine to make the nation much more attractive for manufacturing.

Research from the Boston Consulting Group and a poll from the Society for Human Resource Management suggest the tide is already beginning to change in this regard.

If energy independence and a rebounding manufacturing sector is good news, what's the bad news? After all, it means more job opportunities -- and that's the problem. They are jobs that require science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills.

This potential new demand will only exacerbate the existing challenge many HR executives in the manufacturing sector are already facing as they try to fill current positions.

And the statistics on the future availability of workers with, for example, math skills, are pretty grim. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United States places 18th among its member countries in overall mathematical skills.

There have been many initiatives launched to grapple with the STEM shortage. Educational reforms have attempted to focus greater attention on math skills. Government studies have suggested that communities take up action to meet the challenge. Websites such as Stemconnector.org have been created to try to expedite dissemination of information on strategies that might prove useful.

And summits have been held or planned for concerned parties to discuss how best to meet the challenge. On June 24, in fact, SHRM and the U.S. Department of Labor will hold a summit on the shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing.

So what can just one already overworked HR executive really do?

Begin by resisting the temptation to be overwhelmed. Become fully versed in the scope of what this means for your business -- wherever it's located -- and make sure other executives appreciate the challenge.

Accept that educational efforts and achievements aren't uniform at all state and local levels, and begin to tackle the problem at a local level. Investigate how well the localities are preparing students for a career in manufacturing. Take steps to help educators understand the current -- and future -- needs of your business.

Of course, to do that, you need to know your business well enough to be able to educate the educators, or, to use a hockey analogy, help them skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it is now.

In addition, learn about and take advantage of new technologies that are now available for workforce training. Training that may have seemed insurmountably expensive in the past becomes more affordable with technology -- especially as the need for skilled talent becomes more critical.

Finally, remember that the good news -- potential energy independence and the resulting rebound to manufacturing -- outweighs the bad news. After all, wouldn't you rather have the challenge of finding skilled workers instead of having to let them go?


More than 80% of employers look to adviser for PPACA education

Beginning in 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employers with more than 50 employees to offer minimal essential health coverage to employees or be subject to a penalty. More than three-fourths of employers plan to continue to offer coverage for employees once this new requirement takes effect. However, a majority of respondents are also concerned about their ability to offer affordable health coverage to full-time employees.

The 2012 Health Care Reform Survey was conducted from January 6 to February 24 by Milwaukee-based Zywave, a software provider for the insurance and financial service industries. More than 7,800 employers nationwide participated in the survey.

Respondents are from 14 business sectors, with heaviest representation from services (18%), manufacturing (15%), nonprofit (11%), health care (10%) and construction (9%). Respondents spanned organization size: 43% with less than 50 employees, 17% with 50–99 employees, 27% with 100–499 employees and 14% with more than 500 employees.

Among those surveyed, 51% will definitely continue to offer health benefit coverage, 29 % will likely continue coverage, 3% will likely discontinue coverage and 1% will definitely discontinue or have already discontinued coverage. Meanwhile 19% are unsure what they will do when the requirement goes into effect in 2014.

“These findings are consistent with other recent surveys on the topic,” says Zywave attorney Erica Storm. “Given the uncertainty surrounding health care reform, employers do not appear eager to make big changes to their benefit offerings. Plus, employers remain concerned about competing for talent and seem nervous that dropping coverage could affect recruiting and retention efforts, despite other health care options provided for in the law.”

Other survey results include:

• 57% of employers responding are concerned about their ability to offer affordable health coverage to full-time employees.

• More than three-quarters of respondents have already seen an increase in their organizations health benefit costs or expect to see an increase as a result of PPACA provisions. Sixty-three percent of employers plan to pass these increases on to employees.

• PPACA requires group health plans that provide dependent coverage of children to make that coverage available to children up to age 26. In response to this requirement, 10% of employers surveyed increased the employee share of premiums or benefit costs for all coverage, 9% increased the employee proportion of dependent coverage cost and 2% eliminated dependent coverage.

• PPACA provisions that employers are most concerned about implementing and administering include: new reporting, disclosure and notification requirements (57%), the requirement to automatically enroll new employees in a health plan (40%) and additional W-2 reporting requirements (49%).

By Marli D. Riggs