Team Building Secrets for an HR department

by CompareHRIS on January 19, 2015

Team buildingTeam building in an HR department or a small business does not come easily. The reason is that it takes planning, and because planning takes time, team building often goes down the drain. However, team building can and should be done – whether an HR department, a small business or any other department within a Fortune 500 business.

Try these small starts:

1. Tailgate Meetings
No company or HR department is too small to come together. Meet first thing every Monday for 15 minutes at the coffee machine or ‘water cooler’ to delegate priority tasks for the week and first thing every Friday to measure the outcomes of these priorities. The meetings must occur at set times, and there must be follow through and follow up. Notes are mandatory to confirm agreement on conversation.

2. Team Activities
Integrate team activities or competitions into regular staff meetings. There are thousands of short activities out there. You do not want anything that lasts more than 10 minutes or that will offend or tax members. Select a team building activity that furthers business goals, the activity should not become an end in itself. In other words, do not overdo it; keep activities to one or two scheduled meetings a month. If it is on the agenda, it must be played.

3. Workable Solutions
At the end of an activity, you need to draw a connection between the activity and its importance to the business. You must give the activity context, or it will seem a silly waste of time. They must see how the activity will help them get better at their jobs and how it will improve the business. This reinforces feelings of belonging and the connection with customer values.

4. Something Big
Depending on your business headcount, schedule a team-activity for some annual or semi-annual event. Ironically, athletic events tend to favor aggression and individual competitiveness. Look into something low impact like rope games or trivia contests. Everyone needs a role in something and because of that everyone wins. The emphasis is on the sharing and the collaboration, not the victory. OK, sometimes it is about the victory – but keep it calm.

Admittedly, it takes preparation. Even the tailgate meetings fall flat if there is not at least an unspoken agenda. Other activities may require some supplies or a time clock, or you may want to award silly gifts. But, the planning connects the activity to your business purpose. You also have to consider timing and the need to adhere to a calendar. These things do not happen without plan or purpose, and all this can be planned a year ahead of time. If you start this in HR, you can begin the process of ingraining it into your corporate culture and that is a company win!

 

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How to Find a Best Practices HR Tech Package

by CompareHRIS on January 12, 2015

HR TechnologyJust what are you looking for in a Human Resources technology package? Perhaps, it “exactly meets your needs, with a positive return on investment that fits your culture and improves your process, while being accepted by all concerned, offered by a stable publisher with flawless implementation, including customized training and ongoing support.” Is that too much to ask for?

Joe Rotella, SPHR does not think so. In a SHRM Conference presentation, Joe (CMO for Delphia Consulting) laid out a blueprint for selecting HR information technology that will “help free you from administrivia so you can focus on strategic goals.” It provides a simple framework for how to find a best practices HR tech package.

1.  Don’t run from problems: Word-of-mouth and peer influences press any attentive HR professional to find ways to escape the administrative burdens that dominate the job. You just don’t want to be the only kid on the block without the new tech toy.

However, shopping without strategic purpose escalates the possibility of an already sizable risk. You need to study deep and wide about functionality, document management, integration, implementation, and scalability. You want to know something about process automation and architecture. And, if any of this terminology is new to you, you need a consultant to direct your self-assessment and internal needs analysis. There is too much at stake to shop for solutions when you have not identified how to find a best practices HR tech package.

2.  Organizational goals rule: You must collaborate with all those functions that support business goals. Those goals will likely integrate increased income with decreased expenses, improved cash flow and customer satisfaction, and cultural and process improvements. Any return on investment lies in achieving these goals, not in simplifying your office.

The priorities presented by these goals then dictate the measures and reports needed from your HR technology. With those in hand, you have a basic engineering requirement worth discussing with an HR tech provider.

3.  Shop smart: You can prepare a checklist of needs with the help of HR decision-makers from the outside, peer managers inside, and end-users inside and outside the organization. This is not a browser search or online review; it takes thorough research into providers, experiences, and testimonials.

Selection is a long process in which you assess your needs independently, collaborate with management, and conduct early interviews with your short list of providers. Once you reduce the possible vendors to three, you must schedule demonstrations – for your office and, then, for all the stakeholders.

4.  Return to scratch: The demonstration results have to meet the needs you already prioritized. Your decision has to favor the vendors who make the best match. Their ability to map their skills to your needs makes the buy decision – not their feel-good presentation.

5.  Get it in writing: The written proposal will be the document discussed at the executive level. The proposal must comply with your requirements. It must identify and address the same concerns and priorities, solve the same problems, and demonstrate a cost-benefit analysis. When it defends the return on investment, it had better parallel the way your C-suite calculates ROI.

Long before you launch your search for solutions in HR technology, you need to get your head and hands around how to find a best practices HR tech package. That requires personal focus and executive commitment. You will need to anticipate risk, training, and change issues. The HRIS Selector Tool at compareHRIS.com is a best practice way to start that search.

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How to Win Friends and Influence Employees

by CompareHRIS on January 5, 2015

business ethicsWhile many managers would argue the point that over-friendliness with their subordinates can actually damage a business team’s effectiveness, I maintain that a certain level of civility and concern beyond mere formality is required. Here are a few ways that managers can win over their employees and thereby significantly increase their influence with them:

Bring Your Ethics to Work
Don’t kid yourself, no matter what they say, your subordinates watch everything you do and look for any signs of moral weakness. For this reason, nothing garners trust better than impeccable personal integrity. Any manager who has slipped in this department will surely be challenged by a subordinate during the counseling or termination process if the failing is any way similar to the employees own situation. In short, you must also live by the expectations that you set for the rest of the team. So, show up on time, avoid those long lunches and have your meeting materials ready and waiting.

Concentrate on Excellence
If you consider the people that you most admire, they are undoubtedly individuals with characteristics that separate them from their peers. Simply put, they are excellent not only as employees but also as people. As a manager, you must engender this attitude in yourself and amongst your subordinates. Settling for mediocre results is a sure-fire way to guarantee them in the future. Instead, a superior manager let’s his team know what is expected, when they fall short, and when to praise good results. In addition, this expectation cannot be arbitrarily applied. Allowing one employee to yield to mediocrity will eventually drag down the entire team.

Place the Shoe on the Other Foot
The longer you are a manager, the easier it gets to take your subordinates and their loyalty for granted. Loyalty does not ever come for free… it must be earned. For these reasons, it is extremely important to occasionally take the time to consider the employment situation from the perspective of your subordinates. Are you a manager who demands that all personal business be done after hours or, even worse, do you schedule meetings on weekends or holidays at the last minute? Subjugating the needs of your subordinates to those of the company are certainly necessary at times but doing it on a continual basis is simply abuse – and your employees know it.

Bring a Positive Attitude
What did the man say in that famous song? Let a smile be your umbrella! This is actually excellent advice for any manager. You set the tone for the office so positivity is key as your negative vibrations will only allow the rest of your team to vent theirs. In particular, small gestures like greeting everyone you pass in the morning starts the process rolling. It’s just hard to dislike someone who comes in smiling. This tactic also works well at meetings. Even at those necessary meetings where everyone would rather be somewhere else, it is important to keep an upbeat attitude. Bad news is best delivered with a stiff upper lip and small smile.

A Final Thought
Each of the aforementioned ideas is decidedly more mental than physical. Still, the body language of a manager and their choice of spoken words are also extremely influential. Before any meeting or one-on-one engagement, consider what you will say and how you will say it. Your choices can make a demonstrable difference on the outcome. In addition, it gives you a chance to formulate your arguments in a far more cogent and influential manner. There you have it, influencing your employees is as simple as treating them with the same dignity and respect that you expect. Just don’t forget this fact simply because you are the boss.

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8 Opportunities to Create your HR Future

by CompareHRIS on December 20, 2014

business opportunityThe Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) published an informative report on The Future of the HR Profession in 2002. It began a discussion that continues today, HR professionals remain obsessed with protecting their future.

Management philosopher Peter F. Drucker is famous for saying “The best way to predict the future is to create it,” a paraphrase of something Lincoln wrote. Drucker also wrote, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” And, that is the gist of the SHRM report. HR professionals remain unclear about their future. They forestall their future by spending too much time studying it instead of creating it.

8 Opportunities

SHRM reports the responses of eight major firms to the question: “What are the opportunities for forward-thinking professionals over the next few years?” Notice the quality of the question. It does not direct; rather, it poses opportunities that invite HR professionals to follow. The choice is yours to pursue or not.

1: HR professionals are invited to create a clearly articulated HR function and to realize the infrastructure necessary. You need to recruit, staff, and train to the anticipated operational needs. Executive management will not demand or design this opportunity on its own initiative.

2: Human Resources supplies labor and maintains compliance. It now has the chance to link human capital with corporate brand – making people the “critical differentiator” between competitors. When HR connects employee values with corporate values, employee satisfaction will drive customer satisfaction.

3: HR will outsource the administrative rungs executives would have climbed to the top. The challenge is to fill the time relieved with integrative thought and work. HR leadership will be recognized as inter-disciplinary, requiring advanced education and expertise in new areas, such as metrics, operations, and financial reporting. Studying and understanding people as talent assets and human capital will fund corporate strategy and success.

4: A best opportunity may reside in an outsourced environment. The fact that businesses will be outsourcing HR functions assumes the need for leadership within those organizations. Conversely, once functions have been outsourced, the originating business still needs leadership to integrate remaining needs and to design new applications.

5: Creating a future now requires you to develop or strengthen skill sets. You must automate administration, design metrics to align human capital with business needs, create a strategy for conflict resolution, and facilitate change. Success in meeting these challenges raises your profile and improves your broader business orientation.

6: Your Human Resources office must be in order. If it is not working well, you will not change anyone’s mind about your future. As long as human capital represents such a large slice of the corporation’s financial pie, HR must make its presence felt on compensation boards, management teams, and others who direct corporate revenue and expenditures. And, to do this, you need a deeper financial-decision making background.

7: The future needs new metrics. Executive management hungers for data that helps it strategize its “larger” issues. HR will explain why it is important to worry about why employees leave the business, what impact their engagement has on business success, and what employees value more than efficiency. HR professionals now need to get ahead of the curve by seeking the intelligence and tools to discover and present real content to executives.

8: The most succinct and summary suggestion is to become a business partner offering branded and strong advice like an assured outside consultant.

Twelve years after the SHRM report, Human Resources professionals defend their role and still fear for the future. In fact, numerous opportunities exist to create their own destiny, and – not incidentally – improve the future of the human interests they seek to advocate.

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Talent Management Requires a Talent Management System

by CompareHRIS on December 12, 2014

talent management systemThe flattening of structure is meant to increase responsiveness and decision making.  However, it can hurt those at the lowest level because they will no longer receive hands-on and frequent performance assessments, nor will they be getting strategic training and development. So, the very agility desired, speeds organizational behavior at the risk of thoughtful study and talent placement. Human Resources in this environment needs new responses to these new talent management needs – and one of those is a Talent Management System. The Talent Management System provides analysis and data capture tools for recruiting, performance, learning & development and compensation. It helps streamline the process and reduces the need for middle management (but does not eliminate it).

When an organization flattens its structure in an effort to increase its agility, one negative side effect is the reduction in the depth of the talent bench. This lack of depth tasks leadership and management because the skills at the next level are thin. This can hurt performance and the setting of strategic goals.

Globalization is a relative term. Talent Management is not.

Even the smallest businesses think big. In doing so, they extrapolate their goals and dreams to a new paradigm. As Human Resources has re-invented itself, it became a form beyond the ambition of the smallest businesses to be a true contributor and potential profit center to the business.  In a recent article on HR predictions, Josh Bersin wrote, “We predict a new model of HR will emerge, one which focuses on global delivery of core services, talent services, as well as what we call ‘strategic enablement’ services. And, technology will play a much larger role.” (yes, a Talent Management System)

Globalization requires talent mobility.

People must work smarter, and that creates need for on-demand blended learning well removed from the classroom chalk and talk models. It demands a new curriculum that exploits technology platforms, and incorporates gamification architecture. With employees reluctant to design their own studies and careers, HR must engage workers with creative and rewarding work to reduce turnover. Without a strategy for talent mobility, high-potential performers see no place to go.

Need drives demands for deep product functionality in the Talent Management System.

Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) are dated if they do not include talent mobility threads to manage performance, suggest succession, align learning, and assess compensation. Systems in place for five years or more may lack this important integration. Sometimes a specific targeted Talent Management System can be a better fit, as it provides the level of depth needed.  This product focus often is better than a surface level talent application built into an HRIS.

The good news is that innovation is showing up in new or modified products that pull together social media applicant sourcing, employee performance assessment, training, tracking and curriculum architecture, and more. Such software will integrate enough data to feed new predictive analytics, identify high-potential employees, and structure their role and succession.

Globalization is a function of employee engagement.

Talent grows a business. In the past, global goals were set, and the structure had to catch up with them. Today, for globalization to succeed, organizations must become employee-centric. Companies must present a talent management solution that encourages workers to engage with the company and guide their own career. To the extent they attract employee involvement with such new ideas as gamification, they also increase employee accountability for their own futures.

When business growth approaches the size where it makes sense to shop for human resources information systems, HR and IT should look for a system with the tools to secure, develop, and retain employees – not just track information.  They should look for the tools that will serve them now and into the future, not just in terms of body count but also in terms of talent recognition, assessment, development, and succession planning. Instead of multiplying software applications and vendors, they should consider the vendor who is best prepared to integrate their present and future needs. The Talent Management System should support that business growth in the need for ever increasing employee engagement – it’s just a matter of finding the right vendor fit for your business needs.

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payroll taxWhether or not you prepare your business’s payroll taxes, you’ll want to know what’s in store for next year. New changes affect payroll administration, employees, and employer. Here are at least six things you’ll need to know about 2015 payroll taxes.

1.  High Paid Employees

The maximum taxable amount of earnings subject to Social Security withholding will jump to $118,000. You should notify these employees of the change affecting their take-home pay well before the January 1 start.

2.  Withholding Rates Unchanged

Employer and employee will continue to pay 6.2 percent up to the new maximum towards the Social Security piece of FICA. That is a combined 12.4 percent on income up to the new maximum of $118,000. That is a maximum of  $7,347 on the part of each the employer and employee.

3.  Medicare contribution

Employer and employee will each continue to pay 1.45 percent for the Medicare portion of the FICA deductions, a combined 2.9 percent. All wages – salary and bonuses – are subject to Medicare withholding. There is no maximum limit.

4.  Additional Medicare Tax

The Affordable Care Act pinches the high earners for a larger Medicare deduction. Those employees will pay an additional 0.9 percent as an Additional Medicare Tax on earnings above the statutory threshold:

  • $125,000 for married employees who file separately
  • $200,000 for single taxpayers
  • $250,000 for married employees who file jointly

This Additional Medicare Tax applies to compensation paid that exceeds the threshold in a calendar year. But, these thresholds are not adjusted for inflation, so they will apply to more employees as the years go by.

While the Additional Medicare Tax will raise the contribution by well-paid employees, the employer’s portion will stay the same at 1.45 percent.

5.  Net Investment Income

The Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) is not strictly a payroll tax. Under the NIIT, earners reporting an adjusted gross income of $250,000 (Joint Filers) or $200,000 (Single Filers) will pay a 3.8 percent surcharge on Investment Income including Capital Gains.

The NIIT becomes a payroll issue when earners choose to adjust their income tax withholding to account for the increase to avoid tax underpayments and penalties.

6.  Retirement issues

The IRS has posted complex rules on deductions and thresholds regarding deductions for IRA, 401(k), and other deferred income accounts. These include an increase in contributions for qualified savings plans, defined benefits plans, and other moves to encourage accountability for retirement income. Most of these changes affect payroll administration depending on employer sponsorship and employee enrollments. So, even where there is not a direct cost to employer in terms of a mandated payment, there is a cost in the administration.

The changes and process adjustments in payroll for 2015 can be a costly headache. If you continue to run your own payroll, you must seek professional advice before the start of the year. If you run pay through a local payroll administrator, you need to confirm the administrator’s awareness and ability to handle the new orders. If you administer payroll through an HRIS provider, you should seek assurance that they will deliver the new necessities. And, if you work through a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), you should check on their readiness to approach 2015.

In addition to these six adjustments, the Affordable Care Act will require auditing that correlates income and medical benefit plans. However, these six modifications are probably enough to make you want to move your payroll accountability to a qualified and trusted payroll provider.

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Will all HR paths merge in the distance?

by CompareHRIS on November 19, 2014

HR pathsDid technology ever intend to take the human out of Human Resources? Not likely. Technology does not have motives or self-interest. However, the direction taken by Human Resources Information Systems challenges legacy HR every day. Where is HRIS taking HR? It may be a question of perspective. Will there come a day when HRIS and HR become one?

Five paths taken

1.  Monster boards began the evolution of e-recruiting. Employers and job candidates could meet in the virtual woods of the big boards to match interests, needs, and talents. As candidates learned to post video resumes, they made themselves more noticeable. And, as they made the connection through Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media, employers started to chase the talent in new ways. This paradigm shift put employer and candidate virtually face-to-face, but you should not mislabel the connection as “social.” Automated as it may be, the community is only virtual.

2.  The speed of distribution and delivery facilitates more training and development. An HRIS system will efficiently introduce and track new hire orientation on policies and procedures. It can put subsequent training into the hands of employees through mobile applications. And, it can provide just-in-time training as needed where needed. This requires a level of IT sophistication often in short supply among Human Resources leadership.

3.  HRIS originally served the market that wanted personnel database management to save time, assure accuracy, and relieve Human Resources leadership, enabling them to be more creative and innovative. And, it has since introduced descriptive reporting and predictive analytics. It has served this market well.

4.  That same database advantage can monitor employee performance. Its principle systems will apply metrics that are important across the organization. The analytics make the performance and outcomes transparent and useful for assessment and planning.

5.  Technology engages employees and management for their respective self-interests. Employees can access their records, payroll, assessment, benefits, and performance assessment. Management can secure analysis and trending information to adjust operations, workforce, and strategies.

It is a fact of the Human Resources profession that most practitioners lack the specific talents to blend these plans. It is rather natural that one professional may feel a stronger need for talent and/or direction than another. A strong foundation in information technology presents an engineering mindset without the soft edges manifest in most HR professionals. A solid strategic HR background is theory and outcome driven without the technologist’s tools.

So, you can picture a future forest in which the disparate paths of Human Resources merge through the device of Human Resources information technology. That means HR leadership must remove itself from some paths and trust the technology to do its thing. Trusting and developing relationships with strong, innovative, and responsive HRIS providers may be the precise place where the roads merge, and you can proceed without fear about the paths not taken.

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Friendly greetingWith all the technology that accompanies the HCM process these days, it’s easy to get lazy and let the computers do all the heavy lifting. A simple case in point is the inability of the many HR staff members to simply remember the names of the people that they help on a day-to-day basis.

What happened to the mindset in the human resources department that people are a company’s greatest asset?

With that thought in mind, I decided to revisit one of the most powerful tools for making friends that I could remember. I know that it might seem trite but these five steps are sure to give your HR team instant credibility with almost anyone you meet – by just remembering their names:

Repeat the Name
It doesn’t take much to become distracted when meeting a group of people. Your boss may stroll by, a drink or hors d’ouevres may be offered or an old acquaintance may intrude and introductions become muddied or hurried. No one will fault you, however, if you just take the time to simply say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” – and the person’s name, no matter what is going on. When exiting the conversation, try to use the name one more time in the goodbye.

Create an Immediate Association in your Mind
While this sounds all well and good, it is not as easy as it seems and takes a little practice to really work. The idea is to associate the name – and the face – with another aspect of their life. For example, if you just met “Ted from Toledo” or “Michael at Microsoft” and associate both the name and the secondary attribute, you will have a better chance of remembering both. In many cases, when you meet either Ted or Mike and don’t immediately remember their name, the secondary association may come to mind and jog your memory.

Make a Comment About the Name
While conversing with your new acquaintance, try to make a comment about the name to once again reinforce it onto your memory. For example, asking Thomas whether he prefers Tom or Tommy will again imprint the name into your conscious. Further, associating that person’s name with someone you already know with the name is another powerful mnemonic device.

Develop Your Own Mnemonic Devices
You may never meet or have to remember the names of the nine members of the Supreme Court, but if you did, a clever mnemonic device could help you do so. For an HR staff that routinely meets the same people over and over from the same department, a mnemonic device might be just the thing to help them remember names and make a lasting impression on their coworkers. For individuals, the mnemonic could be making an alliterative association with what their co-workers do for the company – Ann in accounting, for example – or a simple rhyme such as Gail in sales.

Put the Name To Use
The typical HR interaction between your staff and the company’s employees provide plenty of opportunities to use a person’s name. It may not be the same as actually learning the name of the person in front of you but, the employee will notice. It is a powerful tool that creates a bond between the staff member and the employee and removes one more adversarial barrier.

A Final Thought – Obviously, the size of your company may preclude the use of some of these techniques but there is no reason to not develop a system where the employee’s name is used on a consistent basis throughout any interaction. Customer management relationship systems (CRMs) have been around for years but have been primarily focused on customers outside of the company. Perhaps, it’s time for HCM to take advantage of tools like these and focus on their most important assets – their people.

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Building a Better HR Dashboard

by CompareHRIS on November 7, 2014

HR DashboardIt takes a certain selflessness to succeed as a Human Resources professional. That is not as noble as it may sound. Leaders are often prized for stepping back to let their results speak for them. They are tasked with identifying measures of Human Resources effectiveness, naming the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of those measures, and communicating them effectively. In an informative and practical presentation at SHRM’s 2014 Conference, Conrad A. Samuels, SPHR (Manager, Talent Acquisition at Pepco Holdings, Inc.) addressed the art of Developing and Effectively Using an HR Dashboard. Structuring your work to speak for you means building a better HR dashboard.

What’s a dashboard?
In the tech world, a dashboard displays the information needed to report and motivate progress towards performance goals. A dashboard captures and consolidates everything happening in the moment on a single screen.

The single screen presents the KPIs in a single user-friendly event. If the dashboard requires scrolling, it is not doing its job. The best dashboards engage human curiosity. They appeal to all observers yet satisfy individual curiosities. So, creating effective dashboards is as much an art as a skill.

Caretaker to partner

Speaker Samuels sees the HR dashboard as a natural outcome of the evolution of Human Resources from the days when it was a caretaker to its role as strategic partner, from a focus on employee records to accountability for cost-effectiveness and employee development.

That evolution also appears in the development of HR metrics. Data-driven management is evidence-based management, so HR finds itself responsible for workforce analytics reported through Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS).

Why bother?

Well, for starters, it’s your job. Stakeholders expect Human Resources to draw a picture of the links between HR initiatives and business objectives. When leadership has the information it needs, its behavior and decisions should improve. That alone should quantify HR’s impact on the bottom line.

This strategic support shifts the focus on “What we have in Common, not what we have in Conflict.” As dashboards inform the organization, they “drive accountability into the conversations.” As shared news becomes common news, it becomes the organization’s common language.

What’s the score?

HR wants to measure and report the things that employer and employee want to know: How are we doing? The dashboard is not a current snapshot because a snapshot is too static. The right sort of dashboard is designed to be vivid and dynamic. It lets users drill down into the display to review the current human-capital metrics.

Measuring human performance is not the same as following piecework or production lines. On the other hand, business organizational goals can lead you to aligned KPIs. For example, the corporation values costs, quality, customer satisfaction, productivity, time, and performance management. Anything worth measuring measures one of these factors.

When, where, and how?

Your next challenge is to figure out who you are informing, when you want to do it, and how you want to reach them. The who, when, and how may be decisions you want to share with executive leadership, especially where a given audience may be overwhelmed by too much information posted too frequently. However, executive offices may want the data immediately and ongoing.

An Excel spreadsheet may be the easiest way to go. On the other hand, it appears static and so ordinary that it might be dismissed as just another busy report. Like a leaderboard, it is a flat and predictable roll out. Something more visually involving, varying in color, and utilizing useful charts will engage more observers productively. You can customize a quality HRIS system to generate everything you need.

What’s in it for HR?

Human Resource and executive leadership benefit from detailed reports. The deep data identifies benchmarks and brings them forward as visual patterns and charted correlations. Demonstrated trends become predictive when corroborated by KPIs. And, when linked with costs up or down, they become meaningful. As Samuels remarked, “Measuring is a journey, not a destination.”

Quality conceived HR dashboards raise the HR profile. For one thing, there is a psychological reward in having one’s curiosity satisfied. When employees see the current performance, it satisfies their want to know where and with whom they stand. When the organization’s leadership examines the pictured information, it strengthens their respect for, dependence on, and appreciation of the Human Resources initiative involved in a better HR dashboard.

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The 7 Secrets to Employee Retention

by CompareHRIS on October 31, 2014

Employee MotivationRegardless of the business climate, retaining motivated employees that are a part of your ‘A’ or ‘B’ team is essential in every business. It can be challenging and you may feel overwhelmed by this responsibility, but being passive and not aggressive about your employees will hurt you in turnover that you don’t want. It is the responsibility of management to keep the business growing and moving forward by ensuring you keep your primary team focused and motivated. Of course, we are speaking about the team members you want to keep around – while ‘C’ team members are necessary, the amount of effort keeping them motivated must be compared to the time you need to keep your key team in place. Losing one ‘A’ team member is worse than losing multiple individuals in the lower tiers. Here are a seven strategies for accomplishing this goal of retaining key team members:

1.  Create a Motivated Culture

The first step toward motivated employees is to create an encouraging environment for the behaviors you are trying to foster and recognizing them when they happen. By relishing in success and taking blame for failure, you can show your team that you care about them and will fight for them. By embracing the motivated environment within your corporate culture, not only will you have great front-line employees but you will create a whole new generation of future company leaders. This leads you one step toward creating a company that can last a very long time.

2.  Be Transparent

It sure seems obvious but many managers don’t realize that any decent employee wants to feel like a member of the team. It is essential that management communicate the overall goals of a project or the requirements of a job so that everybody is on the same page when it comes to results. Accomplishing this relatively simple task makes it possible for team members to make good decisions when confronted with a choice and also allows them to measure themselves against a less than subjective yardstick.

Accomplishing this goal requires time, energy and patience. Employees must be informed of decisions arrived at management meetings, updated about new policies and, most importantly, apprised of any new company developments that will change how the employees are evaluated and compensated. In this vein, particularly, it is necessary for managers to meet face-to face with any affected employees to explain what the changes mean.

3.  Bring In the Boss

As they say, “nothing succeeds like success.” An appearance by the “Big Boss” can mean the difference between a lukewarm response to a new initiative and a fully engaged team. It is a highly motivating factor if your team sees that the highest levels of the organization are firmly invested in the success of a new initiative. Seriously, the mere fact that the CEO or even the regional manager is taking a personal, hands-on interest in a project will reap many benefits.

It is important, however, that this interest is not merely a memo or a pre-recorded “Message from the President.” An engaged – and knowledgeable presence is necessary to have the most effect on project and team success.

4.  Provide Opportunity

Opportunity in an organization cannot be only limited to management. Instead, front-line workers and lower management must also see their engagement in and support for these projects. Management can reward them with bonuses, recognition and career advancement. It is the last factor that can be most important as the most capable employees will look here for their motivation. In fact, this latest generation of workers almost expects to move up quickly!

Some ways to facilitate this is to include lower level employees in senior level meetings, as members of cross-functional committees and as true arbiters of the success of a project. These functions may manifest themselves as a member of a committee but they are still powerful motivators for keeping the best people involved. From these roles, they can ‘see’ a path to more responsibility and more opportunity.

5.  Address Employee Concerns

One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch especially if that ‘bad apple’ has a legitimate grievance. It never makes sense for a manager to dismiss an issue that appears inconsequential to himself, he should look into all issues and include HR when possible. Ignoring facts on the ground and dismissing concerns outright could result in dire consequences for all within the company. In fact, managers are in their positions to handle just such eventualities – be prepared and do not ignore issues for so long that they become ‘big issues’.

One way to understand what is happening in a company is the simple “suggestion box” which can provide a way for employees to file a grievance without being identified. While this is one way, the much better way is regular meetings where team members are encouraged to participate. In addition, these meetings cannot just pay lip service to the complaints but must actively seek to redress the concerns.

6.  Reward Success

This factor is where “the rubber meets the road.” I understand that there are all sorts of studies that purport to show how various types of employees respond to various types of rewards. This fact is all well and good when the employee is highly compensated and really doesn’t need any more money but it is of dubious merit when the employee is working for minimum wage and would rather have a better salary than a trophy. Bottom line, reward success in the most appropriate manner possible.

With that said, it is not enough to merely acknowledge accomplishment. A company must come across with a real honest way of showing appreciation. Whether it is a raise, a bonus and even just acknowledgement, it is imperative to “feed the need” of the employee.

7.  Always Listen

In many ways, this is the most important aspect of employee motivation as it is the only way that you, as the manager, will know if you are messing up – and, don’t kid yourself, this is the essence of motivating employees. They must know that you give a damn. Think about it. For your company to be successful, YOU don’t really need to be happy, your employees DO.

In closing, individuals have their needs, companies have their needs, and managers have their needs, but the best way to make sure companies and managers have their needs met is for the individuals on your team to feel they are accomplishing something more than their daily tasks. They want to be part of something bigger. Recently, I read a story about 2 brick layers working outside – when asked what they were doing they each responded much differently. The first brick layer simply stated – I am laying out bricks and ensuring they are level so I can make this wall. However, the second brick layer, knowing the reason behind his work said, ‘I am building a cathedral’. Make sure all your employees feel like that second worker.

For more information on employee motivation you might be interested in, Employee Motivation: The Key to a Successful Workplace

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