How to Onboard Your Remote Staff

Every new hire, whether on-site or remote, should involve a formal onboarding process. Virtual employees are an increasingly popular staffing option. An appropriate onboarding program is needed to ensure that remote workers are productive and content in their role.

If you provide virtual employees with the right tools and communication platform, you can keep them engaged and accountable. Learning from the experience makes onboarding remote workers easier.

Why Is It Vital

New hires adjust more quickly with a well-planned onboarding strategy. The process should introduce new employees to their coworkers, the company mission, and the technologies they’ll be working with. This includes any documentation they’ll need to know, such as organizational charts and policies.

A thorough and welcoming onboarding process helps to build personal relationships and define expectations. New employees must be made comfortable with their coworkers and engaged with their jobs as early as possible.

Remote workers are more likely to feel isolated and unappreciated without a positive orientation strategy. If workers feel less involved their performance will suffer. An onboarding strategy that makes them a familiar and vital part of the team is crucial to integrating them into the company culture and forging bonds with colleagues.

Onboarding

Local employees have the opportunity to meet coworkers and managers face-to-face. They’re typically introduced to the other members of the team and have the opportunity to ask and answer questions. Observing reactions can also tell you a lot about how those relationships may progress.

Geographic distance and time zones can make relationship building a challenge for remote workers. They are less likely to understand the atmosphere and culture if they can’t be there in person. Normally, the best you can do is introduce them via scheduled video chat or conferencing.

When preparing to onboard remote workers, define the job description, responsibilities, and skillsets you need. Your onboarding program should incorporate necessary steps but still be tailored to each individual.

Here are some best practices to follow as you start taking on virtual employees.

office-work-desk-computer-81363

Direct Communication

Human nature is such that putting faces to names is important in making personal connections. If time and budget allow, bring remote workers to headquarters for face-to-face orientation and introductions. If not, daily connections via video conferencing can get them involved with the team.

New employees should be made to feel welcome so that they can be relaxed and feel free to ask questions. Mentoring with different employees can also help them build relationships. You and your employees, both in-house and remote, are also able to observe facial reactions and body language to provide more context.

Streaming video will give you a chance to take remote workers on a tour of your facilities without the need for travel. They should be introduced to their team members and other key players in the company. Virtual employees should also be involved in meetings so that they have a chance to give opinions and make suggestions as part of the team.

You might also suggest to other team members that they make the effort to welcome and get to know their new coworker.

Setting Expectations

Ensuring that your new worker is able to become productive from day one requires explaining your expectations providing direction. A few days beforehand, make sure you’ve provided them with a course of action. Keeping your remote hires engaged with their new role is the key to successful onboarding.

Your new hire should understand the timeframes you’ve set for getting them up to speed, team goals, company’s telecommuting policy, and personal responsibility. Make sure they have access to resources like HR policies, tutorials, schedules, and the various forms and procedures they’ll use. The more information you can provide, the more comfortable the remote worker will be.

pexels-photo-374016.jpeg

Make Your Hires Feel Welcome

Introducing a remote team member can also be quite an adjustment for on-site employees, especially if the new team member is from a different culture. It’s important for building a good relationship that both the remote hire and in-house employees ask questions. Before the new hire starts work, be sure to explain to the team what the virtual employee’s duties and responsibilities are, and workarounds for obstacles such as time zones.

At the same time, you should pay attention to the remote hire’s behavior and dialogs. It’s important that the remote worker feels comfortable functioning within your corporate culture and following team procedures. Virtual employees will be more productive if they feel welcomed and respected as a team member.

A good strategy to accelerate the process is to set up a mentorship program for the first week. Have the virtual employee work closely with your senior team members. This way they’ll retain knowledge better through direct experience and quickly develop a few strong relationships.

Assess and Evaluate

When you’re developing a process, it’s important to measure its effectiveness to make improvements. Collect feedback from your team, both individually and as a group throughout the onboarding experience. They may point out things that were missed or make suggestions to make the next onboarding experience go more smoothly.

It’s also crucial to get the reaction of the new remote hire, both during the process and after they seem settled into their role. Document what you’ve planned and assess the feedback you’ve received to refine the process. In time you’ll figure out what works best for the new hire, your team, and the company.

In summary, hiring remote workers is becoming a more common way to onboard new talent. They can provide your team with a fresh perspective as well as excellent skills. You should develop an effective onboarding process to make the transition easier.

It’s important to ensure that remote hires are comfortable, well-informed, and made to feel welcome. Document and improve your onboarding process as you move forward. Your new hires will be happier, more engaged, and more likely to remain with the company.

Effective onboarding practices will be a more productive experience for your company and your virtual employees.

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4 Things You Need to Know If You Want to Do Business in Asia

Ever since we entered the 21st century a lot of things have changed rapidly in business. The advancement of technology and the global use of the internet has created many opportunities around the globe. Today there are fewer business barriers than ever before as the whole world is completely connected.

Entrepreneurs and companies can easily get in touch with someone across the globe or acquire information that they need to start their business incentives abroad. Asia is becoming one of the hot markets for business investments, as this region is opening up to the West and offering many opportunities, given the fact that the market is still not saturated.

This is why a lot of people are looking to do some business in the East, no matter if we are talking about finding outsourcing partners or starting up new offices in Asian countries. However, there are certain specifics you need to know about Asia from a business perspective to make sure that everything goes as planned.

1. You will have to connect with locals to help you

A lot of people make a terrible mistake by thinking that they can do everything on their own, without anyone’s help. Even if you travel to the country that you want to do business in, you will never be able to make all the arrangements on your own.

There are many reasons for this. First of all, Asians are unlikely to get into business with a foreigner instantly and give their trust right away. You will need a person that knows the laws, the business environment and has the connections needed to “break into” the market

2.  Understand “the concept of face.”

This is a very important thing when it comes to business in Asia. Simply put, this concept means that you need to avoid shaming anyone with whom you do business and blaming them directly, even if they are the ones responsible for the mistakes that have been made.

When someone “loses face,” it basically means that they lost their reputation as a business person and this might mean the end of your cooperation for good. Be mild when telling someone that they are wrong and always take a part of the blame on yourself as well.

For example, if someone doesn’t understand what you are proposing, excuse yourself and say that you are not clear enough and this is how the whole situation can be resolved without the person losing face.

3. Culture is very important

Bear in mind that Asia is culturally very different than the West and that they pay a lot of attention to things that might not even be considered when doing business in Western countries. In Asia, respect and courtesy matter, so you need to have an open relationship with people.

When someone is aggressive and overly ambitious here, they are considered to be inexperienced. Learn some local expressions if you cannot comprehend the language, as this shows that you respect the country you are in. Also, make sure that your business incentives don’t clash with the religious beliefs in the country you are in.

4. Luxurious brands are well-received in Asia

Luxurious western brands which sell “cool” stuff are usually accepted quite readily by the Asian people. Asia is becoming more and more connected to the West, and people there love adopting Western culture and gadgets, as they find them incredibly cool. Still, it’s important that your products deliver the user experience that is promised or your audience will quickly turn on you.

Remember that Asia is a growing market and that there are many business opportunities lurking in this part of the world. In the end, make sure that you respect the country that you want to do business in, and that you never think of Asia as one big country, as there are many differences between all the different countries.

HR Buzzwords or Actual Recruiting Strategies?

HR and Talent Acquisition (TA) industries have been going through some major changes in the past few years. Following the new trends, people have come up with new terms, HR technology, expressions, as well as new TA strategies.

Some experts believe that these new terms are just buzzwords, while others believe that they have become inevitable strategies of every successful recruiting and hiring strategy.

Here is my list of some of the newly introduced HR expressions.

1. Recruitment Marketing

Recruitment Marketing is an expression used to describe methods used for communicating organization’s Employer Brand and Employee Value Proposition to attract high-quality job candidates to apply for their open positions.

Recruitment Marketing strategies are described as methods with the main goal of improving Candidate Experience and encouraging Candidate Engagement.

Many companies that follow latest trends in the world of HR technology, use features offered by Recruitment Marketing tools to better communicate their Employer Brand and Employee Value Proposition.

2. Inbound Recruiting

Inbound Recruiting is a method of creating targeted and branded content with the purpose of increasing your firm’s popularity and strengthening your Employer Brand.

Inbound Recruiting follows the famous Inbound Marketing strategy; technique for drawing customers to products and services via recruiting content marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimization.

The number one goal of every Inbound Recruiting strategy is to engage qualified candidates and convert them into job applicants to expand talent pools.

3. Candidate Relationship Management

Candidate relationship management (CRM) is a method for managing and improving relationships with current and potential future job candidates. Many companies use CRM technology to automate and ease communication process with the job seekers, encourage their engagement and improve candidate experience.

For example, some Recruitment Marketing tools offer solutions for creating engaging email campaigns to provide highly relevant, educative and interesting content in order to build stronger relationships and expand their talent pools with highly-qualified job candidates.

4. Employer Branding

Employer Branding involves all the activities and tactics used to communicate Employer Brand and Employee Value Proposition to passive and active job seekers.

In today’s “War for Talent” Employer Branding strategies are considered very important when it comes to solving one of the biggest recruiting challenges – attracting high-quality applicants.

LinkedIn’s research has shown that more than 75% of job seekers research about firm’s reputation before they apply for an open position. Companies that have weak employer brands not only have problems in attracting candidates, but also in retaining employees.

employer-branding-retaining-employees

5. Data-Driven Recruiting and HR Analytics

Data-Driven Recruiting or HR Analytics are two expressions used to demonstrate new recruiting methods in which HR Professionals make hiring decisions based on data gathered through HR technology such as Applicants Tracking Systems and Recruitment Marketing Platforms.

Data-driven recruiting has proven to improve some of the most important hiring metrics such as time to hire, cost to hire and quality of hire.

hr metrics

Question:

If you had data available that proves that referred candidates take shortest to hire, fastest to on-board, require least money and stay longest with your company, would you still waste your money on job boards and job promotions or would you improve your Employee Referral Program?

If you are wondering which HR metrics should you be tracking, here is our checklist of most important HR metrics with tips for improvement.

So are these just buzzwords or actual recruiting trends?

Remote Work Is Changing the Way We Lead

Remote Work Is Changing the Way We Lead

Written by Georgiana Beech, specially for The HR Tech Weekly®

Vintage Workplace

It goes without saying that businesses must adapt to changing employment trends or risk becoming obsolete. In order to recruit top talent and build an innovative, valuable workforce, companies must offer environments and perks that are attractive — that is, they must be modern and malleable.

With technology becoming entrenched in all aspects of the modern office, opportunities for remote work are abundant. According to the University of Alabama, 20 to 25 percent of American workers currently telecommute in some way, though up to 90 percent would like to. Slowly, the traditional office is fading.

Employees can now be scattered not only across the county, but across continents. With a multitude of business applications available, managing projects at a distance has never been easier. Communication between multiple departments (or even cooperating companies) streamlines the workflow and ups efficiency.

However, management across teams comes with a new set of challenges. Leaders need to switch up their style as much as employees do. Previously, American attitudes toward business have endorsed an every-person-for-themselves school of thought, encouraging workers to worry only about their personal progress.

Now, distance has forced a more group-minded approach. Employee development must be focused on critical thinking and problem solving. When working remotely, even though technology provides abundant connection, there is less immediate support available. Therefore, employees must be capable of higher-level assessment and problem management.

Managing employees equipped with more abstract skill sets may be challenging for some leaders. Your team may become noticeably self-sufficient, solving more problems on their own. This can be challenging to cope with if you’re used to leading with a very assignment-driven agenda.

You may also see your team diversify as you take on members from other companies or countries. Working with employees from different cultural backgrounds can create barriers to effective communication. You may have to contend with factors such as power distance, communication expectations, and conflict management styles.

Even if you feel comfortable navigating intercultural communication, your employees may not. With communication being a fundamental tenet of successful telecommuting, it is important to make sure that your employees feel prepared and empowered to tackle these challenges.

It can seem overwhelming to adopt a management style that’s appropriate to remote workers. It may even seem overwhelming to implement the technology necessary to make remote work possible. Based on the economic trade-off, though, the learning curve is worth it. Employees are happier and often more productive, in-office business costs lower, and you keep your business on the forefront of trends.

The infographic below, provided by the University of Alabama, details the current attitude towards remote work, as well as some of the implications for leaders as their offices make the switch.

Virtual Team Leadership: The Highs & Lows of Leading a Team Remotely
Source: Virtual Team Leadership: The Highs & Lows of Leading a Team Remotely | UAB Online Degrees

6 Tips to Better Manage Your Landscaping Business

Getting into the landscaping business is a truly rewarding experience as the fruits of our labor are actually palpable. However, as our influence reaches more and more people and our business starts to expand – we are faced with a unique transitionary period where we need not only manage ourselves but others under our wing. Despite the number of challenges we are all destined to face, none of these are insurmountable. In reality, most of the pitfalls of expansion can be avoided by utilizing the previous experiences of others and laying out a solid plan. This turns a turbulent period into nothing more than a smooth ride.

Scale accordingly

First and foremost, a business owner has to understand that management systems are an ever-evolving entity and that every company and situation requires a specific approach. What once worked for a one-man operation will most-certainly not be enough to manage five people, let alone fifty. Ignoring this issue is a surefire way to end up in a logistical nightmare with no way of reliably knowing what transpired within the past month, let alone the fiscal year. By figuring out our needs and hiring personnel to manage employees or come up with systems to keep track of everything efficiently – we pay a bit more upfront but save thousands in the long run.

Hire responsibly

There’s no way around it – your employees will be the face of your company, like it or not. They will be the first, and hopefully not last, face they see when procuring a service. Whatever the task might be, it is an absolute necessity that these people are sufficiently trained and upbeat about their job. Nothing breaks a deal like a general unwillingness to do one’s job and a bad attitude towards customers. A bad employee will get rooted out eventually, sure, but the damage they could do to your brand and company isn’t something that will go away as easily. Tread carefully.

Train your people

When you do actually find people worthy of your trust, make sure to train them in the field. Always offer them opportunities to improve upon themselves and rack up those references for their CV down the line. Any form of training can be presented as a bonus to employees as it increases their skill set while also reflecting positively on the company itself as its workers are trained and have a wide variety of skills. This will also allow you to somewhat tweak pricing to reflect the quality and professional help you’re offering to potential clientele.

Motivate

With an increasing workforce, it can get extremely hard to find the right methods to motivate everyone equally. However difficult and time-consuming it might be, it is imperative that every employee feels appreciated and like they have a higher purpose – a reason to work hard. Make sure any company needs are communicated properly and that every worker knows exactly what their job is and when it is complete. Leave no room for misunderstanding and be as transparent as you can afford – this forms bonds akin to a family instead of an office and makes them feel like part of something bigger.

Invest in GPS tracking

More than just a safety net for rogue drivers, GPS tracking allows for drivers to get from point A to point B more efficiently and improves customer support. Installing GPS tracking isn’t a big deal and you have systems like Teletrac which offer real-time tracking with updates every few minutes. This can help give updates to worried customers, help provide an ETA, find out where a driver has been during his shift etc. This also has the Big Brother effect – employees will know that they have a GPS in the truck and will avoid slacking off.

Quality makes a difference

With all of that out of the way, it’s time to focus on what we’re actually offering to our customers. Simply put, quality service only works if complemented by a quality product. Your employees can be experts in the field all they like if they don’t have the right materials to work with. Strike a deal with a trusted local supplier like Sand4U or other trusted companies in your region to guarantee the best materials and even use their own influence to your PR advantage. With quality personnel and a quality selection of materials, the sky is the limit.

The gist

Handling a company is no easy feat and surviving in this dog-eat-dog world is truly an accomplishment. When starting out, it’s important to look ahead without getting ahead of ourselves. This essentially means that we need to anticipate future problems, come what may, without going so far as to lose sight of what’s directly in front of us. By following these steps, we set up a good set of guidelines to make sure we stay our course through and through while allowing us enough flexibility to adapt and overcome any challenges our business is sure to face down the line.

Affordable Care Act Reporting Software

The Biggest Challenges of Affordable Care Act Reporting

Written by Adam Miller, HR Compliance Manager, Passport Software, Inc.

Affordable Care Act

I’ve helped hundreds of Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) manage their Affordable Care Act requirements and file their 1094-C/1095-Cs. Though each had different reporting needs, the same question kept coming up…

How do I complete Part 2?

1095-C Part II
The original source: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1095c.pdf

Lines 14, 15, and 16 make up Part 2 of the 1095-C and provide details of an employer’s offer of coverage to a full-time employee. Knowing how to correctly complete this section is imperative for Affordable Care Act compliance and avoiding penalties.

Line 14—Use code 1E.

Choosing a line 14 code requires you to know three things:

  • Was coverage offered?
  • Did it meet minimum standards?
  • Was it available to the spouse and dependents?

Deciding on the best 1A-1K code to complete line 14 has one extra nuance, and it can save you hours of scrutiny: If a full-time employee is offered coverage and has the unconditional option to add their spouse and dependents to their plan, you may use the corresponding 1E code for all employees offered coverage—even those who are not married or do not have children. Since spouse or dependent coverage doesn’t need to meet any cost standards, there is little reason not to offer it.

With this allowance, most fully ACAcompliant companies will find they can use Line 14 code 1E for every 1095-C they submit, instead of 1B for single employees, 1C for single parents, and 1D for childless couples. Your life is already easier, isn’t it?

Line 15—Forget about Line 14.

This continues to be a very tough concept to nail down. The IRS wants to know: What is the monthly employee’s share of the least expensive, employee-only plan available to this person?

Let’s review each part of that statement.

  • Employee’s share—the employee’s remaining portion after the employer’s contribution.
  • Least expensive—the qualifying plan with the lowest monthly cost available, often referred to as bronze level. This is not what the employee is paying for a more comprehensive plan.
  • Employee only—One Person. Forget that on Line 14 you reported that the offer included the spouse/dependents. For the purposes of ACA reporting, it does not matter which plan an employee actually enrolls in, only what they could have chosen and what it would have cost them.

Line 16—What happened after Line 14?

It isn’t difficult to find that code 2C applies to employees who accept an offer of coverage, or that 2B is used for a part-time employee. Things start to get murky with code 2D. Code 2D refers to the variable-hour[i] employee who is in their Initial Measurement Period, also known as the Look-Back Method.

People start to panic when it comes to employees who were offered insurance but declined. In their 1095-C Instructions, the IRS wrote 1181 words describing all the Series 2 Codes in use. Nowhere does it say “Use code __ if the employee declined coverage.” In cases where you have made an a fully qualified offer which an employee has turned down, use whichever of 2F/2G/2H matches your method for calculating their income and ensuring affordability:

  • Use 2F if you look at W-2 Wages
  • Use 2G if you use the Federal Poverty Level
  • Use 2F if you look at the employee’s Rate of Pay

Congratulations…

Not only have you completed Part 2, but unless your company self-insures, you can bypass Part 3 completely!

What’s the next step?

Knowing how to correctly use the codes and contribution fields is fundamental, but organized tracking of ACA-related information throughout the year is equally important to save time and avoid penalties. A good, regularly maintained spreadsheet is a serviceable option for smaller ALEs with straightforward ACA reporting. For larger employers, or more complicated reporting, a specially designed software solution or service will reduce the compliance workload and help avoid penalties. A good one will help you accurately manage changing and editing data and even create the 1094-C/1095-C forms or electronic files.

Passport Software’s ACA Software and Services range from on-premise software to full year-round compliance management services. Our friendly service is fast and accurate, and our customers have given us great reviews. Our software is IRS-certified and we are IRS-approved to file on behalf of our clients.

Dealing with past years reporting troubles? We can help there, too.

Learn more about Passport Software’s ACA Software and Services, or call us at 800-969-7900.

[i] variable-hour refers to cases where it is unclear whether the employee will be comfortably above or below the 130 hour per month full-time threshold.

Form 1095-C
The original source: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1095c.pdf

About the Author:

Adam Miller

Adam Miller is the HR Compliance Manager at Passport Software, Inc. He designed their ACA Software and, as a support tech, he has helped hundreds of people with Affordable Care Act compliance and reporting.  Adam has a background in engineering, the service industry, and print, which makes him a technically proficient and friendly communicator for Passport Software.

Passport Software, Inc.

181 North Waukegan Rd, #200

Northfield, IL 60093

800-969-7900

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A man at the glass-desk with laptop. An image from kaboompics.com.

5 Ways Outsourcing Your Payroll Can Improve Work-Life Balance

Written by Jan Van Mol, Head of Global Alliances at SD Worx.

Outsourcing Payroll

There are plenty of reasons why outsourcing payroll strategies can be hugely beneficial to your company. Typically, it is the financial arguments that are used, not the emotional ones. However, there are many ways in which outsourcing your payroll can improve the wellbeing of your employees and can restore their work-life balance.

It’s well known that happier employees are much more likely to commit themselves fully whilst at work, bringing increased employee retention rates. Yet, many employers don’t realise that changing your payroll strategy can have an incredibly positive effect on the happiness of your employees. Here’s five reasons why:

1. Reduced workload

If your team is overworked and understaffed, an outsourced payroll strategy is the perfect way to get things back on track. An outsourced payroll strategy takes away the need to recruit and train an additional team member, and can dramatically reduce the workload of your staff much more quickly than getting a new member of staff.

Reducing this workload will make your employees instantly happier as the amount of potential overtime required will fall. Working fewer extra hours will allow employees to improve their work-life balance and will free up time for them to do the things they really love outside of work.

2. Reassuring the workforce

Payroll duties are sometimes given to members of staff who already have packed schedules with their own duties and responsibilities, which can lead to an anxious workforce.

Some employees may also feel concerned about other staff members having full access to their salary details. Moreover, relying on an over-tasked employee to process payroll can create tension for employees who expect to be paid accurately and on time each month.

By outsourcing payroll, an impartial person has access to salary details, which will eliminate any personal tensions surrounding payroll. Knowing that an outside specialist has sole responsibility will also reassure employees that their payroll matters are being taken care of, leading to a more relaxed workforce, a better work-life balance, and a better company culture.

3. No delays

Internal payroll managers are subject to the same demands on their time as everyone else in your company. If a company is going through a busy period where everybody’s help is required to solve an urgent issue or meet an external deadline, those members of your team responsible for payroll are no exception to this.

By outsourcing your payroll to specialist company, you hand over a big responsibility that would require lots of time, money and pressure on payroll employees. The payroll process becomes the outsourcing company’s top priority, so the internal team can focus on other tasks. There are few things which disgruntle an employee more than delayed pay, so offer your employees guaranteed on time payment by using an outsourcing partner to handle your payroll.

4. Lifting the pressure

Managing payroll is a huge responsibility, since you are personally responsible for the livelihoods of everyone in the company, many of which will be close personal friends and colleagues. This can put a lot of moral burden on an employee.

Outsourcing your payroll removes the personal element, as the person making sure that everybody is paid each month won’t individually know the people whom they are paying. Taking this emotional burden away from one of the members of your staff will relieve them of a huge weight, meaning that they are less likely to have to put in long hours to get the payroll sorted in time and will be able to regain a much better work-life balance.

5. Lead by example

Making a positive action such as changing the way you run your payroll will have a trickle-down effect throughout the business. Firstly, it will show employees that their payroll is an essential part of the business, and will lead the way for other changes in different areas and departments.

Many workplaces suffer by not adapting their strategies as the business grows and develops. Outsourcing your payroll strategy is a great example to show your teams of how to be proactive about making changes for the better that will set the business up well for its next phase. You’ll be amazed at how influential such a decision can be, and how large an impact it can have on the mindset of your workers.


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Engaging Executives: HR’s Responsibility to the Higher Levels

Engaging Executives: HR’s Responsibility to the Higher Levels

Engaging Executives

When experts talk about employee engagement, most people imagine lower-level employees and middle managers. These workers have minimal authority over their daily tasks, they are the least job-secure, and they tend to receive the lowest pay and worst benefits packages, meaning they are most likely to be disengaged from their work. As a result, the web is filled with engagement solutions to keep lower-level employees around.

Yet, while HR professionals devote the bulk of their energy to engaging this portion of the workforce, executives are suffering. Though they have greater responsibility and greater remuneration for their efforts, executives can still disengage from their work, lowering their productivity, and endangering the entire business – including those workers at lower levels. However, the engagement solutions that work for lower-level employees rarely apply to higher-level business leaders. Therefore, HR professionals need an entirely different strategy for executive engagement.

Understanding Executives

HR typically doesn’t pay much attention to executives for a couple reasons:

  1. Executives already earn high salaries, and they generally have more control over their schedules and tasks. Therefore, the monetary rewards and engagement strategies HR is most familiar with don’t work.
  2. Most HR reps can’t relate to executives.

Most HR professionals have more in common with low-level employees than upper-echelon executives. Most HR reps earn respectable salaries and average benefits; they complete daily tasks that have little bearing on the greater goals and direction of the company; and only the CHRO and similar top-tier HR workers ever interact with executives. Thus, few members of HR comprehend the lifestyle and struggles of working in the higher levels of an organization.

The first step to engaging executives is understanding executives. It is important to consider that although executives might boast different responsibilities, they are still human. As such, they experience stress and concern for their jobs, their subordinates’ jobs, and their families’ well-being. Further, executives have interests and hobbies, they consume media, and they take pleasure in small joys like the rest of us. Remembering this, HR reps should find it easier to empathize with higher-level workers.

It might also be useful to know what executives discuss with one another – which is not nearly as disparate from the lower-levels as HR reps might expect. Alongside infrequent discussions about business direction and organization design, executives lament their full schedules and intrusive meetings, gossip and chat about mutual acquaintances and people within the organization, and generally talk about what work needs to be done. A savvy HR professional will note that their discussions are nearly identical to those of lower-level workers.

HR’s Responsibility to the Higher Levels

Engaging Executives

Aside from their wealth and authority, executives aren’t terribly different than anyone else within a business. Therefore, HR reps only need to determine what motivates individual executives to develop effective engagement tactics for the upper echelon. Some common higher-level motivators are:

  • Need. Executives have finely honed talents, and they want to know their talents are integral for business success.
  • Passion. Like everyone else, executives want to like what they do.
  • Chemistry. Workplace culture is important; even executives want to like the people they work with.
  • Challenge. Executives tend to be competitive. If a job isn’t challenging enough, most will disengage.

It isn’t difficult to develop engagement programs around executives knowing how simple and common their needs and wants truly are. To stimulate their need motivation, HR reps can institute a “thank your boss” day, where higher-level employees receive executive gifts. To improve chemistry around the office, HR can organize team-building exercises that are mandatory for the C-suite.

Another useful tactic for engaging executives is to connect them more closely with their subordinates. While some high-level managers are naturally proficient at seeking out and befriending low-level employees, most executives maintain a boundary between themselves and the grunts. HR should strive to coach executives in their behavior toward lower levels, revealing their blind spots when it comes to leadership methods and results. HR should lead by example, placing people first and exemplifying how executives should interact with other members of the organization.

If necessary, HR should encourage executives to enroll in leadership training courses; just because they’ve reached the higher levels doesn’t mean they can’t acquire new skills and knowledge. If an organization invests in its people, its people will invest in the business – even executives understand the value of that.

About the Author:

Tiffany Rowe

Tiffany Rowe is a leader in marketing authority, she assists Seek Visibility and our clients in contributing resourceful content throughout the web. Tiffany prides herself in her ability to create and provide high quality content that audiences find valuable. She also enjoys connecting with other bloggers and collaborating for exclusive content in various niches. With many years of experience, Tiffany has found herself more passionate than ever to continue developing content and relationship across multiple platforms and audiences.


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HR Specialists Talk About Their Stances On Time Tracking | Featured Image

HR Specialists Talk About Their Stances On Time Tracking

HR Specialists Talk About Their Stances On Time Tracking | Main Image

The exponentially growing digitalization of business and life itself is disrupting almost any industry in every country, and it didn’t bypass their HR departments either. Until recently, HR has operated relatively separately from the other parts of the organization, but the evolution of HRMS and SaaS solutions made the HR embedded in everyday business just as much as Marketing or R&D. On the other hand, just like new technologies have created new forms of organizing work (think about digital nomads and virtual organizations), so must the way of managing those employees differ from the conventional ones.

In my attempts to understand the challenges of managing people in large enterprises, as well as the shift in the approach that technology brings in this area, I spoke to a couple of experts in this area – a director of HR department in a large corporation, and a CEO of HR software developing company, about their views on employee time tracking as a business practice. Their rich experience in “both sides” of human resource management allowed them to discuss the benefits of this concept, but also to elaborate their objections.

It’s not for everyone

The first professional I talked to is Sonja Jovanović, head of HR in Serbian branch of accounting and advisory company Ernst&Young. Besides using manually filled timesheets for tracking revenue streams, and punching cards system for checking in and out of the building (although this serves primarily as a security measure), the company does not use any other forms of time tracking, nor do they intend to in the future. Working hours are flexible, remote work is allowed in some circumstances, and their company culture simply doesn’t leave much room for implementing this type of business practice.

The very nature of the industry of providing high-quality services to business clients requires a substantial level of professionalism and severity of their personnel. It takes a tremendous amount of confidence, followed by the strong and thorough selection, to entrust a client to a group of employees. “ […] Therefore, I do not see a situation in which a time tracking tool could bring any value to our organization,” says Sonja.

In EY, performance reviews and feedbacks are being conducted through the complex network of department managers and counselors, and though the employees do use computers, their performance simply cannot be seen nor measured by the amount of time spent on particular computer activities. “Our HRM is digitized in many ways, but tracking time does not fall into that. It simply isn’t applicable, because you cannot gauge the scope and quality of intellectual work by time,” she explains. “The more you try to frame people and their creative process, the greater the set-down will be, and the poorer results you can expect. This simple principle is something that many discipline-obsessed managers fail to understand.”

It’s about culture and priorities

In order to find which companies do find time tracking useful, or even a must have solution for their business, I spoke to Ivan Petrović, CEO of WorkPuls, a company providing time tracking solutions for businesses around the world.

“When it comes to implementation of time tracking solutions in medium and big companies, there are two basic factors that affect this. The first is the company culture, and the way productivity is understood in the company. The second factor are the individual views of managers, especially the HR Directors and their priorities”, says Ivan. WorkPuls works with various companies, from BPO companies, software and video gaming companies to construction companies and e-commerce businesses. While they think that there are certain patterns that one might observe among use cases of different customers, they say that there are also differences among specific goals different managers want to achieve.

“If you are in charge of HR in a company that has more than 500 employees like one of our clients, and your top level management has an initiative to increase productivity, or just wants to gain better insights into current ongoings, you might sometimes feel that it is impossible to know what everyone is working on currently, how happy or productive they are, and whether some teams or employees might be too loaded with work. So you want to find a way to get your insights efficiently, and this is what a good time tracking solution should provide. Such software gives you an easy overview of what your employees are doing at any given time, if this is what you want to know, but also whether they are getting more or less productive over a specific period of time; if they have too much work to do, whether they are “morning birds” or “night owls” and so on. With these insights, it is easier to work together with your employees to optimize workflow, provide a better working atmosphere, and consequently bring up the productivity of the whole company. Of course, all under the condition that your employees’ work is dominantly computer-bound,” explains Ivan.

Smaller companies, however, seem to have a different motive. “Speaking of smaller to medium size businesses, many times owners or managers look for an easier way to monitor whether everyone is working as promised, or they want to use insights to reduce the waste of time,” explains Petrović. “But there have also been cases where business owners used time tracking to see whether their employees needed any additional training with the tools they use. If some of your employees are spending way more time on those Excel sheets or Google Translate then the rest of the team, that might suggest that it’s time for additional training in that specific area.”

Since large companies already have their own payroll accounting solutions and punch in/punch out systems, the analytics side of time tracking software here becomes much more significant. Ivan mentions security related questions, along with the need to integrate time tracking data with other data in the company.

“There is an increasing need in this field to provide ever more flexible solutions, balancing the transparency for the employees with solid protection of security and privacy, within the company, but also towards the outside. Integration with other systems is also important.”

Control or motivation?

The overall impression was that for companies like these time tracking would not be yet another control mechanism, but a tool for improving the insight of HR professionals in everyday work and interactions of their people as well. It seems that if you are willing to dig deeper into the metrics, you might discover some remarkable ongoings which would hardly be detected in traditional ways of performance management. For many managers, this feels like a big step forward.

Although the digitalization of HR activities has opened great opportunities in terms of increasing the speed and quality of analytical processes and providing greater insights into organizational affairs, while at the same time reducing costs, there are still some downsides to be looked after. Downsizing the HR departments or burdening HR professionals with technical details are the first threats to successful adoption and modernization of people management. The serious threat to privacy that technology presents is the main reason why the initiative for using such tools should and must come from the HR. Bearing all this in mind, we can conclude that the basic challenge of the profession will be to recognize, develop and exploit the positive potentials of digitalization, while at the same time avoid, or at least minimize the concomitant risks.


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Performance Management in Agile Teams and How to Improve It

Performance Management in Agile Teams and How to Improve It

We’re living at an exciting time in the history of work. Everything from the way we design our workplaces to entrenched ideas of organizational hierarchy are being questioned and even rejected in favor of new processes, designs and ideas which favor flexibility, customization and, above all, agility.

One such ingrained concept which is being totally revamped is the idea of the team. Rather than the traditionally static top down teams, knowledge intensive organizations are reformulating this concept to better fit their fast paced environment.

The great thing about this reconceptualization of the team is that there is not one but several new models which are being taken and adapted to fit the needs of the organization. Customization and experimentation are key.

team-network-infographic
Source Deloitte University Press

However, the unique characteristics of these teams also means that they don’t necessarily fit into standard HR processes, especially the annual performance appraisal. Traditional top down annual reviews were created for static teams in which managers, peers and reports stay the same and an individual’s year long performance is assessed. The challenge for HR will be to redesign performance appraisals so that they can be customized for each teams’ needs.

Here are some common characteristics of these new types of teams which HR will have to take into account:

Self-steering

The main idea behind these new types of teams is to increase agility. One of the most important parts of this is keeping decision-making at the team level. Rather than having to wait for approval, these teams have the ability to act fast facilitating a more flexible response to sudden industry changes. These sudden changes in direction also require flexibility in goal-setting and constant feedback to help get everyone on track.

Cross-collaborative

These teams consist of people with different areas of expertise, thereby, both enabling each member to leverage their strengths to accomplish team goals and facilitating knowledge-sharing within the team. For example, Spotify has created its own grids of employees based on different groups, tribes, chapters, etc. of skills. Watch this video to see how their system works. With everyone bringing a different skill to the team in order to reach a common goal, feedback is key, not only from team leads, but also from peers.

Ad hoc

These may not necessarily be static teams but can also be project based groups which form and disband on a needs basis. For example, gaming company Valve is famous for allowing their employees complete freedom to form and move between groups based on their interest in a project, even providing them with rolling desks which can be moved along with their owner.

Creating psychological safety in teams

According to Juan Castillo, Scrum master at tech company Impraise, no matter what type of team you have, creating psychological safety is the most important element you need to create a successful team. This is difficult to build as safety requires trust, which can only come when people feel comfortable sharing ideas or raising concerns without being judged. The term psychological safety was originally coined by Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson and later found to be the top quality needed for a successful team during Google’s Project Aristotle study. Read more about psychological safety.

How can HR create a performance management process that fits the needs of these new types of teams and, at the same time, fosters trust?

Performance management in agile teams

Rather than trying to fit these unique types of teams into a traditional annual performance appraisal framework, allow teams to customize their own performance management cycles which are sprint or project based. This could include:

Sprint or project based performance appraisals: Rather than basing performance reviews on year long performance, allow teams to decide when performance assessments are most needed. In the past, pen and paper reviews took hours for HR to set up and then distribute the results. Using a performance management tool gives team leads the power to set up reviews in minutes eliminating hassle.

Empower your people: The best people to receive development advice from are those you work with the most. If your people move frequently between ad hoc and project based teams they may miss the opportunity for valuable insights from temporary team members. Allow your employees to take ownership of their development by giving them the flexibility to choose who they want to receive feedback from during their performance appraisal.

Continuous feedback: In these teams everyone has their different field of expertise but the point is not to keep this knowledge separated. Agile teams present a unique opportunity for upskilling and growing your talent organically. Make the most out of this by facilitating continuous 360-degree feedback outside of performance reviews.

Feedback moments: Creating specific moments during which people share feedback with each other can help train positive feedback behavior within teams. The more people are prompted to give feedback the more they’ll become comfortable with it and then begin sharing it on their own.

As Castillo shared with us, this has to start at the top level. As a scrum master he regularly asks his team for feedback after retrospectives to see how they can be improved so that everyone benefits. Leading by example can show the rest of the team that it’s ok to ask for and receive feedback.

Another important moment during which feedback is essential is during sprint demos. It’s not only important that agile teams share the work they’ve accomplished with other teams, but it’s essential that they’re also able to receive external feedback, especially from individuals in customer success or sales who are working directly with clients.

Finally, a major part of creating a successful and comfortable environment is by taking time to celebrate success. Let people know that their hard work won’t go unnoticed.

You may be wondering, if you give these teams too much flexibility over their performance management process, how can you ensure alignment across the organization?

HR’s role in creating a self-service performance management system

While teams should be given the flexibility to choose the performance management style that works best for the way their team works, there are three things HR will need to do to facilitate this self selection based environment:

Competencies: Create core competencies which will help you align and compare team performance across the organization. Likewise, having a library of competencies will set the standard for new leaders learning how to best guide their teams.

Technology: It’s up to you to choose a performance management tool that allows each individual group, team tribe, etc. to customize their own process within the same platform. Impraise is one option which has been chosen by over 100, mainly tech companies, including Atlassian, Fandango and Shopify.

Data: Using one platform allows you to collect, analyze and compare the performance of different teams on core competencies. Use this data to gain insight into the health of your teams. Rate of feedback exchange within a team can be a great indicator of psychological safety.

There can be no more one size fits all performance management process. Instead, it’s time to build an agile process that caters to the needs of agile teams.


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