HR Onboarding Techniques for New Companies

A startup’s onboarding process can be less process — and more improvisation. But as your company scales, a system is needed to get your new administrative hires started on the right foot. A Bamboo HR poll found that employees who quit in the first six months of being hired felt that the job wasn’t what they expected. More than half (54%) said they quit because they didn’t want to do the job any longer, or their role wasn’t what they expected from the interview.

Considering the amount of time and effort it takes to find and onboard a new hire, retaining staff should be a priority. And it all starts with the Human Resources manager and team — the employee’s first point of contact for onboarding. Across all industries, HR managers are hired for their abilities to communicate and present information. Here are some techniques and security tips for new HR managers to present the best possible onboarding process for their new hires.

Best Cybersecurity Practices for HR Professionals

The HR department is responsible for sensitive employee information, including:

  • Social Security Numbers (SSN).
  • Medical records.
  • Birthdate.
  • Home address and family member information.

In most cases, the sensitive information is kept digitally in computers or on the cloud. This practice is generally safe, but there are vulnerabilities you should look out for to prevent the data from being compromised.

Comply With Recordkeeping Regulations

Keep updated on federal, state, and local privacy laws on how records should be kept and make sure you and your department are following the rules. Regulations may change, so it’s essential to review your company’s process, compared to current laws, and update the company privacy policy as needed. Consider the following regulations:

  • Employee record retention: The S. Department of Labor outlines how long a company’s HR department should keep records. Employee payroll documents and collective bargaining agreements must be kept for at least three years. Time cards and employee schedules must be kept for at least two years.
  • Medical records location: The Americans With Disabilities Act requires employers to keep confidential medical records such as health exams, worker’s compensation history, and leave requests separate from employees’ personnel files.
  • Data breach reporting: HR professionals in California must notify employees if the company reasonably believes their personal information was accessed by an unauthorized individual.

Know the Proper Method of Disposing of Sensitive Paperwork

Disposing of employee data is a combination of company policy and federal, state, or local regulations. Know how long you should legally retain documents and data, as well as how your company disposes of it.

Sensitive records may need to be burned or sent away to an outside service to be destroyed in compliance with federal regulations. Following your company’s guidance on the disposal of data and documents is essential to avoid data being reconstructed, read, or distributed illegally.

Look Out for Internal Cybersecurity Threats

Most HR employees are aware of the danger of external cyber attacks from hackers, phishing, or viruses. But company software or an employee’s access to internal systems can also create threats.

An example of an internal threat is email. You send a requested employee file to the wrong email address and end up compromising your hire’s private information. To minimize internal threats, follow these steps:

  • Never use or disclose an individual’s full social security number in correspondence.
  • Turn off the auto-fill feature that remembers numbers or email addresses in your email and word processing programs.
  • Regularly run virus and malware checks on your company computers.
  • Take your cue from the healthcare industry and keep software and operating systems maintained and up to date.

Best HR practices for New HR Employees

Onboarding new hires is a critical aspect of the employee’s future in the workplace. The HR department is responsible for reinforcing the company’s image, projected during the recruitment process. Getting off on the right foot is essential. The HR department should implement specific practices to ensure new employees know what to expect on their first day and beyond.

Start the Onboarding Process the Day Before the New Hire Starts

The reasoning behind this step is so that everything is organized before the recruit arrives. Have employee handbooks and documents ready. Set up and equip the new hire’s work station. Create logins and email credentials beforehand. Make sure staff know about the new hire’s arrival and assign a mentor in advance. Having the important elements prepared in advance allows onboarding to go more smoothly on his or her’s first day.

Create a Welcoming Environment

The new hire’s first day sets the tone for the employee’s time at the company. A welcoming environment and a little creativity during the onboarding process doesn’t take much effort but makes a big impact on new hires. There are several elements that can create an ideal work environment — the office space, the initial point of contact, and the support team available to guide new employees. Consider these ideas:

Set the Stage With Good Lighting

The dark corner without a window can be demoralizing to staff. In fact, a study found that employees think good lighting is the No. 1 office perk. If your office environment lacks natural light, replicating the effect using certain lighting techniques can make a difference:

  • Create different lighting zones including overhead lighting, ambient lighting, and desk lighting
  • Use lightbulbs of a specific temperature (6500k) to replicate natural outdoor light and switch to LEDs to avoid overloading the office’s electrical system
  • Use light or white colors for surfaces and walls to reflect light and provide a brighter environment

Get Creative With Employee Perks

The best way to welcome a new employee to HR or other administrative role is with a surprise or an unexpected detail. Most new hires know what to expect on the first day — a pile of paperwork to be completed, handbooks to read, and an overload of information. But imagine welcoming them with a gift basket featuring a massage gift certificate, snacks, or a gift card. The small gesture could break the ice and shake the first-day nerves off.

Personalize the New Hire Welcoming Process

You’ve staged a well-lit environment that encourages productivity and created a thoughtful welcoming gift as part of the new hire onboarding process. Ensure new hires know what team members they can reach out to if they have any questions. Personally welcome each new employee and introduce them to key support staff, available to guide them through the initial work stages, to set recruits up for long-term success.

Onboarding for Future Success

Developing an effective onboarding process takes time. The effort will be worthwhile — your new hires are investments into your company’s future and should be given the best start possible.

Protecting their privacy with proper record keeping of their personal data, providing an environment that’s bright and conducive to productivity, supporting their growth in the company, and delivering on the promises made during the interview process will likely increase your chances of nurturing a long and successful work relationship.

Image Source: Pexels

Never Let You Go: Addressing the Challenges of Retaining Employees

Let’s face it: finding the kind of talent you need to give your business the competitive edge is tough, but what’s even tougher is holding on to that talent. Gone are the days when a gifted young upstart fresh out of college takes a job with a company and remains there throughout her professional career. According to estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, today’s younger baby boomer will have held an average of 12 different jobs in their lifetime. If you’re a millennial, the number is even higher, with the churn rate of young workers three times that of preceding generations.

And that’s not good news if you own a business. If your company is hemorrhaging employees, that also means it’s hemorrhaging money. When you lose an employee, not only have you lost the skillset for which they were hired, but you also lose productivity. And lost productivity means lost profit.

What you gain, however, are additional costs in recruiting and retaining new talent. In fact, the costs to replace an employee can be as much as 50% of annual salary for an entry-level worker—and for a senior executive, those costs can soar to as much as 200%! So, what can you do today to hold on to your most talented employees for many tomorrows to come? Read on to find out!

Find the Right People

The first step to holding on to your most talented employees is to make sure they’re the right fit before you even hire them. If your company is understaffed or there’s a particular position that needs to be filled urgently, the temptation to rush the recruiting process can be great. But that’s a mistake.

It’s far better to take the time you need to ensure that the candidate you have your eye on is a good fit for your company’s future as well as its present. Incorporating this long-term strategy into the hiring process is going to help you weed out those candidates who are only interested in or fit for a short tenure, versus those who are willing and able to invest in your company for the long haul.

Make a Good First Impression

It might feel like onboarding and retention don’t have much in common, but that’s actually not at all the case. In fact, your new hire’s onboarding experience is probably going to set the tone for how they feel and think about the company. Unfortunately, though, onboarding is something not many employers pay adequate attention to. Want proof? An estimated 42% of new hires don’t even have their own computers or workstations on the first day!

If the onboarding process is confused or haphazard, if the company seems unprepared for the introduction and integration of the new employee, that’s certainly not going to reflect well on the business, its staff, or its processes. And once you’ve lost your new hire’s trust, it takes a lot of time and effort to get it back. Worse, if your employee doesn’t trust you or feel good about the company in general, you’re probably not going to keep them very long.

If a new employee is being integrated into an existing team with a strong bond, your onboarding is going to have to include more than just making sure the new recruit has a workstation and some tasks for the first day. Team building will be essential to cultivating trust not just between you and your new hire but between them and their new team. At this early stage, encourage team building via more informal activities like daily huddles or team outings. These will allow all parties to get to know each other and foster bonds that will help everyone succeed.

Grow Your Talent

While it’s key that you screen your candidates carefully and that you provide your new hires with a seamless and skilled introduction to your company, your work is far from over. It’s just beginning, in fact. Because once you have your talent in place, you need to cultivate it. People don’t like to be bored. They don’t want to stagnate. And no matter how skilled your employees may be, there’s always room, opportunity, and desire for growth.

This is why professional development needs to be central to your retention strategy. Hiring a chief learning officer (CLO) for your business is a wonderful way to help you cultivate—and keep—your best talent. The goal, ultimately, is to provide your employees with robust opportunities to learn new skills and expand existing ones, to pursue new degrees, certifications, and licensures, and to advance within the company. Essentially, if your employee can see a future with your company, they’re more likely to stick around to make it happen.

Run the Numbers

Thanks to the brave new world of data analytics, employers now have more and better tools than ever to know their business and their employees. In fact, people analytics are a powerful way to monitor the performance, engagement, and satisfaction of your workforce. Best of all, these resources can help you spot emerging trends that might compromise morale or lead to the loss of your best people. And once you’ve identified the threat, you can do what you need to end it before it escalates.

The Takeaway

Now more than ever, business owners need savvy to ensure their businesses thrive in an increasingly competitive global business environment. Developing successful employee retention strategies is one of the most potent weapons employers have for cultivating an efficient, cohesive, and high-performing workforce to cope with the formidable challenges of doing business in the new millennium. What it takes, though, is a strategy of careful recruiting, seamless onboarding, continuous talent development, and the integration of the latest and greatest in people analytics software.

Image Source: Pixabay

 

How Promoting Health in the Workplace Helps Your Employees Productivity

A recent study conducted by the Social Market Foundation links the happiness experienced by workers to heightened productivity in the workplace. There was a 12% to 20% increase in work productivity in another study, which has prompted the claim that a happier worker is a more prolific worker in his or her workplace. With that said, there are countless implications of benefits to companies that can raise production by evoking authentic happiness in their employees.

On the other side of the coin, unhealthy employees will have a harder time being happy if they are struggling to achieve wellness in the workplace. If the focus were to shift to more investments in their employees’ wellness, businesses would see not only see the benefits of increased productivity, but workplace health promotion would lessen the employee absenteeism and presenteeism. By promoting workplace health, employers can encourage morale among workers and keep the retention rate of its valuable employees high.

Across the country, an increasing number of companies, particularly workplaces with 50 or more employees, offer a minimum of one perk to their workers that promote health and wellness. More attention by employers has also shifted to programs that deal with stress tolerance and stress management, physical fitness, controlling blood pressure, weight control and nutrition, cholesterol reduction, and even addresses chronic back pain. But what else can companies do to improve their workplace environments?

Benefits of Workplace Health Promotion

Encouraging things as simple as hydrating and sleeping will help your employees show up to work as their best selves. Your employees benefit from such programs and ultimately gain more happiness on the job, which carries over into the lifestyle choices at home with their families.

The positive effects of workplace health and well-being programs are also shown to increase engagement among team members, cultivate a cohesive company culture, and elevate the production rate of workers. Research suggests that healthier and happier staff are 12% more productive. Related to this, when in place, it makes sense that wellness objectives and initiatives lead to fewer days of disability leaves or callouts for sickness.

When your workers are healthier, they tend to be happier, and the occurrence of absenteeism is not so frequent. Employees in good health have an intrinsic motivation to remain at work. As research continues to reveal the link between the mind and body when it comes to healing, employees who are less stressed can also heal faster when they have a positive disposition. Also, practicing gratitude has shown to have tremendous impacts on a person’s risk of long term illness.

When it comes to your organization’s bottom line, consider that for the flu alone, in the U.S., 17 million workdays are missed at an estimated $7 billion loss in productivity and sick days. Also, take into account the rise in workers’ compensation rates and health insurance premiums. The health of businesses depends on seeing to it that measures get made to help employees remain well, with an estimated 25% reduction in those costs when employee wellness practices and programs are instituted.

The Significance of Inhibiting Presenteeism

Across from absenteeism is presenteeism, which is when employees come into work despite feeling sick. It’s terrible for business when employees work while under the weather because it can decrease productivity since workers aren’t able to perform at their best.

By working when sick, employees also deprive themselves of much needed rest which could help them to recover in less time. During cold and flu season, for example, those seemingly dedicated staffers who come into the workplace ill spread germs that could make others sick and further lessen productivity.

With well-being initiatives and workplace health promotion strategies in place, employees will make their health more of priority and take preventative measures to remain healthy and not inadvertently cause a productivity decline by not taking of themselves. Take, for example, U.S. food service workers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in their 2014 study that there is a high prevalence of presenteeism among employees in the industry, with 12% of flu-infected workers showing up for work despite diarrhea and vomiting.

Ways to Promote Health at the Workplace

These are a few ways some companies promote wellness throughout their organization:

Access to nurse advice lines

You may want to consider having a yearlong nurse advice line that is available 24/7 to staff. Nurses either via phone or the Internet can answer health questions and offer non-emergency assistance to help workers identify illness and know how to manage symptoms and diseases.

Even if you don’t want to extend personnel in this way, still your organization can be a resource of health information for your employees. For example, you could publish a monthly newsletter dedicated to health, new medical research and other health news. Or you could ask medical professionals in your area or your insurance company to host wellness fairs that introduce holistic approaches, mental health and other health services.

Manage air quality

Ensuring there is proper ventilation for indoor spaces is another way to keep your workers healthy. Poorly ventilated indoor spaces, in particular, with all the volatile organic compounds released from office furniture and equipment, could contribute to what is known as sick building syndrome, which could be counterintuitive to any wellness promotion by making employees ill and less productive.

Mindfulness Training

According to reports, 40% of workers say their jobs are “very or extremely stressful.” Workplace stress can manifest as emotional or physical harm in response to inadequate resources or unbalanced capabilities with an employee’s needs. An excellent tool for managing stress and encouraging relaxation is mindfulness training.

Mindfulness practices can help workers reclaim balance, which could have immediate effects on increasing their productivity. Employees will be more engaged and focused on completing day-to-day tasks. Mindfulness is a type of meditation that staff could use every day along with breathing techniques or yoga, which would bring the practitioners to the present moment while working for greater efficiency.

Fitness Amenities

To promote health and wellness in the workplace is a benefit in itself, but could go hand-in-hand with incentives and benefits like paid memberships to a gym or spa. Just as monetary rewards boost motivation and cultivate employer appreciation, offering these types of fitness associations will encourage employees to remain active, which is key to good health.

An on-site gym, when it’s feasible, will let workers workout together and regularly. One of the reasons many employees don’t take time to exercise is because they are too busy. However, by allowing flexibility in employees’ schedule for a half hour to go to an on-site gym or join an exercise class, it will be convenient and motivate them to keep physically active and boost anti-sedentary attitudes and productivity.

Have a discussion with your employees about workplace wellness. Allow for feedback, questions, and discover what issues concern or interest your staff. If you don’t have any programs in place or looking for ways to get started, you can contact your company’s health insurance provider to see if your group plan offers wellness training. Some providers may have educational materials that you could distribute to get the workplace wellness conversation started among your employees. Promoting health on the job and developing a well-being program for your workers doesn’t have to be complicated. Still, there are many resources available to take advantage of so your workers can be healthier, happier and more productive, which is a win-win for your business.

Image Source: Pixabay

What Technologies Might Replace Human Resource Professionals?

One recurring concern surrounding technology in the workplace is the potential replacement of living workers. In fact, this concern has been with us since the industrial revolution, with the introduction of factory machinery even prompting the formation of Luddite groups in opposition. Today we’re unlikely to respond in quite the same violent manner, but we are nonetheless wary of how machinery might make us obsolete.

Over the past few decades, we have witnessed a steep uptick in technological advancement and its introduction into the workplace, from robotics in manufacturing to artificial intelligence (AI) in diagnostic medicine. However, while some traditional tasks have been replaced by technological methods, machines are more likely to be used to support human talent rather than replace it. New technology has also shown potential for creating roles in entirely new industries.

The ebb and flow of labor due to change is well understood by those who specialize in human resource departments. But how could greater reliance upon tech impact the careers of HR professionals, themselves? Is there any cause for concern, and what opportunities might be presented?

Remote Teams

Remote work has proven something of a double-edged sword for some businesses. On one hand, technology has advanced to the point where we can employ a worldwide talent pool, yet we can’t always replicate the benefits evident in physical teams. While the trends lean toward remote workers primarily being used for project teams, 52% of companies that use virtual teams use this method in employing upper management, too. This tech advancement presents challenges for HR.

In this example, there is not a huge concern that remote technology might replace HR professionals. Rather, it is more likely to result in shifts in what is required and expected of those who take on these roles. There will be a need for HR professionals to understand how technology can enhance the hiring process — from utilizing artificial intelligence to narrow down potential candidates, to how best to use video conferencing during the interview process. What’s more, there may be an increased reliance on cloud services to track data and forms for all the remote employees, leading to a higher likelihood of data loss if members of HR are not up-to-date on their tech training.

It could also become necessary for HR professionals to gain a deeper understanding of company projects in order to best understand how to support individual teams and team members, especially when it comes to the nuances of hiring remote employees. In essence, this is an issue of leadership.

Nursing in the healthcare industry provides a useful illustration on this subject. Specifically, there is an emphasis on the need for transformational leaders who understand the technology being utilized and how it affects the holistic operation within work environments. Similarly, HR professionals need to grasp how remote employees best operate in order to provide services which have a beneficial impact on the entire company.

Training and Development

It is perhaps more helpful to look at the implementation of HR technology as a way to lighten the load of day-to-day duties, rather than a threat to the sector. One of the ways in which we are already starting to see digital platforms becoming useful is in learning and development. This is particularly important in businesses where L&D and HR roles are combined.

Educational technology (EdTech) has been useful in reducing the need for a dedicated staff member to be present during every aspect of training, for example. While HR and L&D professionals may need to become savvier in the initial building and ongoing maintenance of training programs to be delivered via EdTech platforms, once designed, there is relatively little need for supervision, and the in-person aspects of the course can be scheduled for convenience.

Thankfully, this is already in line with how most employees prefer to work. Millennial HR professionals will likely already be comfortable utilizing technology in various aspects of their work, and studies show that employees, in general, are keen to improve their digital skills. This bodes well for advanced technology that HR workers may need to introduce into training scenarios, including the rising popularity of virtual reality (VR) in corporate learning spaces.

Closer Human and Technology Relationship

One of the ways in which it’s important to look at technology’s role in any industry is through the lens of collaboration. Rather than simple replacement, elements of technology could prove to boost HR professionals in their daily responsibilities — enhancements that allow them to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently.

Combining technology with our bodies might seem like a drastic step straight out of a sci-fi novel, but it may also hold the key to more efficient working practices. Biohacking is, in essence, a method through which we can use scientific knowledge and equipment to better understand and utilize our bodily processes, including augmentation to optimize our bodies and brains in order to achieve our full potential. The success of any business often relies upon the productivity of its staff members, after all — so is it beyond the realm of possibility that HR professionals could develop expertise in this area which could help make themselves and staff more effective in their roles?

We’re not quite at the stage where chips are being implanted into brains, but biohacking isn’t just about hardware. Technology could be implemented to keep HR professionals and staff in routines that are beneficial to their health and productivity, too. Sensors connected through the internet of things could monitor life signs and activities, and recommendations could be made for supplements, or Nootropics, which could enhance cognitive performance. This combination of analysis, scientific knowledge, and augmentation may become part of the HR landscape as part of a generalized employee wellness plan, ensuring not only day-to-day productivity, but also minimizing areas of inefficiency such as sick days.

Conclusion

It may be time to ask fewer questions about whether machines will replace workers, and spend more time discovering how technology can evolve the roles already being performed. For HR professionals, there are exciting opportunities being presented by our rising digital landscape. By understanding how they can best form a collaborative relationship with technology, human resources departments can help give their companies a competitive edge in a constantly changing labor environment.

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5 Ways HR Can Learn from Project Managers

What do the departments of project management and human resources have in common? As it turns out, more than you may expect.

Although it may be news to some, many of the skills needed to manage the various intricate components of a project are the same as those required to hire, promote, and protect the employees of a company. Both positions include juggling a lot of pieces while also providing positive results. Here are five tips that HR personnel can learn from the project management team.

1. Planning

Planning is an essential step for all project managers. As soon as they are faced with a new need or assignment, the first step is to go to the drawing board and think about all possible solutions, and then figure out deadlines for completion, what staffing will be required, and any other additional needs. HR employees must take the same steps when it comes to filling the needs of the company and its assorted departments.

Just like with project management, it is all about defining what success looks like for the current needs and working toward them. How will success be measured? Are you looking to find anyone to fill a vacant position, or are you searching for candidates that can advance and grow with the company? What new positions may be needed in the future? These questions must be answered before the recruiting process can even begin.

2. Avoiding Pitfalls

Because of the complexity and impending deadlines associated with major projects, common pitfalls must be avoided so the process can move along as easily as possible. Some common project pitfalls might include a sudden procedural change or a project member dropping the ball on their personal responsibilities. Project managers must have contingency plans, and so should HR professionals.

Common pitfalls for HR managers might include limited awareness of employee rights, a failure to complete proper paperwork, or limited knowledge of disciplinary procedures. A major concern would be the loss of an employee from a team that is already understaffed. Plans must be created before potential pitfalls cause issues for your business. Create organizational charts and introduce training classes that ensure that every individual in your HR department is fully trained on their responsibilities, so all bases are covered.

3. Collaboration

Since a project manager is working with so many separate parts that are handled by an army of team members, there must be a good system of collaboration. Project managers need to understand that they don’t know it all and that their team should be involved in the planning process. This is the same in the HR department.

There are a variety of responsibilities within the human resources team, from employee relations and benefits to payroll and hiring. The trick is to work as one fluid group to ensure that the proper employees are hired, that they have all the necessary benefits and signed paperwork, and that they end up becoming a happy and productive member of the team. To achieve this balance, proper communication is necessary, so have a meeting with all staff members where a consensus can be reached for creating the best system of collaboration.

It is also essential for human resources staff to communicate effectively with the supervisors of each team in their business so they can know what needs are necessary. Managers should always have the ability to reach out to HR for important employee matters. Additionally, HR should also have an open-door policy for employees who have personal concerns.

4. Tracking

The job of a project manager is not one filled with rest and relaxation. Instead, constant attention is needed for projects that are often complex in nature. The only way for one person to take control of the chaos is with an effective tracking system that accounts for the movement of each team member, including what has been completed and what is still pending.

Human resources also involves many moving parts, and luckily, there are systems available for better employee management. When it comes to hiring, applicant tracking systems can provide stability as they keep track of current applicants, rank them in terms of ability to do the job, and ensure that all paperwork is presented. For current employees, you can take advantage of personnel tracking software that tracks employee paperwork, tax information, and certifications, among other important records.

5. Managing Personality Types

When project managers assemble their team, they understand that even though everyone comprehends the main goal of the project, every member of the team is not the same. Each employee has their own processes, motivations, and work ethic. Still, the manager must be able to understand these traits so they can bring out the best in every member.

Similarly, in human resources, the goal is to keep employees content. The employees of your company also have different motivations and levels of success that they want to achieve. It is important to work to those traits and promote those who deserve the opportunity. Employees also have different motivators. Some may be happy with a monthly bonus, while others prefer a fixed schedule. It is the job of HR to understand the core of each worker.

Yes, the HR and project management teams have much in common, and the professionals who best harness these skills will see the most success. Adding these traits will lead to happier employees in both arenas.

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Healthy Communication in the Workplace

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Communication is one of the foundational elements of a properly functioning workplace, and as an HR rep, you’re likely going to be at the heart of your office’s communication channels. Whether you’re discussing work-life balance, resolving interpersonal conflict, or training employees regarding company policies, communication is going to be a key to success.

Why Good Communication Matters

A company is a living organism, and as is the case with all living organisms, communication between its various members is essential. Whether a business functions within a single office, maintains several locations across a country, or is completely remote in nature, healthy communication, among other things, helps to:

  • Communicate company objectives and values.
  • Promote teamwork and collaboration.
  • Maintain healthy professional relationships.
  • Encourage work-life balance.
  • Resolve interpersonal conflict.

The list goes on and on. One way or another, healthy communication is involved in nearly every facet of a successful company, which is why HR professionals, in particular, should make it a priority to facilitate and promote proper communication within the workplace.

Tips for Good Communication

From general training to specific person-to-person interactions, here are a handful of the best ways you can facilitate good communication within your company.

Offer Training

Training is a useful tool that allows a large amount of information to be communicated to an entire group of people efficiently and effectively. You can promote communication within your workplace in multiple ways by utilizing training sessions and seminars.

For instance, you can establish clear boundaries and protocols in order to avoid blurred lines when it comes to things like personal and professional relationships within the workplace. All staff members should be clearly informed regarding topics like sexual harassment and how to communicate sexual consent with a work colleague. They should also be made well aware of how to report issues of misconduct to a superior.

Along with protocol like this, you can also use teaching scenarios to help communicate to employees the importance of finding work-life balance and maintaining their mental health while on the job.

Promote Resources

It’s also important for HR representatives to establish themselves as a central source of resources for those in need. For instance, it should be made clear that if an employee is struggling in their personal life, they can come to HR in order to find resources for counseling.

Another example of providing resources would be informing a victim of sexual assault where they can find a sexual assault nurse examiner. Even someone simply trying to maintain a healthy weight should be able to come to HR in order to find important health information.

If employees are continually empowered with resources that help them maintain their health and well-being, it will go a long way in helping to promote interactions and communication with an office as a whole.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

A good HR rep is going to keep their door open at all times. If you want to promote good communication, you want employees to feel that they can come to you whenever they have a need without the fear of being turned away or asked to wait. This kind of communication starts with a good open door policy, which helps promote trust and encourages those with a need to approach you confidently with an issue or concern.

In addition, make sure that you take the time to learn how to look for common signs of distress, even if someone isn’t consciously communicating something specifically with you. If, for instance, an employee is failing to relate their particular issue with you, you may be able to identify what they’re dealing with by looking for other signs.

Say, for instance, that an employee is struggling with the recent loss of a loved one or the fact that they’ve checked out of their marriage. You may be able to pick up on the signs that they’re unconsciously projecting and help them communicate their struggle.

Be a Mediator

While it’s always nice to be a source of comfort, sometimes providing good communication requires some less desirable action. Any HR rep worth their salt is going to be ready to step into the role of mediator whenever the need arises.

The less-than-savory task of leading employees through interpersonal conflict takes focus and skill. A good mediator will be willing to dig to the root of an issue and then provide strategies that are aimed at resolving the conflict and preventing further problems from arising in the future. If you find yourself faced with the task of being a mediator, it’s critical that you step up to the challenge with grace and wisdom in order to maintain the relationships at stake and restore healthy communication between the aggrieved parties.

Practice Active Listening

Finally, it’s always wise to both practice and promote active listening. If you want healthy interconnectivity to percolate throughout your workplace, you’re going to want to start with your own communication efforts.

Start by taking the time to actively listen to your company’s employees. Avoid passing judgment, be patient, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to summarize and clarify in order to make sure everyone has been heard. If you can demonstrate active listening on a regular basis, you’ll provide a benchmark of healthy communication for others around you to follow.

Achieving Proper Communication

Training, seminars, resources, mediation, active listening, and open-door policies are all essential ingredients for maintaining healthy communication in the workplace. However, the most important thing of all is for you to take the time to properly prioritize communication in the first place. If an HR rep focuses on keeping proper lines of communication open within a workplace, potentially negative scenarios can be identified and addressed quickly and appropriately, leading to a smooth, functioning office over the long term.

How to Plan a Successful Networking Event

Building your company’s profile can be a challenge. The marketing department only has so much control, but the overall image of your business can impact how well you attract and retain top talent.

Fortunately, you can make a big splash without having to run a significant PR campaign. By planning and hosting a successful networking event, you can position your company as a leader in your community and your industry.

What makes networking so powerful? And how can you ensure that it will be successful? Here’s what you need to know.

The Power of Networking

You may be tempted to think that networking is best suited to a time when you, as an individual, are looking to break into a new field or a new position. The truth is that a strong network can give you a competitive edge at every stage in your career, and this includes every stage of a business. Keep this in mind as you plan your networking event. Help people get the most out of the experience by providing tips on how to network successfully.

You can emphasize the practice of soft skills such as eye contact, positive body language, and listening. Encourage attendees to ask targeted questions and show genuine interest in the people they meet. Most of all, be a valuable resource for those who attend and continue to keep in touch after the event is over. Your organization should be building long-term relationships, after all!

As you think about who to invite and who should speak, consider those who have a lot of awareness of your industry and its challenges. These could be people within your company, or you can invite speakers from other areas within the business. Be sure to include people with a variety of backgrounds, such as cultural, gender, educational levels, and more.

A successful networking event can help put your company on the map with potential customers, employees, and others in your community. People love to talk about the great events they’ve been to, so you gain exposure well beyond the attendees.

Make it Easy to Sign Up

The tech behind your enrollment and reminders can be one of the best assets you have for your event. Not only is it easy for attendees to use, but it will also hold a wealth of information about the people at your event that you can capitalize on later.

Of course, you need an idea of the headcount so you can plan your event accordingly, but don’t overlook the contact information you gather. These people are the potential employees, clients, and connections that your business needs to grow and move forward.

Once folks arrive, have them check in even if the event is free. This allows you to see how many people actually attended compared to who signed up. Create badges from the registration data that you can scan before speaker sessions. This will allow you to see what sessions were the most successful. You can then follow up and get feedback on the event and connect more closely with attendees. With excellent networking on your part during and after the event, you’re much more likely to win new clients and attract high-quality employees to your organization.

 

Choose a Great Location

If your building has an appropriate gathering space, you can hold the networking event at your own location. However, most of the time it’s better to choose an upscale venue that’s nearby, such as a hotel.

An upscale venue gives a sense of professionalism and special access to the event. This helps attendees feel important and facilitates a strong connection to your brand. You can also have a larger event due to the space available in hotels, and the accommodations offer a place to stay for guests who travel to attend.

Find out what options you have for low-cost or even free events at the hotel. For instance, if you hold it near the hotel bar, you may be able to get a lower price. Be sure to choose your date wisely – you don’t want to overlap an important local event or game that may cause the hotel to be less flexible with you.

Choose an Effective Format

How is your networking event going to operate? Unless everyone already knows each other well, simply tossing a bunch of people into a room isn’t likely to be effective.

Choose one or more high-quality speakers to anchor the event who can give tips and tricks about industry topics. This can be a big incentive to attend and gives people something to organize the evening around. For a more creative option, organize a group activity that encourages interaction and cooperation, such as a cooking class or local tour.

Before and after the structured activities, encourage people to chat and share information. You can set up an official format for this, like “speed networking” where people meet for two minutes and then swap, or you can let it happen more naturally.

To keep things moving, have some of your team work to engage those who inevitably hang back. Knowing how to encourage introverts to network can be very helpful.

Evaluate Your Success

Once you’ve held your event, it’s time to look at how things went and what you learned. Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly – it can be hard to know right away whether your event was successful. The time it takes to build relationships means that you won’t know immediately if you’ve successfully gained new clients or high-quality applicants from your event. It might be weeks or months before this particular effort bears fruit.

To measure your results, keep track of your follow-up with those who attended. Make a special effort to connect with ideal clients or high-quality job candidates. Take note of how many become new customers or employees over time.

You also need to learn from any you made and what you want to do differently next time. Be sure to record those insights with your coworkers, so that you or the next event team can remember those lessons and improve the next networking experience.

Build Your Business With Networking

Networking events go a long way to boost the profile of your company. This not only helps you attract and retain the best employees, but it can also lead to additional clients or customers as well. You will also gain respect from others in your industry.

This can make a big difference, not only for your company but for your own career. You’ll be building new relationships for yourself as well as for your business.

Are you ready to make a splash in your industry? If so, get started planning a networking event today. Everyone will benefit, and it will create a lot of buzz in your community.

Workplace Injury: How to Be Prepared

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Your boss asks you to help move a few boxes. Before you even think about it, you bend over at the waist to pick up the load and feel a severe stabbing pain in your back that takes your breath away. You slowly stand up straight, but all you see are stars circling your head like in the cartoons. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-often occurrence in many offices across the country, and it can affect the work performance of any employee. You might not even realize that this is a workplace injury and you have the right to healthcare and possibly compensation if this would ever happen to you. 

 

Many people think that workplace injuries only happen at construction sites or in factories. However, many of the most common workplace injuries, such as sprains, strains, and lacerations can happen just about anywhere. Here are the essentials you need to know to keep yourself and your workplace safe. 

Understanding Workplace Injuries

According to the National Safety Council, one person is injured on the job every seven seconds in the U.S. That means that throughout one year, there are 4.5 million injuries. These injuries range from “treat and street” issues where you might be seen in a clinic or emergency room and then sent home to severe life-altering injuries and illnesses or even death. 

 

Injuries that occur the most frequently don’t cause severe damage; in fact, many of them don’t even cause visible problems. The top three workplace injuries that cause workers to miss days from work are those that include overexertion, such as lifting a box that’s too heavy, contact with an object or equipment, and slips, trips, and falls. Other common occurrences that can take you out of commission include poor body mechanics and environmental hazards such as wet floors or icy sidewalks.

Prevention is Key

While you don’t have to be an occupational health and safety specialist to spot an unsafe situation, working with one to create safety plans is never a bad idea. Since the top injuries are common occurrences, most of them can be prevented by following a few simple safety tips. Check out these three ways to keep yourself and coworkers safe at work:

Be Aware

Seeing and reporting trip hazards like cords across a walkway or a spill in the cafeteria doesn’t take any particular skill. If you notice anything in your office that might be a safety issue, fix it if you can. If it’s a more significant issue, such as clutter blocking a fire exit or an overflowing toilet, be sure to report it to your supervisor or internal safety committee, if you have one. 

Protect Your Back

Back injuries are common, and once you have an injury, your risk of re-injury increases three to five times. The good news about back injuries is that most of them are preventable. Use these lifting and back injury tips if you need to lift a box or other heavy object around the office:

 

  • Stretch before lifting heavy objects.
  • Make sure you’re wearing safe, closed-toe shoes with good traction when lifting.
  • Use a dolly or pushcart if carrying the object a long distance.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Divide large loads into smaller ones, if possible.
  • Carry the object as close to your body as you can. 

Reduce Workplace Stress

Let’s face it: work is stressful. When you start feeling burned out at work, you might struggle to concentrate or rush through tasks, both of which can increase your risk of injuries. 

 

If you need to decrease your stress levels at work, try at least one of these four strategies:

  • Choose healthy foods so that you get the nutrition you need. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, like nicotine.
  • Aim for eight hours of sleep every night.
  • Plan regular breaks throughout the workday and try to get the most important tasks done before lunch.
  • Live a happy life by adopting a few holistic ways to live, such as regular trips to the chiropractor or massage therapist and aromatherapy.

What to Do if You Get Hurt

Even if you do all of the right things to create balance in a world full of movement — sometimes accidents just happen. If you’re injured at work, you should always report the accident immediately. What might feel like a minor ache or pain today could make it difficult to get out of bed tomorrow. Many states only allow injuries to be reported within a specific time frame for you to receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer. This is why notifying your supervisor promptly is critical.

 

You might live in a state that requires accident reports be in writing. While some states allow reports to be verbal, it’s always best to write out what happened and turn it into your supervisor. Almost all employers are required by law to have workers compensation insurance. If your injury is significant and you have to miss work, be sure to talk to your employer about their worker’s compensation policy and seek legal counsel if they tell you that they don’t have one. 

 

If you’re hurt at work, any medical treatment you need should be covered by your employer’s policy. You might also be entitled to lost wages if you have to miss work for an extended period. However, every state is a bit different, so you’ll need to check with your employer to be certain. To make sure that you’re always covered regardless of the causes of an injury or illness, it’s a good idea to consider long-term or short-term disability insurance, too. 

Keeping Safe

Being hurt is never fun. However, by implementing these simple workplace safety tips and tricks in your office, you and your co-workers will be safe and prepared. And in the unfortunate event that you are injured at work, know that you have options to ensure that the company you work will cover you. 

How to Fast Forward your Employee’s Career

Your employees’ professional growth doesn’t happen overnight. Developing people’s skills needs investment of thought, time and love in order to create meaningful change. Ideally a manager becomes a mentor. They provide guidance and coaching to evolve employee skill-sets, knowledge and confidence. With managers acting as the catalyst for progression, we’ve pinpointed five ways to effectively advance your employee’s career path.

Align your business goals

When you’re working closely with your employees, don’t forget to feed back the “bigger picture” to them. You can coach people in leadership qualities all day long but it’s pointless if you’re not communicating why. Employees motivation to excel can diminish if they don’t feel valued or believe they can create an impact for the company. Realistically, how empowered would your employees feel if they’re given the freedom to make smart, informed decisions however they still need to run their ideas by you before making moves? Communicate the objectives and company goals before anything else, and provide freedom for them to actually reach these.

Create a career development plan

Having conversations around career progressions is the first step in gauging employee development, but it’s important to follow up with implementing achievable objectives. This encourages employees to formulate their goals so they can actively execute them. Create a space where you can collaborate openly on short-term and long-term career goals and most importantly how these can be achieved. If you’re not sure where role progression can evolve, check out Search Party’s Career Path Tool to see all possible options.

Articulate expectations

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a popular technique to setting and communicating goals and results in organisations. The main purpose for OKRs is to connect the company, team and individual’s personal objectives to measurable results, ensuring everyone is moving in the right direction. The structure is fairly straightforward.

  • Define 3-5 key objectives on company, team or personal levels. These must be qualitative, ambitious and time bound.
  • Under each objective, define 3-4 measurable results based on growth performance, revenue or engagement.

When OKRs are a place and remain transparent across all teams, employees have complete clarity of knowing what’s expected of them and have something to work towards. Defining these can take into account career progressions or onboarding new responsibilities or projects and when you’re able to measure you’re also able to mentor. No wonder OKR’s are loved by tech giants like Google, Twitter, and Oracle. It’s a proven process that genuinely works.

Actively identify new opportunities within the organisation

When employees begin to seek new experiences or want to build their portfolio of skill-sets, 9 times out of 10 they’ll leave their current organisation rather than take on a new role in a different area within their current company. And it’s no surprise that losing talent and re-training new starters is timely and costly for managers. However this behaviour can be avoided if there is real encouragement and facilitation of internal transfers. Speak with the individual about what skills they would like to gain or areas they wish to excel in and then identify all possible new opportunities and paths they can explore within the organisation. Mentors are those who can look beyond their own areas or personal needs for growth opportunities, even if it means they’re losing a great asset.

Encourage developmental assignments

Developmental assignments come from the opportunity to initiate something new that an employee takes the majority of the reigns with. Internal projects, new product lines or championing a change such as adopting new technology or a restructure in workflows are all great ways to allow employees to step outside of their comfort zones. These kind of initiatives are the gateway into harbouring new skill-sets and embracing areas not usual to their daily tasks. Enabling employees to lead or manage side projects or totally new initiatives are the stepping stones into project management fields and opens a huge number of doors into other leadership roles.

Although most CEOs understand the importance of employee development, the sad truth is that they don’t devote the necessary time into excelling them into greater things. But the proof really is in the pudding. The more effort you put into developing employees, the higher the employee retention, productivity, engagement, turnover…the list goes on!

If you’re unsure as to where career progression can take you or your employees, Search Party have developed a nifty Career Path Tool. Simply type in your current role, and see how careers of people who’ve been in your shoes developed. Or, type in your dream job and see which paths can take you there. Check it out and let us know what you think!


Originally published by Search Party on 29 August 2016.

How HR Can Help During Tax Season

While HR is generally seen as being associated more closely with payroll than taxes, there is a huge overlap between the two. This means that at some point any given business will end up relying on its HR team to help in ensuring that its taxes are filed and paid appropriately. HR professionals can provide invaluable help with both employer and employee tax filing if they educate themselves, stay organized, and keep up to date on the ever-changing tax code.

Both Employers And Employees Rely On HR During Tax Season

Though HR professionals are by no means tax experts, their role within a business often leads to tax questions from both employers and employees. A well-trained HR team will be able to address questions from both with ease, whether they are related to personal or business taxes. HR departments are the main conduit of communication between organizations and employees, and it is important that they be able to help either when it comes to tax preparation.

The tax code changes relatively regularly, so it is to be expected that employees may have questions that go beyond how to appropriately fill out a W-4. For example, many employers encourage their employees to open health savings accounts, and employees who do might find themselves wondering what contributions to their HSA are deductible or what the limit for annual contributions might be. HR staff should be prepared to assist with these questions as it will ultimately help both the employee and the organization.

Assisting your employer with proper filing and helping employees with any questions they might have is important as an HR professional, however, there are limits to what can be done. HR teams can give as much advice to employees as they like regarding how to fill tax forms like a W-4, but filling one out for an employee is illegal. Understanding the limitations of how much an HR department can and cannot do helps to maximize efficiency while reducing any legal risk to the organization.

Organization Is Key

When HR teams assist a business with the proper filing of taxes, it is of utmost importance that they maintain a high level of organization. Keeping an accurate record of tax records through digitally scanning them and avoiding using easily lost physical documents is essential. Additionally, keeping a detailed log of business expenditures within the HR department and any documentation that might prove useful when filing taxes should be a priority.

Timekeeping is also incredibly important for HR professionals. Keeping track of nonexempt employees’ hours worked is essential in order to remain compliant with both national and state tax authorities. Doing so will prevent headaches in the long run and make the job of filing appropriately that much easier.

The ability for HR professionals to keep tax-relevant documentation organized is increasing rapidly. This is due largely in part to the rise of advances in cloud storage and big data. These new and powerful technologies allow HR professionals to not only execute their daily operations more efficiently but to keep important information like tax documentation organized and readily available as well. Despite the ease of the cloud for storage, however, it’s imperative that HR professionals understand how to make and keep backups of all important data as well, in case of emergency.

Keeping Up With The IRS

The IRS processes around 240 million tax returns every year generating nearly $3 trillion in tax revenue. While this is impressive, the IRS relies on both private citizens and companies alike to file their taxes promptly and appropriately in order to avoid having to perform an audit if there are any discrepancies detected. Avoiding an audit is obviously preferred for any organization, so ensuring that all levels of an organization, including the HR department, are well versed in recent changes to tax code is a good idea.

The United States tax code recently saw its most substantial reform in over 30 years in the form of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The changes made to the tax code by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act have far-reaching implications for both employees and the organizations that employ them and because of this, it is imperative that HR professionals understand how the changes to the tax code affect their business. 

Payroll systems had to change across the board after this legislation passed as it affected individual income tax rates and brackets. Additionally, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the ability to deduct the expenses from popular employer-provided fringe benefits such as deductions for parking and transportation expenses for employees. 

In an era where transparency is increasingly appreciated by employees, especially when it comes to salary and payroll, it is important for HR professionals to be able to explain these changes if questions arise. While there is no certainty what future tax code reforms might hold for employees and organizations, HR professionals would be wise to remain up to date on any changes that might affect them.

HR teams are some of the most important and unsung aspects of any business or company, and the ability to assist both employers and employees with tax filing questions adds yet another notch to an already impressive list of skills. If HR professionals stay on top of keeping the appropriate documentation organized and accessible and stay on top of any changes to the U.S. tax code, they will be more than equipped to answer nearly any question asked of them.