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Management Development Programs Today Need to Add This Topic

17 hours 16 min ago

Forgive me for the cryptic title on today’s post. I won’t keep you in suspense. The answer is, management development should include “virtual” management of remote workers.

My guess is that managers are being asked to supervise an increasing number of remote or virtual employees. Even if they only do it on a part-time or sporadic basis. A great case in point – – the news headlines last winter that said, “75 percent of the population will suffer below-freezing temps this week”. My first thought is, if you didn’t have to go into a physical office…why would you?!

Regardless of the reason, when you’re working from home, the company probably definitely expects employees to still get the work done.

That means managers still need to manage. The challenge is that organizations haven’t really spent a lot of time teaching managers how to build relationships with employees, monitor their performance, and coach them when their employees aren’t sitting right in front of them. That’s not the manager’s fault.

Let me repeat that – – – it’s not the manager’s fault!

I found an article on the Association for Talent Development (ATD) website about the concept of “virtual proximity”. The idea being that good managers shouldn’t let four walls or distance interfere with their ability to manage. I could see virtual management being a necessary component in today’s management development programs. For starters, organizations should address these four areas:

  1. Relationship Building. In a physical office environment, managers can walk by an employee’s desk and immediately engage in conversation. In a virtual environment, it’s different. Managers might want to schedule a quick one-on-one with employees for the sole purpose of building relationships.
  2. Recognition. Like relationship building, managers can easily walk up to an employee and recognize them for a job well done. I’m not saying that’s always the right way to give recognition, but let’s face it…managers often do it. Virtual employees need recognition too and managers need to find a way to convey those messages in ways that benefit the employees and the operation.
  3. Collaboration. When it comes to projects, virtual employees need to get the same opportunities to brainstorm and weigh-in on ideas as the team working in the office. Collaboration technology solutions can help with this, so no one feels they are being left out of the loop.
  4. Technology. Speaking of technology, it’s important for managers to learn about today’s technology tools. Just because we’re talking about managers building relationships with employees and effectively managing their teams, doesn’t mean they can use the help of technology.

It’s time for organizations to realize that managing remote employees isn’t the same as managing the workforce you see every day IRL. Managers should go through management development on the differences and they should be given the tools to effectively supervise both in-office and remote workers.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Oklahoma City, OK

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Categories: Blogs

Bookmark This! Workplace Burnout and Stress Edition

Fri, 10/18/2019 - 02:57

According to a survey from Korn Ferry, nearly two-thirds of professionals say their stress levels at work are higher than they were five years ago. The reasons cited include increased workloads, changing technologies, and interpersonal conflicts. Organizations cannot afford to ignore workplace burnout and stress. It has an impact on employee engagement and retention. And stressed out managers are eventually going to stress out their teams.

This edition of Bookmark This! is focused on offering some insights and information to help organizations and individuals manage stress in the workplace. I can’t guarantee that it will completely eliminate anxiety because there will always be an aggressive deadline looming. But, hopefully, this list of resources will help manage those moments a bit better.

Worrying is a Symptom of Employee Stress – Worrying has been identified as a symptom of employee stress. Supportive management and comprehensive benefits programs provide a safe place.

Being a Nice Person Could be the Source of Your Stress – Is generosity burnout a thing? Most of us want to be thought of as a nice person by our coworkers. But can that be a source of our stress?

The New Cause of Employee Burnout: Always Being “On” – Burnout in the workplace can have many sources. Long working hours and too much work are great examples. A new cause may be constant connection to technology.

The Next Employee Challenge: Loneliness in the Workplace – Loneliness is the new employee challenge. Dan Schawbel’s “Back to Human” shows managers must work to develop a connected and engaged culture.

You Can’t Tell Your Employees to Unplug If You Don’t Do It Yourself – Unplug from technology is the recommendation from managers to stressed employees. Here are three things to consider if you want to unplug.

How to Reduce Individual Stress Levels at Work – During the BetterWorks Goal Summit, speaker Srikumar Rao outlined three activities to help reduce personal and professional stress.

Employee Burnout: 5 Organizational Programs that Can Reduce It – Employee burnout is a key concern. Turnover can hurt business success. Learn five proven programs to help reduce employee burnout.

Employee Burnout: 4 Ways Technology Can Help – The time to think about employee burnout is before it becomes an issue. Our friends at Kronos shows us how we can use technology to help minimize employee burnout.

We know job stress is expensive. The American Institute of Stress estimates that job-related stress costs organizations over $300 billion annually as a result of accidents, absenteeism, turnover, productivity losses, workers’ compensation claims, and lawsuits.

Today’s recruiting market is challenging. The answer to our hiring difficulties cannot be to simply pile more work on current employees. Organizations run the risk of increasing employee stress and burnout, which will only perpetuate those things we’re trying to avoid.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby in downtown Las Vegas, NV before speaking at the HR Technology Conference and Expo.

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Categories: Blogs

New FLSA Changes 2019 – – What You Need to Know

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 02:57

Back in March 2019, we shared with you that some proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) were on their way. Well, it’s official . . . they’ve arrived and it’s time for us to digest the changes and get an implementation plan in place.

To help us understand what’s going on with the FLSA, I reached out to our friends at Foley & Lardner, LLP. They’ve helped us answer questions before, including this one about eliminating employee benefits. I’m delighted that Alexander R. P. Dunn is an associate and litigation lawyer in Foley’s Milwaukee office has offered to assist. Alex is a member of the firm’s labor and employment practice.

Please remember that Alex has a regular full-time job as a lawyer and he’s doing this to give back to the profession. His comments should not be construed as legal advice or as pertaining to any specific factual situations. If you have detailed questions, you should address them directly with your friendly neighborhood labor and employment attorney.

Alex, before we get to the FLSA announcement itself, let’s talk about what this new rule is focused on. (i.e. What’s the salary threshold)?

[Dunn] The salary threshold is a bit like a minimum wage for salaried employees. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees are essentially classified into two groups and there are different legal requirements for each type of employee:

  1. Employees who earn hourly wages have to be paid a minimum hourly wage, and they are entitled to overtime pay for each additional hour worked over 40 hours per week.
  2. Professional, executive, and administrative employees who earn a salary and also satisfy a ‘duties test’ are known as ‘exempt’ employees because the overtime provisions of the FLSA do not apply to them.

For exempt employees, each employee must receive a certain minimum guaranteed salary every week. This minimum salary threshold is the subject of the new U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) rule, which increases the threshold from its current level at $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $684 per week ($35,568 annually) beginning on January 1, 2020.

Back in 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor was planning to make some BIG changes to the FLSA, including increasing the salary threshold applicable for exemptions. Did that law ever go into effect?

[Dunn] No, that rule did not go into effect.

In 2015, the Obama-era DOL proposed a rule to increase the minimum salary threshold. After proceeding through the standard notice-and-comment rulemaking process, the DOL’s final rule, at the time scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016, would have more than doubled the minimum salary threshold to $913 per week ($47,476 annually).

In November 2016, after twenty-one states and dozens of business organizations challenged the rule in court, a federal judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction that prevented the rule from going into effect. A DOL appeal of that ruling was held in abeyance (put on hold, essentially) while the new Trump-era DOL weighed its options. Ultimately, the DOL decided to propose a new rule earlier this year that rescinds the Obama-era rule and implements a more modest increase in the salary threshold. That rule is now the final rule.

Okay, NOW tell us the new proposed FLSA rule and when it goes into effect.

[Dunn] For most people, the most immediate and most significant change is the increase to the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees.

  • The CURRENT minimum salary threshold is $455 per week ($23,660 annually).
  • The DOL’s NEW rule raises the minimum salary threshold to $684 per week ($35,568 annually). Any exempt employee who currently earns a weekly salary that is less than $684 per week will be impacted by this new rule.

However, the rule makes a number of other important changes. In addition to raising the minimum salary threshold, the new rule allows employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and/or incentive payments to make up part of an employee’s salary—up to 10%. In practice, this means that an employer who pays a 5% bonus every year to an employee can count that 5% toward the minimum salary threshold. But, if the employee does not earn the bonus, the employer will have to either make up the difference between the minimum required amount or be forced to pay overtime. In other words, what an employer can do is hold back up to 10% of the employee’s weekly pay and pay it as a bonus at the end of the year but cannot impose requirements that might jeopardize the bonus if the employer is using it to ensure the salaried threshold is met.

The new rule will also increase various other salary thresholds. The threshold for so-called ‘highly compensated employees’ will increase to $107,432 annually, while the special salary threshold in U.S. territories will increase to $455 per week (except American Samoa, where the special salary will remain at $380 per week).

These changes all take effect on January 1, 2020.

Speaking of the 2020 effective date, what should organizations do to get prepared?

[Dunn] The first step for any organization is to look at whether any of their employees are paid below the new salary thresholds but are classified as exempt. If all of your employees paid below the new salary thresholds are paid hourly, then this new rule isn’t likely to affect you.

If all of your employees are paid a salary and that salary is greater than $684 per week ($35,568 annually), you also probably won’t be affected by this rule. However, organizations with employees who receive a salary in excess of the current minimum, but less than the minimum come January 2020, will need to take additional steps.

Once an organization determines that it will need to make compensation changes to comply with the new rule, organizations will have to consider how to make those changes.

  • Option 1: Increase employee salaries across the board to comply with the new minimum.
  • Option 2: Keep employee pay below the salary minimum and switch to compensating employees hourly.
  • Option 3: Do a little of both: increase some employee salaries to comply with the minimum and keep some employee compensation level while switching them to hourly.

Aside from just the dollars and cents of compensation decisions like this, organizations should be thoughtful about how these decisions will impact morale and organizational culture. Not having to track hours worked can be a status symbol and a point of pride, so losing that status may have negative consequences for the worker and the organization. Likewise, seeing that certain employees are having their salaries increased while others are not, and instead are switching to hourly wages, may send a message about organizational culture and priorities. Remember, too, that this transition will likely occur during or shortly after the holiday season.

Employers must also be cautioned: simply paying an employee the minimum weekly salary does not make them exempt. Employees must perform certain duties to be properly classified as exempt.

I’m sure some readers are thinking it, so I’m going to ask. Is there any chance that the current administration might change their mind and not go through with this FLSA change? And if so, what can organizations do to avoid wasting resources preparing (and then finding out it was all for nothing)?

[Dunn] The last time that the DOL increased the minimum salary threshold was in 2004 and this rule change has been a priority for the DOL for years now. In fact, the DOL’s final rule notes in several places that it is the Department’s intent to update the minimum salary threshold more often in the future to avoid another long period of inactivity. Some groups have already stated that they may file a legal challenge to this new rule, so employers should continue to pay attention over the coming months. Nevertheless, the law is set to change on January 1, 2020, and employers need to be prepared.

However, for the professional cynics, preparation for this change in the law can still be a positive. If the DOL’s stated intent to update the salary threshold more often in the future proves true, we may see increases to the minimum salary threshold more frequently going forward. Organizations that use this increase as an opportunity to streamline their review process and establish best practices will be ahead of the curve when it comes time to adapt to a new minimum salary threshold three, four, or five years from now.

Aside from building capacity to respond to future threshold increases, it is just good organizational hygiene to review employee designations from time to time to make sure that your designations are appropriate under the law and consistent with your organizational goals and culture. This is a great opportunity for organizations to take a step back and consider whether there are different choices they want to make in this space.

Last question and this kinda plays of the previous one. As a human resources professional, how do I convince the naysayers on my senior management team who are going to say, “We’re tired of the FLSA flip flops. We’ll deal with the law when we know it’s gonna happen … in January 2020 … after it really happens.”

[Dunn] ‘We didn’t think it was actually going to happen.’ isn’t a legal defense. At the risk of stating the obvious, the whole reason the DOL set up this rule to go into effect on January 1, 2020, is so that organizations have time to understand the rule, understand how it applies to them, and take steps to comply with the rule.

Waiting until the rule actually goes into effect not only puts your organization at risk of a lawsuit, it also squanders a perfectly good opportunity to determine the best method of compliance with the rule at a pace that suits your organization (as long as your pace is before January 1) and put the appropriate communication into place.

Put simply, there is no grace period to come into compliance after the rule goes into effect. The grace period is now.

My thanks to Alex and the Foley team for helping us understand what’s happening and offering some food for thought when it comes to implementing these changes within the organization. If you’re looking to stay on top of labor and employment law issues (and I know you are), be sure to follow Foley’s Labor & Employment Law Perspectives blog – it’s on my must-read list.

I understand that HR compliance might not always be the sexiest part of our jobs. But it’s necessary. Very necessary. Organizations have lots of compliance related matters in every aspect of the business – accounting, environmental, safety, and HR. We’re simply doing our part by keeping the organization in HR compliance.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the 34th Street Graffiti Wall in Gainesville, FL

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Categories: Blogs

Employee Retention: The Key to Meaningful Work is Psychological Safety and Civility

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at WorkHuman (formerly known as Globoforce). They help organizations energize their cultures and unlock employees’ passion and potential with the fastest-growing social recognition and continuous performance management platform. Enjoy the article!)

Employee retention continues to be a major concern for organizations. With unemployment at historic lows, organizations want to know that, when they hire someone, they’re going to stay. It makes total sense. And I’d like to think by now we know the way to get better retention is by giving employees the ability to do meaningful work in a workplace where they feel respected by their manager and peers.

The good news is, if you’re organization is doing just that – treating employees with respect and providing them with the ability to contribute in a way that’s meaningful – then you’re on the right track. According to WorkHuman’s latest survey “The Future of Work is Human”, the most important factor to employees is meaningful work. The second most important factor is compensation, including benefits, and supportive management. The third factor is company culture and a fun team.  

I hope you’ll take a moment to download the full report for two reasons. The first one I just mentioned. Companies focused on providing respectful workplaces and meaningful work are going to see positive results. The second reason to download the report is when employees don’t feel that they’re getting the things it takes to create meaningful work (i.e. good compensation and benefits, supportive management, fun team, etc.) they have other options. And they’re not hesitant to start looking. The WorkHuman survey stated that 21% of respondents are currently looking for a new job.

Meaningful Work Isn’t a Millennial Thing

Before someone starts thinking, “Oh, it’s just those Millennials.”, let me say that I believe what we’re seeing in today’s market can’t be explained as a “Millennial thing”. I spoke to Jesse Harriott, executive director of WorkHuman’s Analytics and Research Institute, about the study and how age factors (or doesn’t factor) into the results. “We didn’t go into the research with any pre-conceived notions about age differences – although it’s well established that workplace attitudes can differ as workers age or between generations. However, we do see a consistent thread across age groups that ‘meaningful work’ is rated as most important to an employee’s career.”

The reason that creating a respectful workplace where people can do meaningful work isn’t a Millennial thing is because the barrier isn’t a Millennial thing. In the report, the reason that employees feel they can’t do their best work is because they don’t feel safe. That’s the barrier. Employees won’t feel like they have supportive management if they don’t feel safe. Employees won’t feel like they’re working with a fun team if they don’t feel safe. And organizations might offer a great compensation and benefits package, but if employees don’t feel safe, is it really enough?

Right around the time WorkHuman shared their report with me, I ran across an article from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) that reported inequality ranks low on global HR’s concerns. This made me realize the trend workplaces are facing. How can employees feel safe if they don’t feel that they’re equal? I felt like this article from SHRM aligned with a few of the findings in the WorkHuman report:

  • 26% of employees have felt discriminated against during the course of their career
  • 50% of women reported that a manager has taken credit for their work
  • 50% of women in technology said hiring and promotion decisions are based on gender and/or race
  • 100% of women in the hospitality industry said hiring and promotion decisions are based on gender and/or race
  • When asked why they felt discriminated against, the top responses included age, gender, race, political views, and sexual orientation.

But what might have been even more interesting than these statistics about discrimination in the workplace is that this isn’t the top reason that employees said they don’t feel safe at work. So as bad as these numbers are…it’s not the number one reason. The number one reason that employees don’t feel safe at work is a toxic work culture. I asked Harriott if they expected to see culture as the number one reason employees don’t feel safe. “It’s not surprising that employees report that toxic culture is the #1 reason they don’t feel safe. Psychological safety is critical for employees to be productive, strive for excellence, innovate and generally bring their best selves to the workplace. Toxic work cultures are a breeding ground for things that undermine psychological safety:

  • Lack of recognition for good work,
  • Fear of failure,
  • Poor leadership,
  • Lack of trust, etc.”
Civility Training Can Improve Psychological Safety

This is the hard part. Some of you are reading this and saying, “Of course, toxic work cultures are the problem. Tell me the answer.” And some of you might want to know exactly what defines a toxic work culture. Let’s start with the definition of a toxic work culture. In addition to Harriott’s comments above, think of a toxic work culture as one where people don’t practice kindness and respect. Where employees aren’t civil to one another.

Which is where civility training could be viewed as a possible solution. Christine Porath is a tenured professor at Georgetown University and the author of “Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace”. She also has a TED talk on “Why being respectful to your coworkers is good for business”.

Porath shared with me some statistics on how incivility has a direct impact on the bottom-line. Some of them would be no surprise to you like 12% of employees said they left a job because of uncivil treatment. But there were a couple that surprised me. Like 25% admitting to taking out their frustrations on a customer and 63% lost work time simply avoiding the toxic person. It’s estimated that organizations lose about $6 billion a year because of workplace incivility.

When it comes to training, Porath emphasizes the need for organizations to start by defining civility. “When establishing specific principles that you want employees to follow in how they treat others, I’ve found that it’s beneficial to engage them in an ongoing conversation about what civility means. These discussions garner more support and empower employees to hold one another accountable for civil behavior. Organizations can ask employees “Who do you want to be?” And then ask what norms are right for their organization. The result is a ‘civility code’, a set of rules for which they are willing to agree upon and hold one another accountable.” This sets the stage for civility training because it raises awareness and provides skills.

Retain Employees by Focusing on Human Interactions

The key to employee retention is having a culture where employees can do meaningful work. Discrimination, toxic work cultures, and incivility are barriers to achieving that goal. Again, I would recommend downloading WorkHuman’s “The Future of Work is Human” and checking out Christine Porath’s work on civility. It can help your organization ensure that the workplace you’re creating is one where employees can thrive.

P.S. And don’t forget to mark your calendars for WorkHuman Live in San Antonio, Texas on May 11-14, 2020. Best-selling author Dan Pink has been announced as a speaker. You can get a $100 discount on registration by using the code WHL2020HRB100. The discount code expires October 31, 2019 so book now. Look forward to seeing you there!

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Categories: Blogs

There Is More To a Job Than the Work

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 02:57

I recently ran across an article titled, “The CareerBliss 2019 Happiest and Unhappiest Cities to Work”. I know, I know, it’s a total clickbait title. But I must admit there can be some value even in clickbait titles, so I checked it out. While the actual list didn’t surprise me, my takeaway from the article was worth consideration.

I learned a long time ago that where I live is just as important as the work I’m doing. When we first moved to Fort Lauderdale, I had never been there. All I knew was what I had seen on the TV show “Cops”. I hate to say it, but that’s not a ringing endorsement to move there. But I took the job anyway and I really enjoyed living in South Florida.

But sometimes we don’t put enough emphasis on the connection between where we work and where we live. You can have a fabulous job but if you live in a crappy city, how fabulous is your life really? That being said, a couple of things to keep in mind here.

  • You have to define what makes a city wonderful or terrible. Everyone has different criteria for what makes a city special to them. You guys know that Mr. Bartender and I recently moved to North Florida. Neither one of us had ever lived there, so we came up with a list of what was important to us and used that as part of our research. The point being, when you’re not working, you have to spend time in the city where you live. Are you happy with it? And I don’t know that the only answer can be “Yes, because I have a job there.” Which leads us to the second consideration.
  • You also must decide what makes your job wonderful or not-so wonderful. Just like where we live, each of us has criteria for our jobs – the things we respect in an employer, the salary and benefits we would like to receive, the people that we want to be our co-workers, the manager we’d like to have, etc. None of us have the same criteria, which is why employers struggle at times putting together an employee value proposition (EVP). Because each individual’s needs and wants are different. AND take into account where the business is located.

My point is this – lists like the one I mentioned in the opening paragraph – are reminders that jobs involve more than just the tasks employees are responsible for. Organizations need to think about the work environment, which includes where the job is located. And if the employee has family, what the employee’s family thinks about where they live is equally important. When we relocated to Cincinnati, my boss made sure that Mr. B was happy with the decision as well. She didn’t have to do that. But she understood the importance of it.

In addition, the work / life connection could spark discussions about whether the job can be successful as remote work, which can open up the candidate pool. Or giving current employees the ability to live someplace that is wonderful (to them) while also doing a job they enjoy. I understand that not every job is eligible for remote work, and that might need to be addressed in a different way. Especially if an organization is having challenges hiring and retaining talent.

Bottom-line: Organizations must remember there’s a connection between work and life. And if possible, start thinking about how to showcase the city where the employee will live in addition to the company culture.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Gainesville, FL looking for tea, not coffee.

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Categories: Blogs

Use the Right Technology Tool For the Job

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 02:57

The word “hack” is often used instead of tips. For example, here’s a blog post on “100 Incredible Life Hacks that Make Life So Much Easier”. The first one is “Tie a small piece of fabric to your luggage. Saves a lot of time to check if it’s your bag or not.” I like to think of hacks as discovering new ways to use common items. For example, when I travel, I always have a small binder clip with me in case since the curtains won’t close right. Binder clips are multi-taskers as Alton Brown would say.

But this Time Well Spent from our friends at Kronos reminds us that not everything can be or should be hacked. There are times when there’s one tool for the job and we need to use it. Or that there are several tools for the job, but some definitely aren’t it (like a stethoscope).

When purchasing and using technology, understand how to leverage its data. Whenever Mr. Bartender and I purchase technology, we ask questions about how to get the most out of it. We compare our needs as users to what the technology can provide. It’s really important for organizations not to overspend nor underbuy when it comes to their technology needs.

It’s okay to experiment but have a baseline. I find that once I learn a new piece of technology, I’m always asking myself, “I wonder if it will do this? Or maybe that?” It’s perfectly fine to be curious and give these ideas a try. Think of it in terms of the scientific method or an HR Laboratory. But in order to determine if the experiment worked, it’s helpful to have a baseline of data. Preferably, the baseline would be from the recommended way of doing things.

Look for technology “extras” like strategic partnerships and accessories that can create new opportunities. The good news is if you’re looking for ways to hack your technology, chances are that others are too. I believe this can spark innovation. And technology companies might introduce a new product, service, or create a strategic partnership with another company to deliver that “hack” you’re looking for.

Hacks – or tips – can be very helpful and make our lives a little easier. They can save us from buying something we don’t need. Or allow us to do something that we’ve wanted to do. We have to be careful though that the hack provides the proper experience or gives us the correct result. We can ensure that our hacks are good ones by asking the right questions and experimenting before making the leap to a new way of doing things.

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Categories: Blogs

7 Career Lessons Learned from Attending a NASA Social

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 02:57

Over the summer, Mr. Bartender and I attended NASA’s Ascent Abort flight test. The Ascent Abort flight test was a simulation designed to ensure that NASA can maintain astronaut safety in case of an emergency. The test flight was done as part of the preparations for next year’s Artemis launch.

We’ve lived in Florida a long time and believe it or not…we’ve never been to a launch! This one was special because we applied for (and received) special passes as part of NASA’s social media squad. So, we spent the day touring NASA facilities and learning more about the organization. While the day was focused on science, it occurred to me that during this day of fun and education that there were some career lessons to be learned.

  1. Set goals and be patient. It took us a long time to get accepted into the NASA social media squad. We’re talking years to find an event where we both were approved and we both had the time available. If you want something, then you have to be willing to stay focused and be persistent. If you’re not willing to do that, then is it time to ask yourself if this is the right goal?
  2. Do work that you enjoy. We had the chance to hear from a couple of NASA engineers working on the project and they talked about how they got their jobs. One explained that he entered a robotics competition being hosted by NASA. His entry got him an internship, which ultimately got him the job. It goes to show you that you can play games, have fun, and still make a living. Some great career lessons!
  3. There are many career paths. When we think about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), keep in mind that there are lots of different kinds of science. The engineers we spoke with (see #2) talked about the value of other sciences like biology, chemistry, physics, geology, etc. The point being that organizations like NASA look for candidates in all of these areas.
  4. Diversity matters. Adding to point #3 above about different sciences, NASA shared on several occasions how diversity and inclusion have helped them reach their goals. While the movie “Hidden Figures” doesn’t always paint NASA in that light, maybe they’ve had their own career lessons from the past and embraced how different people from different backgrounds can unite for the love of space.
  5. Be curious. Speaking of rallying behind the love of space, that was certainly the case with our social media squad. We were quite a diverse group from different parts of the country, different occupations, different ages/races/genders/etc. What made us a group was our mutual curiosity about space. I equate this to all of the innovation we see today in technology. We might not have all the answers, but we’re curious.  
  6. Learn how to problem-solve. There’s a famous scene in the movie Apollo 13 where the engineers at NASA are challenged to put a square peg in a round hole to save the astronauts in space. I love the way that the lead engineer sets up the scene in terms of the goal and what the crew has available to them to fix the problem. We all face challenges and have limited resources. The question becomes how do we still get things done?
  7. Always practice safety and security. Finally, I saved this one for last on purpose. Always, always, always be safe. NASA did a great job of practicing safety and security – from our pre-arrival background checks (yes, we had to do them) to on-site badges, etc. It might be tempting to cut corners at times, but we need to make sure that we’re not putting ourselves or others in jeopardy.

We had a wonderful time at NASA headquarters in Central Florida. It was educational and exciting. But it also made me realize the importance of setting goals, working with people who were different from me, and staying curious. Because those are the things that will allow us to go to the next galaxy with our career.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at Kennedy Space Center and yes, that is a real sign.

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Categories: Blogs

Labor Law Postings: 3 Employee Groups with Unique Posting Requirements #MindTheGap

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Poster Guard® Compliance Protection, a division of HRdirect and the leading labor law poster service that gets your business up to date with all required federal, state and local labor law postings, and then keeps it that way — for an entire year. Enjoy the article!)

A little history about today’s image. “Mind the Gap” is a warning phrase used to advise passengers to take caution when crossing the spatial gap between a train door and station platform. It was first introduced in the 1960’s on the London Underground. So, my take is the phrase is designed to remind us to maintain safety in an area where we probably already feel very comfortable.

Today’s topic is exactly why I wanted to share a little bit of history about “Mind the Gap”. It’s very easy to dismiss warnings about labor law posters with “Oh, we have all the right ones.” or “There will be headlines everywhere when our posters need to be updated.” Not true. While I’m not saying that government agencies are out to catch businesses that aren’t in compliance, it’s important to realize that in today’s “signal and noise” world, there’s no guarantee that labor law poster updates are going to automatically move into the trending topics section of your favorite social media platform.

So, in the first article of a three-part series, I want to talk about how labor law posters have some unique requirements for certain employee groups.

Group #1: Postings for Job Applicants

Gap #1: Don’t Assume Labor Law Postings are Only for Employees

We have a tendency to think of labor law postings as being just for our employees. Truth is, four of the six mandatory federal postings apply to applicants as well.  There are also state and local requirements.  Physical postings must be displayed for applicants that come into your office for pre-employment interviews, testing or any part of the application process. By law, applicants must be able to view these federal postings in your business:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)
  • USERRA – Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (also known as USERRA and recommended as a best practice because the law applies to applicants)

And if your organization accepts online applications, there needs to be a way for applicants to view them there too. In an article on the ApplicantStack blog, 98% of Fortune 500 Companies are using applicant tracking systems (ATS), 66% of large companies use ATS, and 35% of small companies. As more organizations look to technology to help them automate their processes, they need to think about compliance.

Group #2: Spanish Language Postings

Gap #2: Don’t Assume Spanish Language Postings Only Apply When You Have Spanish Speaking Employees

As of July 1, 2017, the U.S. Census reports that the Hispanic population of the United States was 58.9 million, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority. There are ten states with a population of more than one million Hispanic residents: AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, NJ, NM, NY, and TX.

Twenty-one (21) states and territories are required by law to have certain labor law postings in English and Spanish, regardless of the composition of the workforce. Additional laws apply if you have locations with a significant number of Spanish-speaking employees who are not proficient in English. Those locations must post certain federal labor law postings in both English and Spanish. Though not mandatory, it is in your best interest to display all of the state posters in English and Spanish in those locations as well.

Organizations cannot make the assumption that, if they do not have Spanish-speaking workers, they don’t need Spanish language posters. They also cannot assume if they have bilingual employees that they don’t need Spanish language labor law postings just because those employees also speak English.  

Group #3: Postings for Remote Workers

Gap #3: Don’t Assume that Labor Law Postings are Only for Office Environments

According to the small business funding site Fundera, over 3.7 million employees work from home at least half of their time. That’s roughly 3% of the entire U.S. workforce. If you’re thinking that doesn’t seem like a lot, keep in mind this represents a 115% increase in telecommuting since 2005.

Working from home is popular for several reasons. It reduces the costs for commercial office space, decreases our carbon footprint, and makes employees more productive. In an article from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), telecommuting employees are more productive and save companies billions.

Organizations with a remote workforce need to audit their processes to ensure everyone has access to labor law postings. Some recent U.S. Department of Labor opinion letters and court cases have determined that electronic notices are a reasonable alternative for remote works.

Close the Compliance Gap with Your Labor Law Postings

I’d like to think that most employers know they need to have labor law postings. But I can also see organizations forgetting to “mind the gap” where postings are concerned and forgetting to take the extra caution that needs to take place with applicants, Spanish language postings, and remote workers.

But the good news is that organizations don’t have to spend hours researching this information. Our friends at Poster Guard have a Labor Law Poster Service that will do it for you. Yep, that’s right. Poster Guard monitors labor law requirements (at the federal, state, and local level) and lets you know when things change. They also provide you with replacement posters every time there’s a change FREE of charge!

Frankly, this is a no brainer for me. As a human resources professional, I have so many other things I need to spend my time on than researching labor law posters. Personally, I would much rather have a professional service do what they do best, which frees up my time to recruit, engage, and retain the best employees.

P.S. Stay tuned for part two in this series when we talk about how different industries require different labor law postings. In the meantime, you can test your labor law poster knowledge with Poster Guard’s Mind the Gap quiz.

The post Labor Law Postings: 3 Employee Groups with Unique Posting Requirements #MindTheGap appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

The 9 Faces of HR – Which One Are You

Sun, 10/06/2019 - 02:57

I want to be a bit nostalgic today. The very first article I ever published on HR Bartender was based on something written by Kris Dunn, chief human resources author at Kinetix and founder of the wildly popular blogs The HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent

The reason I’m bringing this up is because that very first article talked about our actions speaking louder than words. And all these years later, that old cliché still rings true. As HR professionals, we need to figure out what we want to be known for and demonstrate it with our actions. The good news is we don’t have to figure it out all on our own.

Kris Dunn has written a new book titled “The 9 Faces of HR: A Disruptor’s Guide to Mastering Innovation and Driving Real Change”. The book does a deep dive into career development for human resources professionals. This is something I don’t believe that we spend a lot of time doing because we’re so busy taking care of everyone else in the company. So, I asked Kris if he would share with us his insights and thankfully, he said yes.

Kris, congratulations on the success of your book, “The 9 Faces of HR”. For those people who haven’t picked up a copy yet, tell us why you wrote this book?

[Dunn] Thanks for your interest in ‘The 9 Faces of HR’! I wrote the book because I felt like the world of HR needed a career guidebook. If there’s one thing that’s constant in our current world of work, it’s change. In our desire to help others through environments with massive change, we’ve forgotten to take care of ourselves in HR.

The world’s moving pretty fast these days. I have a lot of examples in my own network of HR pros at all levels being impacted by change. I believe 100% they could have avoided layoffs, built better relationships across their organization and more – if only they were aware of the signals they were sending about change and innovation. 

My second goal was to write a book that’s more entertaining than the average HR book. The 9 Faces was a blast to write and hopefully, readers will find it educational and enjoyable. 

The “9 Faces” as it’s explained in the book is similar to the traditional 9-box grid, which many HR professionals will be familiar with. But I’m dying to know, how did you come up with the names for the 9 Faces?

[Dunn] Ha – you know how I came up with the names – I just looked around and decided what to call people with very specific worldviews. Most people who read the book automatically recognize the faces, because they’ve seen them all before in the world of HR. Everyone knows the ‘Cop’, the ‘Judge’ and the ‘Assassin’. I might have had to brainstorm a bit more on the others, but I think I found names that automatically give the reader a sense of the person/persona they’re looking at.

You could have done the naming idependent of me and there’s a good chance 3 or 4 of the 9 names are the same. We know these characters well in the world of HR!

I’m always drawn to books like yours because I want to find out “What Face am I?” How would you suggest someone go through that self-discovery process?

[Dunn] There are good instructions in the book for this and it’s pretty easy. 

  • Simply find a behavioral assessment you have access to (preferably with a cognitive component) and go through that assessment. 
  • Once you’ve completed that, locate your scores for cognitive, assertiveness, rules orientation, and detail orientation and browse the chapters that detail each of the 9 Faces. 
  • Find a profile that matches you and cross reference to make sure you’re at the right career level and presto – you’ve got a hot take regarding which of the 9 Faces you are.

I’m also available to put anyone who buys the book through our house assessment platform and will share the results and give a reading on which face that person is. Just ping me!

The book doesn’t just talk about the “9 Faces”. It provides a playbook for taking ownership for your career development. Once I understand what Face I am, how should I use this book to develop my career goals?

[Dunn] The key is to use your knowledge/self-awareness of your persona to understand your natural state and the signals you put off. Once you understand that and read the book, you’ll understand that in organizations with change (and who doesn’t have change?), every day is a test. People are constantly evaluating you to understand if you’re fast enough, innovative enough, etc. Related – find a way to say ‘yes’ more, even when you want to say ‘no’.

Last question. I know a lot of people will read this book and want to have their teams do the same. But I don’t know that senior leaders always do a good job of socializing books, articles, etc. around the office. What tips would you give to someone who wants to push this message out into their organization?

[Dunn] I’ve had a lot of HR leaders already buy the book for their teams, with the majority of those really running their own book club – whether they know they’re doing it or not. So, buy the book and have your team read 3-4 chapters at a time and then open it up for conversation:

  • What did they like? 
  • What do they call BS on? 

Early reports suggest this type of open-ended session is pretty dynamic and also meaningful to get HR team members to consider how they are viewed by client groups.

Of course, the book title and the cover draw HR pros in – as you stated earlier. Everyone wants to know which face they are – as well as which faces the people they love (and hate) in the world of HR are as well.

A HUGE thanks to Kris to sharing his knowledge and experience with us. I know you’re going to want to pick up a copy of his book “The 9 Faces of HR” after reading this interview. You can find it on Amazon.

My big takeaway from “The 9 Faces of HR” book is that, as HR pros, we need to remember that our professional development is important. If we want our organizations to succeed, we need to hire, engage, and retain the best employees. That means having a strong HR function. 

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Categories: Blogs

5 Key Components Of a Non-Disclosure Agreement

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 02:57

I’ve always worked in highly competitive industries and I’ve seen two schools of thought when it comes to talent.

In the first camp are the companies that say, “Our industry is so competitive that requiring employees to sign a non-disclosure document is an exercise is futility. We will spend all of our time and money with lawyers and in court.” No offense to my attorney friends, but that wasn’t how the company wanted to spend their resources. They focused their energy on being the best and felt that their actions – with employees and customers – would prevail.

The other side was also focused on being the best. But they had a different philosophy. Those companies said, “Our products and services are unique. We’ve worked hard to get to this place in our business. No one should take that away from us.” And they spent the resources to protect their business secrets by asking employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement (aka NDAs). 

I ran across this infographic about non-disclosure agreements from Legal Templates and thought it was an easy to read overview of what NDAs are and the key components to look for in an NDA.

The reason I told my tale of two companies at the beginning of this article is because, if you’re an organization using non-disclosure agreements (or considering doing so), it’s important to understand why you’re doing them. And to have a conversation with your legal counsel about how you’re going to enforce them.

And today’s article isn’t just for organizations. If you’re an employee or a job seeker, you need to understand non-disclosure agreements as well. Because when you’re presented with one, 1) you need to read it and 2) you need to decide if you’re going to sign it. 

Non-disclosure agreements are serious business. Both parties need to understand the terms of the agreement. The best time to be educated about whether or not you want to engage with one, is before you need to sign one. 

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Categories: Blogs

Celebrate Your Successes Through Micro Victories

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 02:57

I ran across an old Harvard Business Review article about “The Power of Small Wins” and it really stuck with me. How many times do we hear that we’re supposed to focus on BIG – big thinking, big ideas, big wins, etc.? You get the point. I don’t believe we can forget the importance of the small things too.

Small activities can lead to big change. I’d like to think we know that.

But what we might forget to do is congratulate ourselves for accomplishing those small steps. I know that I’m guilty of this. I take on a big project and break it down into small steps to make it much more manageable. Or a set a big goal for myself and establish milestones for accomplishing the goal. Then I don’t celebrate my success until the big thing is done. Why not give ourselves a little pat on the back or some form of reward as we’re accomplishing those smaller milestones?

I recently heard this term called “micro-victories” also called “micro-wins”. It sounds exactly like what I’m describing – a way to celebrate a small victory or success. The reason I’m bringing this up is to encourage us to celebrate our micro-wins at every level.

On a personal level: When we set goals for ourselves, we need to think about celebrating our success. Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves are private and we don’t really make a public statement about them until they’ve been accomplished. Getting a professional certification is an example. I know many people who keep their studying on the down-low because they don’t want the added pressure of having to tell people the outcome of the exam. So, they wait until they pass and say, “I did it! Yea me!” Which is fine but be sure to celebrate some successes along the way, like passing a sample quiz or completing a certification prep course.

On a team level: Many times, when we work on a team or a project, we have smaller milestones that must be accomplished along the way. For example, during a software implementation, there are many steps that must happen before the project is considered completed. The team should celebrate achieving those milestones. The project lead or department manager should encourage employees to celebrate those moments. Not only does it provide a level of recognition for the team’s hard work to date, but it encourages the team to stay focused and motivated on the big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG).

On an organizational level: Speaking of BHAGs, companies create big goals for themselves all the time. Those big goals are made up of several small ones. Organizations should provide regular status reports to employees where goals are concerned and use those updates as a way to celebrate what’s been accomplished so far. Especially when the big goal is something that might take years. Equally important is the need to celebrate successes when there could be a small shift or adjustment in the big plan. The last thing companies want is employees to perceive that shift as a sign of failure (when it’s not) and potentially demotivate the team.

Micro-victories or micro-celebrations are a great way for individuals, teams, and organizations to recognize their successes, stay focused on the big picture, and keep motivation at a high level. Because all of those little steps will be what creates the “next BIG thing” in the organization.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the 34th Street Graffiti Wall in Gainesville, FL

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Categories: Blogs

Strategic HR Management: 4 Activities That Help Reduce Turnover

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by Victoria University Business School, located in Australia. Victoria University’s online master’s in business administration program (MBA) was awarded a tier-one rating in CEO Magazine’s 2019 Global Rankings. Congrats to them! Enjoy the article!)

Today I want to talk about a subject near and dear to me. I want to talk about us. Meaning I want to talk about human resources. HR managers are incredibly important to a business’ success. They help recruit, engage, upskill, and retain employees. They are an integral component to the growth of a business in a constantly evolving digital landscape.

As such, human resources professionals need to be lifelong learners. The strategic HR management principles and practices we learned years ago, might be less than strategic today. And without a modern strategic HR management team that is focused on adaptive and flexible employee development, businesses are at risk of losing employees. According to an article from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), those annual turnover costs could increase to $680 billion by 2020.

4 Strategic HR Management Activities That Need Our Focus

So, what strategic HR practices can we focus on to help the organization achieve its goals? Here are four areas where keeping our knowledge and skills current will not only help to retain employees but assist in building a strong company culture to drive success on a local and global scale.

1. RECRUITING: HR facilitates the process of hiring the right people.

One clear area where HR managers have a significant impact on a business’ global success is through the hiring process. Investing time into developing a recruiting strategy and not rushing through the process helps the organization make better hiring decisions.

We can practice strategic HR management by clearly outlining the company’s expectations, both in a general business as well as a role-specific sense. Clear and consistent recruitment marketing messages will yield the most suitably qualified candidates. During the interview, this helps the hiring manager focus on the job requirements and whether the candidate has the right practical skills that can help their business succeed on a global scale.

Not only do technical capabilities play a part in selecting the right hire, but soft skills do as well. In fact, studies from Robert Half showed 87% of business leaders found that their most successful hires had values, beliefs, and a general business outlook that aligned with the business.  

2. DEVELOPMENT: HR creates formal and informal learning opportunities.

Learning and professional development opportunities are a key way that HR managers play a role in business performance. Training and development activities also help the business ensure that they have the relevant skills to compete in today’s global economy (see number one).

Technology and other innovations have redefined work. As such, we can practice strategic HR management by ensuring that continual soft skills and technical skills training and development are available for all employees. By developing evolving knowledge and skills, HR can help provide employees with continued growth and a career path from their current position. This has a direct impact on both employee engagement and turnover. According to a report from Mercer, 78% of employees said they would remain longer with their employer if a long career path was visible in their current workplace.

3. COMPLIANCE: HR ensures that the company maintains compliance with employment laws.

Regardless of where your organization is located, we’re truly a global economy. Especially with the latest advances in technology. We have the ability to interact with people and businesses all over the world.

While labor laws differ vastly from country to country, most countries have strict laws in the area of employment (specifically in terms of recruitment, immigration, discrimination, terminations, employment contracts, etc.) We can practice strategic HR management by ensuring compliance in this area. In addition, HR needs to know when to seek outside counsel, possibly in the case of the organization merging or acquiring a new entity. Or hiring employees in another country.

Non-compliance of employment law can have a severe impact, not just in terms of financial penalties, but also brand and reputational damage. HR should make compliance a priority to avoid any potential legal issues, minimize organizational exposure, and any liability that can come from allegations of employee mistreatment.

4. QUALITY: HR is responsible for effectively and efficiently managing their role.

I’m not sure we talk about this aspect of strategic HR management nearly enough. As human resources professionals, we have a department and function to run and we’re expected to run it well. This means managing costs and quality control.

We can practice strategic HR management by balancing short-term business needs with long-term value. It could involve evaluating employee compensation packages and relevant benefits, along with any programs that may help with recruitment and retention. On the cost-control side, HR could partner with operational managers to develop cross-functional teams that would maximize employee performance while minimizing the cost of bringing in new staff (see number two).

Quality control also is a big component of our role. We must lead the way with functional management skills that ensure the successful delivery of business objectives. HR is responsible for implementing systems that will work for the betterment of the organization.

Strategic HR Management Doesn’t Happen Overnight

The business world is constantly changing, and we need to be able to change along with it. Because talent is a business differentiator, strategic HR management is just one of the functional, analytical, and financial skills demanded of today’s business leaders.

Whether you’re a business leader or human resources professional, it’s important to grow these skills. One way you can do that is by studying for an MBA. It would allow you to grow your skills and provide you with the foundation to stay current in today’s evolving work landscape.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Orlando, FL

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Categories: Blogs

Why Is Inequality Low On the HR List of Priorities

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 02:57

I understand that surveys and polls aren’t always indicative of everyone. But surveys and polls do provide some frame of reference. So, I don’t know that they should be ignored. Which is why I wanted to share this one from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Globalization Partners.

The survey reported that the greatest challenges for global teams included collaborating and scheduling work across different time zones (49%). But rated last was unfairness or inequality among global teams (7%). I’d like to think that you’re saying the same thing I am, “Why is inequality so low on HR’s list of priorities?” Seriously, why? We know that creating diverse and inclusionary workforces benefit employees and the business.

Organizations that are trying to create award-winning cultures so they can attract and retain the best talent need to have diverse and inclusionary workplaces. I wrote a series a couple of years ago about building inclusionary cultures.

Defining Diversity and Inclusion in Today’s Business Climate

Diversity and inclusion are an important part of employee engagement. Company culture centers on a diverse workforce. And that drives strong engagement.

Using Trust and Emotional Intelligence to Establish Your Cultural Identity

Successful recruiting and retention relies on a company’s cultural identity. It’s a key part of the employment brand. And it’s built on respect and trust.

Using Leadership to Establish Cultural Identity

The speed of change has companies scrambling to keep up. Leadership is key. It helps drive cultural identity through diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Implementing an Inclusive Culture

An inclusive culture can offer a competitive advantage. Diversity training programs are a great start. But leadership needs to be the champion of diversity.

I’d like to believe that if human resources – along with the rest of the organization – makes equality and fairness a priority, then challenges such as collaborating and scheduling across time zones get easier. I also realize that, in practice, this is much easier said than done. I’m not implying that we can simply snap our fingers and create fairness and equality. It takes time. It takes trust. Most of all, it takes making it a priority.

I certainly don’t have all the answers about inequality here. But this survey does make me wonder if we’re focused on symptoms.

Ever since I read about this survey, it’s made me think about organizational priorities. Are companies truly focused on creating diverse and inclusionary workplaces? If so, is it a priority to have a workforce that feels employees are treated both fair and equal? It really should be.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas, NV

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Categories: Blogs

Unlimited Time Off Programs: Don’t Force Employees to Lie About Their Whereabouts

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Kronos, a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Kronos recently announced that, in less than a month’s span, it was named to four separate best workplaces lists by Great Place to Work in Canada, India, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Many congratulations to them! Enjoy the article.)

As summer is coming to an end, I’m reminded that one of the best workplace trends to happen in business today is unlimited time off programs. Not because we can take a lot of time off, although that can be nice. It’s because we don’t need to lie about where we are.

Today’s Time Well Spent from our friends at Kronos took me back to a time when, if we wanted to enjoy a beach day, we would suddenly come down with some sort of illness (cough. cough.). Of course, that illness is the 24-hour type and it’s not one where we usually need to visit a doctor and get some sort of note. You know what I’m talking about.

With unlimited time off programs, when we want to get in our last beach day before pumpkin spice season, we simply work it into our schedule. We coordinate our plans with colleagues and the boss. And we take the day off guilt-free.

Unlimited time off programs allow employees to be honest about their time-off request. A founding principle in positive workplace cultures is trust. For employee engagement to happen, it requires trust. If we want to create and maintain trust in the workplace, then we can’t design employee programs that require a lie for employees to use them.

When employees can plan, their productivity increases. One of the biggest challenges when employees call off at the last minute is getting the work done. Everyone has to juggle schedules, and something always gets pushed to the side. Unlimited time off programs allow employees to have more control over their schedule, which means they can plan their work in advance. 

Managers don’t want to confront employees about this type of stuff. Don’t get me wrong, managers know that part of their job is to address behavioral issues. And they will do that when they need to. But managers also want to be cool. They don’t like being placed in a position where they have to nag employees about every little thing.

If you’re thinking to yourself that unlimited time off programs are a recipe for workplace anarchy, check out the article I wrote last year about how Kronos implemented an unlimited time off program and its results. Employees are using the program responsibly and the company is able to redirect the savings toward other benefit programs that employees have been asking for. That’s what is called a win-win.

Organizations are always focused on performance. We want to create programs that allow employees to perform at a high level. This doesn’t mean they can’t take a day (or two) off. It means letting them decide when to take those days off and holding them accountable for results.

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Categories: Blogs

How to Plan for an Organizational Emergency

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 02:57

Whether you’re a freelancer or a large multinational organization, it’s important to have an emergency plan. It would be wonderful to say that we don’t need to plan because nothing bad is going to ever happen, but that’s just not very realistic.

No matter what type of business you operate, you’re going to occasionally have to deal with an emergency. It could be a natural disaster. Or maybe an accident. Possibly a scandal. Waiting until something unexpected occurs to put a plan in place doesn’t make sense and could actually cost the business more than the emergency created.

At WordCamp Orlando, one of the speakers gave us a good outline for an emergency response plan. They used it in the context of social media damage control, but I think the principles apply to any type of emergency.

  1. Plan! I love the pyramid image above to show the relationship between planning and response. A small amount of planning equates to a large amount of damage control. Want to reduce your exposure? Plan more.
  2. Detect. This reminds me of my “seeing the dirt” story. Employees at every level of the organization need to look for organizational vulnerabilities and report suspicious or detrimental activity for investigation.
  3. Verify. When an incident occurs, it’s important to verify what happened. In today’s 24-hour news cycle, it’s easy to get caught up in rumors and speculation. Take a moment to verify what took place. This doesn’t have to be a full-blown investigation but do make sure that what people say is going on…is really going on.
  4. Response. Identify in advance who the organization’s subject matter experts are. When an emergency happens, call in the specialists. They should be prepared to assist.
  5. Investigate. This step works in concert with #3 Verify. The verify step is to confirm there’s an emergency. In the investigation step, the organization needs to get details – who was involved, what happened to cause the incident, where did it take place, when did it happen, how did it happen, and finally why is it happening.
  6. Communicate. I cannot emphasize enough the value of giving the company’s spokespeople media skills training. When an emergency strikes, the community will want some sort of response. In addition, employees will want to know what’s going on. Being able to communicate effectively – internally and externally – is essential.
  7. Remediate. Once the emergency has subsided, the organization should conduct a debrief. Ask two questions: A) What went well? And don’t say nothing. There will be things the company does well. Even during a disaster. B) What could we do differently or better next time? Please note I didn’t say “wrong” because….
  8. Review. And update the plan accordingly. In the last bullet #7 Remediate, I mentioned doing things differently next time. It’s possible that the company didn’t do anything wrong. You followed your plan to perfection. But that doesn’t mean you won’t want to make your plan stronger for the next time. Because chances are…

There will be a next time.

Emergency and disaster planning can help us understand our organization. They can help employees prepare for the unexpected. And they can make our operations stronger. The time and resources we spend planning will help us at a future date. Make the investment. Your employees and your business will thank you for it.

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Categories: Blogs

Employees Want to Work with Technology In the Modern Cloud

Tue, 09/24/2019 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Kronos, a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Managing your workforce just got a lot smarter with Workforce Dimensions, a solution designed to provide both a world-class employee experience and unprecedented levels of operational insight. Enjoy the article!)

In the first part of this series about the future of work, we talked about the need for organizations and individuals to work smarter. Part of working smarter is using the right tools. This is where decisions about technology have an immediate impact on work.

In a study published on Training Magazine, respondents talked about employee stress and burnout being linked to using outdated technology. I hate to say it, but this totally makes sense. Employees who are forced to create workarounds because they’re dealing with old technology are quickly going to get frustrated. They’re doing double or triple the work and still being held accountable to the same performance standard.

According to CIO Magazine, 93 percent of Millennials consider technology to be the most important aspect of work. And I’ll just add that I honestly believe this feeling extends beyond Millennials. No one wants to use 2-3 programs to get something done. So, what do employees what in terms of technology tools? Two things:

  • They want to work in the modern cloud. This means providing technology and tools that empower employees to reach their full potential and work smarter while working their way.
  • It also means configuring technology to align with the employee experience so it can create better outcomes for the organization, harness workforce innovation, and deliver exceptional results.

This may sound great in theory, but it’s actually really hard to execute in practice. That’s because legacy solutions are often hard to integrate. I asked Mike May, senior director of the Workforce Dimensions Technology Partner Network at Kronos why technology integrations are such a challenge when they’re so common in today’s business environment. “While tech integrations are commonplace in any organization, they’re often limited to batch-based data sharing at pre-determined times. Sometimes, the entire system actually has a blackout period where no one can use it.  That’s just for data sharing. It’s even more challenging to embed one solution inside another to offer employees a single user experience. Instead, they’re still forced to master multiple applications, often left feeling frustrated by the friction this creates with their actual priorities at work.”

Technology Partnerships Bring Together Strengths

The good news is that organizations don’t have to build a customized solution. Technology solutions like Workforce Dimensions are creating it through strategic partnerships and features that apply specifically to your business and to your culture.

EXAMPLE #1: Microsoft and Google. While the Microsoft Office Suite is widely used for business, Google’s G Suite is also tremendously popular. Both platforms integrate with Workforce Dimensions, giving managers the ability to work with tools they are comfortable with.

Here’s an example of how they could be used alongside Workforce Dimensions. Instead of tacking up a paper schedule on the breakroom cork board or emailing the team a spreadsheet schedule, department managers can empower employees to sync their schedules with a feature such as Google Calendar, where they already track and plan their personal lives. This provides anytime access to their schedule and makes it easier to plan work around life events.

Similarly, for managers who already spend all day working in Microsoft Outlook, Workforce Dimensions integrates directly with the wildly popular email client. This means they no longer have to leave Outlook and log into Workforce Dimensions to review and approve time-off requests. Instead, they get all the information they need in a special sidebar, saving them clicks – and more importantly, time – while also responded to employee time-off requests even more quickly. 

Instead of logging into Workforce Dimensions every time an employee requests time-off, managers can review and respond directly from Microsoft Outlook.

EXAMPLE #2: Rodio. If you’re not familiar (I know I wasn’t), Rodio is an artificial intelligence chatbot that facilitates conversations (like shift swaps). In today’s workplaces, email is not the most predominant form of communication. And everyone’s emails are not prioritized the same way, meaning people often delete emails without reading them. In a traditional office, this may not be a big deal…that person will go out of their way to convey the message. But what about employees in the field services industry who spend all day on the road, traveling from location to location with possibly little contact with their colleagues? Think telecom installation techs, home health givers, and janitorial workers. Or transportation and logistics, where long-haul truckers may be on the road for days at a time.

Rodio segments or compartmentalizes information so employees are part of the right conversations. The ones that make sense for them. The ones they need to pay attention to. An added benefit in the Rodio technology is that it will auto-mute when the employee isn’t working. Then send an ICYMI (in case you missed it) message when the employee returns to work.

Bringing Partnerships to Reality Benefits Employee Performance

We regularly talk about the need to align talent management strategy with business strategy. Organizations can do that through the use of technology.

A month ago, I introduced you to a company called Passport that helps organizations increase productivity when it comes to responsive scheduling and driving routes. Well, I recently heard about a partnership where Passport, Rodio,, and Kronos partnered together to build a home health services application on top of the Kronos D5 platform, which is the foundation of Workforce Dimensions. The app is called FieldCentric and it brings patient administration, route assignments, and schedules together into a single, easy to use app. Employees no longer have to log into several apps to get their jobs done. They can focus on taking care of patients.

This is becoming a bigger and bigger focus for a dedicated team at Kronos – they’re developing a partner ecosystem to not just create integrations but bring together multiple technology partners to leverage what each does best to rapidly build new solutions that solve unique workforce business challenges on top of Kronos D5. This is exactly what we’re talking about. Giving employees a technology experience in the modern cloud will not only benefit them but the organization’s bottom-line.

P.S. If you want to learn more about the Workforce Dimensions solution and how it can benefit your organization by helping your employees work smarter, visit the Kronos website and request a demo.

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The New Employee – Employer Social Contract

Sun, 09/22/2019 - 02:57

One of the workplace-related conversations that’s happening with more frequency is focused on how new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing jobs. There are people who say that computers are going to take away our jobs and others who say computers are going to create new and different jobs. I’m kinda sitting in the camp of “both”, meaning new technologies are going to eliminate some positions while at the same creating new opportunities.

But it has occurred to me that the jobs conversation is only one piece of it. I just finished reading Peter Weddle’s book, “Circa 2118: What Humans Will Do When Machines Take Over” while at the same time, taking the massive open online course (MOOC) from MIT on “Shaping Work of the Future”. While Weddle and MIT don’t always agree on the future, I must admit that I enjoyed experiencing these two different views at the same time. It helped me to realize that new technologies are changing not only jobs but the employee / employer social contract.

For many decades, the employee / employer social contract has been about employees receiving a living wage in exchange for their work. And in turn, this would help employees achieve a stable life. That philosophy is changing, because of society which includes technology.

Work is becoming – if it’s not already – a social interaction. What happens to us at work impacts our well-being. This means the entities that influence what work looks like need to change to keep up with the times. For example, when it comes to technology:

Businesses can make investments in technology to benefit the operation. Organizations can use technology to make decisions and augment work. And the strategic use of technology can increase the profit line, allowing organizations to provide a better employee value proposition (EVP).

Education can shift toward a “lifelong education for all” not just in schools but for organizations. Individuals must continue to own their career development. This includes not just taking classes but learning how to identify skill needs like an increased focused on collaborative skill building as well as learning how to fail.

Government can be a catalyst for innovation. They can reduce bureaucracy, encourage public and private partnerships, be more open to invocation and change. Their efforts can be a catalyst for reducing global issues such as income inequality.

Labor can be agile, modern, flexible, and adopt a focus on career advocacy. We’re not talking about our parents’ unions. Unions have an opportunity to be strategic partners with business versus adversaries and help organizations achieve their goals.

Technology advancements are shaped by us, so we do have influence into the future of jobs. As HR pros, we need to be sure that the jobs we’re creating have quality. Jobs will still exist in the new technological environment and we know that the look of those jobs will be different. That includes what skills will be required. Better education is a must. But this means that with better jobs, better pay must come along with it.

We have an opportunity to educate people on how to see and manage this big business altering change. We can do that by adopting more of a both/and (versus an either/or) approach. Both at a business level as well as with individuals. Our goal shouldn’t be to become “robot proof”. In fact, the goal might be to collaborate with robots. Think of it as working with Janet to get out of the “bad place” instead of fighting with Janet. (Can you tell I’ve been binge watching “The Good Place”? ha.ha.)

I know this is a big bundle to unpack and I admit that I don’t have all the answers. I do know that technology is changing work. All technologies aren’t necessarily great for business and we need to make sure technology works to realize its full benefit. We also have to ask ourselves, “Is the new social contract realistic?” HR professionals will want to keep technological trends on their radar and proactively develop an opinion about them before being forced to react to whatever is happening.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference in Washington, DC

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Categories: Blogs

Workplace Warrior: 5 Steps to Better Productivity

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 02:57

I’m always looking for ways to be productive and I’d like to think that most people are as well. No one wants to waste their energy. That’s why I was intrigued by this infographic from Lucidchart. They conducted a survey to determine the ways people are more productive.

While some of their findings we can’t change, like being the youngest makes you less productive. There were some common themes worth mentioning. Here were my five big takeaways:

  1. Stepping away from the computer. We regularly hear that finding time to disconnect from our technology is good for us. It doesn’t have to be for days or weeks. Simply setting clear boundaries can be just what we need to be more productive. For example, no devices during meals. Or no devices on date night.
  2. Curate your workspace. Personally, I love this one. I like being surrounded by fun things when I work. It makes me happy and I think my productivity is better. Even if you work in a traditional office environment, is there something you can do to your office space that will make you smile.
  3. Working from home. Not everyone has the ability to work from home, but if you can even have an occasional day away from the office…take it. I won’t lie; there’s something wonderful about working from home in your pajamas. Changing up your office environment can be a huge boost to productivity.
  4. Practice self-care. The infographic mentions diet and while I can see hunger being a distraction, I do believe in practicing good nutrition. I know I’m more productive when I eat right and exercise. I’m also more productive when I get a good night’s sleep.
  5. Breaks, lunches, and vacation! It may be tempting to postpone or not take time off because of the emails that will be waiting for you when you return. Resist this urge. We need our breaks, lunches, and time off. It allows us to turn off our work brains and return refreshed and perhaps even more prepared to tackle a big project.

Some of you might be saying, “This isn’t really a new list.” And that’s exactly the point. The things we can do to make us productive have been around for a while. Our challenge is often sticking to them. When we get busy or a big deadline is approaching, we might start to abandon these steps. Which impacts our productivity. Ultimately, it ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, consider today’s post a reminder. Take care of yourself and your productivity will take care of you.

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SHRM Certification: 10 Proven Tips for Effective Study and Test-Taking

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 02:57

I’ve written before about the value of certification. I believe being certified can set you apart and I think the process of becoming certified can be educational and rewarding.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of working with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as an item writer for their certification exams and now I work with them to facilitate certification prep seminars. I love being able to share my knowledge and help people earn their certification.

One of the questions I’m asked a lot is “What tips do you have for someone working toward their certification?” So, I’ve decided to share with you my top ten tips. While this is focused on the SHRM credential, I’m sure you can take these tips and apply them to any type of certification you’re pursuing.

  1. Get familiar with the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge (BoCK). First things first, the exam is based on the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge, also known as the BoCK. Want to know what’s on the exam? Review the BoCK. You can download the SHRM BoCK on their website. Also on the SHRM website is an interactive guide that allows you to read more about each competency and access career development resources.
  2. Learn about the exam itself. I believe one of the keys to success is understanding the exam details like the number of questions (160), format (multiple-choice), and time limit (4 hours). ICYMI, there’s a new book out from SHRM titled “Ace Your SHRM Certification Exam”. Among many other things, the book covers the exam structure and the two different types of exam questions.
  3. Determine which exam you want to take. SHRM offers two credentials: the certified professional (CP) and senior certified professional (SCP). It could make sense to do your research in tips #1 and #2, then decide which exam you want to earn. Each credential has its own eligibility criteria, so you’ll want to review each and decide for yourself.
  4. Create a study schedule. And stick to it! Yes, you are a knowledgeable, successful HR professional. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to study. This is a standardized exam and many of us haven’t taken this type of exam for a while. So, plan to study. And make studying a priority. This is the top regret I hear from people who don’t pass the exam. They fall behind in studying and never catch up.
  5. Find a study buddy. Or a study group. If you’re concerned that you might be one of those people who could become easily distracted from your study plan, think about finding a study buddy or group to help with accountability goals. I’m one of the moderators for a Facebook group focused on certification study (and that’s all we discuss). It’s called The SHRMinators. You’re welcome to join us.
  6. Consider taking a prep course. I’m not just saying this because I teach prep courses. Some people find that taking a prep course at the beginning of their study helps them to focus. Some people take the prep course at the end of their study as a final boost before the exam. Either way, a prep course can help you achieve your certification goals. One thing I do want to add though, certification prep courses do not teach you what’s on the exam.
  7. Make yourself a set of flash cards. I just read an article on Lifehacker about “Using Old School Index Cards for Capturing New Ideas”. Index cards are inexpensive and a great way to jot down acronyms you want to remember or the essential elements for a piece of HR legislation. You can carry them with you and do a quick review while waiting at the dentist’s office.
  8. Take practice exams! There are quite a few SHRM study resources available that offer practice exam questions including the SHRM Learning System. I always like to say that the key to certification is 1) the content and 2) the exam. Taking a practice exam, studying, and then re-taking the exam can be a great way to gauge your study efforts and build confidence.
  9. Develop a ritual for answering questions. What I mean by this is, when you read an exam question, put a little process in place for yourself to answer the question. For example, “I’m going to read the question and all the responses. Then eliminate the responses I know are incorrect. Finally, I’ll choose the best answer.” It will take some time to turn this process into a habit, but it could help with second-guessing yourself on exam day.
  10. Practice self-care. Earning your certification is a big goal and it involves a lot of work. Taking care of yourself is important. Get plenty of rest. Eat well. Visit the exam center beforehand to see what it looks like. Be comfortable on exam day. I’d like to think that we would all agree that being stressed out isn’t the best approach for studying or for taking the exam.

Earning your SHRM certification can be a valuable step in your career development. But I’m not going to sugar-coat it…earning your SHRM certification is also hard work. Putting a plan in place to achieve your goal will definitely help.

P.S. If you want to learn more about SHRM Certification Prep Seminars, check out the SHRM website. They offer both in-person and virtual programs as well as a new one-day “Power Prep” program which is focused on test-taking skills and specifically tailored to the specific exam levels – either CP or SCP.

SHRM logo used with permission

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Categories: Blogs

How to Create Inclusive Employee Education Benefits

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions, which manages education benefits available to over 5 million U.S. employees.  Be sure to check out the case study in Chief Learning Officer magazine showing how State Farm uses educational benefits to improve their recruiting and retention efforts. Enjoy the article!)

According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employee say they would stay with a company longer if the organization invested in their learning. That’s a significant statistic. With unemployment at record lows, employee retention is important. The LinkedIn report raises the question: How can organizations invest in employee learning to improve employee retention? There are two types of learning programs: we could label them as internal and external.

Internal programs include technical training, management and leadership development, mentoring, etc. These are programs that are often developed and/or delivered by internal staff or contractors hired by the company.

Then, there are employee educational benefits, which I would put in the external category because the employee often chooses the subject and the place of delivery. Two of the most common educational benefits are student loan repayment programs, which we’ve talked about in the past, and tuition reimbursement, which is what I want to focus on today.

4 Key Elements of Employee Education Benefits

Before we dive into specifics about tuition reimbursement programs, let’s spend a few minutes talking about program design. Whenever we’re faced with designing any type of benefit, there are four key elements we should consider. This is absolutely true for employee education benefits.

ELEMENT #1 – Alignment with talent objectives. Employee benefits should help the organization recruit, engage, and retain the best talent. Benefits don’t have to be expensive to do that. They do need to be things that have value and employees want.

ELEMENT #2 – Communication to candidates and employees. In the Bright Horizons State of Education Benefits report, they draw a connection between program success and regular, proactive marketing of employee education benefits. Organizations need to remember that they cannot simply mention a benefit during an interview or in new hire orientation and think they’re done.

ELEMENT #3 – Relationships with strategic partners. Many employee benefits involve outside partnerships. Think health insurance, life insurance, gym memberships, food/snacks…you get the point. In the case of tuition reimbursement, we’re referring to both education providers like colleges and universities as well as third-party benefits administrators.

ELEMENT #4 – Attractive and available to all. I must admit that I saved this one for last and I want to spend a little extra time on it because I believe it’s the element that’s a big challenge for employers. What makes employee education benefits effective is inclusion and the way to be inclusive is through utilization. Bright Horizons shared with me that historically, across all industries, around 5% of employees make use of traditional tuition reimbursement programs.

In my opinion, when unemployment rates aren’t at historic lows, organizations might find 5% utilization to be a great metric. But when you think about the skills gap and employee retention challenges facing organizations today, then it might be time to reconsider.

A benefit doesn’t become effective by being created or documented. One could argue that a benefit that no one uses really doesn’t even exist. It becomes effective and inclusive when employees use it.

Now, I understand that an education benefit will not receive 100% utilization. However, if organizations want to reap the benefits that an education benefit offers, then utilization needs to be higher. Go back to the LinkedIn statistic I mentioned at the beginning of this article. If education benefits are linked to employee retention, then an increase in participation should drive a corresponding increase in retention.

6 Areas that Can Create a More Inclusive Education Benefit

If your organization doesn’t already offer a tuition reimbursement program, now might be a good time to consider one. And if you do offer one already, now might be a good time to audit your existing program to make sure it’s something that all employees would be interested in and able to use. Here are six areas to consider:

Program name. I know I’ve been using the word tuition reimbursement throughout today’s article, but it might be time for a change. It’s possible the word tuition is considered synonymous with going to college. And education is about much more than that. Maybe “education assistance” is a better way to describe the benefit.

Eligibility. According to Bright Horizons research, 74% of organizations only offer tuition reimbursement to full-time employees. As companies look to improve employee retention, they want to retain both full-time and part-time employees. Especially in industries with a large front-line workforce where part-time employees often move into full-time positions.

Waiting period. I was (happily!) surprised to see in the Bright Horizons research that almost 40% of organizations do not require a waiting period for employees to utilize tuition reimbursement. But that still means many organizations do. Companies need to weigh the financial cost of delaying access to the benefit against the results they’re missing out on.

Financial models. Asking employees to pre-pay for their education and wait for reimbursement can be a huge barrier to participation. Especially in industries with a large entry-level workforce. Companies might want to consider working with their program administrator to offer direct payments to education providers and remove the need for an up-front payments by employees.

Education. What I mean by education is whether the only goal is a college degree related to the employee’s current position. It could make sense to expand the types of courses allowed to include general education diplomas (GEDs), language courses, certifications and/or credentials, as well as degrees in subjects that are valuable to the organization but not directly related to an employee’s current career path.

Delivery models. Today’s technology allows individuals to learn from practically anywhere. And the quality of online education has significantly improved, with many new innovative high-quality education options. Organizations might want to consider allowing massive open online courses (aka MOOCs), exclusively online colleges, or even non-university online education providers like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to be included in educational assistance programs.  

Use Employee Educational Benefits to Retain Talent

Despite all of the news about the rising cost of education, some newer education providers that are focused on adult learners can provide a great learning experience at a much lower cost than the traditional classroom-based approach.

Learning can be a way to attract, engage, and keep talent. Employee educational benefits are a way to provide and support learning opportunities. But those programs must meet the needs of all employees, not just a handful.

If you want to learn more about designing an inclusive modern educational benefit, join me and the EdAssist Solutions team on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at 12n Eastern for a webinar on “Open Access: Effective Education Benefits for Frontline Workers”. And of course, if you can’t make it…sign up anyway and get the recording. Hope to see you there!

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