HR Management Trends Continue

Business trends come and go, but they impact our daily work lives. When it comes to HR management, evolving technology and a shift in workforce needs will continue to shape the trends. 

As small business seek ways to operate more effectively, let’s examine four of the key trends the human capital management experts say will continue.

1. Flexible work schedules on the rise

“Flexible work arrangements” is a term you’ll continue to hear. One reason: Millennials now make up the largest generational share of the workforce, and work-life flexibility is a priority for this demographic.

More than half — 52% — of HR professionals say their companies currently offer flexible work arrangements to at least some employees, according to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey. Even more interesting, SHRM members reported that retention improved when companies simply announced they were launching flexible work arrangements — that’s how much workers want this.

Some experts predict that employers who offer flexible work schedules will see gains in recruitment and morale, as well as a reduction in turnover.

Of course, not all companies are in a position to offer flexible work schedules. But for companies managing aggressive recruiting and retention goals, it’s certainly food for thought.

2. A growing remote workforce

Eighty to ninety percent of the American workforce would like to work remotely at least part time, according to a study by Global Workplace Analytics. No wonder telecommuting has increased by 115% in the last decade!

Employees who telecommute report higher morale, lower absenteeism and greater willingness to work overtime. It’s good for the environment, too — no commuting.

And contrary to what you might think, multiple studies indicate that remote workers demonstrate greater productivity, while saving employers on office space. (For example, American Express reports saving $10 to $15 million per year in real estate costs because of its telecommuting program.)

However, many executives remain uncomfortable with the idea, and not all jobs or industries lend themselves to telecommuting. But the demand isn’t likely to go away. If talent acquisition is key to your company’s growth strategy, offering a remote work option — even part-time — could be a smart move.

3. Social recruiting on the move 

Eighty-five percent of companies use social media as a recruiting vehicle. It’s so pervasive, it even has its own name now: social recruiting. While LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook remain the big three, where will it go from here?

We will see more companies leverage mobile recruiting platforms. According to Pew Research Center, 28% of all Americans (and 53% of 18 to 29-year-olds) use their smartphones for job hunting. Half of them have completed a job application using their phones. If your company’s hiring platform isn’t mobile friendly, you’re missing out.

In addition, employers may be turning to professional/association social networking sites to recruit this year. It’s a more targeted way to hone in on experienced applicants and reach passive job candidates. Why not give it a try?

4. Using technology for HR program management

We continue to see vast advances in HR technology in every area, from time and attendance systems and benefits administration to recruiting and performance management programs.

According to Sierra-Cedar’s 2017-2018 HR Systems Survey, 50% of companies have purchased a cloud-based HR application. The migration to the cloud continues.

In addition, you can expect to hear about:

  • The adoption of continuous performance management systems. For years, employers have been moving away from an annual review process and toward an ongoing performance management process. Look for human capital management systems that actively support such year-round activities.
  • Using granular analytics to refine HR processes. While companies have been demanding HR analytics for a while, many organizations are still figuring out how to best put them to use. From recruiting metrics that allow employers to shorten the hiring process to time and attendance data that pinpoints field management issues, employers will dig in to HR analytics in increasingly meaningful ways.
  • Increased use of mobile time tracking apps. According to the Sierra-Cedar study, there’s been a 50% increase in mobile time tracking over last year. This tracks with the other trends discussed above. Employees are using their phone for more job-related activities. Employers are becoming more flexible in terms of where and when employees work. It only makes sense that HR systems like time and attendance software are able to follow along.
Need to attract millennials? Offer student loan benefits!

If you want to attract and retain millennials, it’s all about the benefits. And no perks are more sought after among this group than student loan benefits.

Ten years ago, millennials flocked to employers offering free snacks and ping-pong tables, but as this demographic matures, they seek more meaningful benefits from their company with long-term results. Similarly, growing companies have a hyper-sensitive need to appeal to the millennial group because they will soon make up a clear majority of the workforce.

Focused on their financial futures

We talk to our client’s millennial staff all the time about their needs. My team also talks to our clients, most of which are millennials, every day about how important their financial future is to them.

What we’ve learned is that most millennials have lofty goals, and if a company can help them achieve those goals by supporting their financial future beyond just an income, they have a strong chance of attracting top-performing talent. Millennials also focus on values, so if a company can demonstrate how they support and reflect their employees’ values – financial and otherwise – that goes a long way.

Student loan debt is considered an epidemic in our country and is a major obstacle to the financial independence and goals that millennials seek.  Those with student loans are constantly looking for ways to contribute savings to their payments – from more practical strategies like refinancing or taking on a “side hustle,” to extremes like selling their eggs or participating in medical trials.

Enlightened companies are beginning to recognize how student loan repayment programs can benefit their employees by enabling financial independence, which naturally creates a more positive outlook on their professional and personal life. According to a recent study we conducted with LendEdu, we found that 58% of millennials would prefer student loan refinancing benefits from employers over additional vacation days – pretty powerful! This shows, plain and simple, how millennials are looking for benefits and employers that support their financial well-being.

Offering a student debt repayment benefit reinforces that employers care about the same things their employees do, establishing trust and demonstrating how the company and staff have the same values. It also helps to boost employee morale and satisfaction, and a satisfied workforce is one that’s likely more productive, committed to their team’s success and loyal to their company.

Employers as advocates

On the recruitment side, this benefit allows employers to attract top-performing millennials who seek employers that advocate for their financial health. Companies that are first to introduce this benefit are shaping their brand perception as one that’s invested not only in the financial health of their employees, but in doing good for people facing an extreme burden.

In a time where job switching has become more common – and where 50% of millennials carry student loan debt – student loan refinancing benefits can help encourage employees to stick around for the long-haul. This benefit establishes trust and demonstrates that employers care deeply about the financial future and overall well-being of their staff, which, for millennials, is far more appealing than most “work perks.”

 

 

30 employee handbook do’s and don’ts from the NLRB

To help employers craft handbooks that don’t violate the National Labor Relations Act, the National Labor Relations Board has issued a compilation of rules it has found to be illegal — and rewritten them to illustrate how they can comply with the law.

It was issued as a memorandum by NLRB General Counsel Richard F. Griffin, Jr. to “help employers to review their handbooks and other rules, and conform them, if necessary, to ensure they are lawful.”

Specifically, the memorandum points out employer policies found to violate and conform to Section 7 of the NLRA.

The main area of concern

Section 7 mandates that employees be allowed to participate in “concerted activity” to help improve the terms and conditions of their work.

The NLRB has made it abundantly clear recently that it’s on the lookout for rules that:

  • explicitly restrict protected concerted activity, and/or
  • could be construed to restrict protected Section 7 activity.

One thing the memorandum makes very clear: extremely subtle variations in language could be the difference between having a legal policy in the NLRB’s eyes and having one that’s viewed as violating the NLRA.

What to say, what not to say

Here are many of the dos and don’ts highlighted by the memorandum, separated by topic:

Rules regarding confidentiality

  • Illegal: “Do not discuss ‘customer or employee information’ outside of work, including ‘phone numbers [and] addresses.’” The NLRB said, in addition to the overbroad reference to “employee information,” the blanket ban on discussing employee contact info, without regard for how employees obtain that info, is facially illegal.
  • Illegal: “Never publish or disclose [the Employer’s] or another’s confidential or other proprietary information. Never publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to [the Employer].” The NLRB said a broad reference to “another’s” information, without clarification, would reasonably be interpreted to include other employees’ wages and other terms and conditions of employment.
  • Illegal: Prohibiting employees from “disclosing … details about the [Employer].” The NLRB said this is a broad restriction that failed to clarify that it doesn’t restrict Section 7 activity.
  • Legal: “No unauthorized disclosure of ‘business “secrets” or other confidential information.’”
  • Legal: “Misuse or unauthorized disclosure of confidential information not otherwise available to persons or firms outside [Employer] is cause for disciplinary action, including termination.”
  • Legal: “Do not disclose confidential financial data, or other non-public proprietary company information. Do not share confidential information regarding business partners, vendors or customers.”

The NLRB said the last three rules above were legal because: “1) they do not reference information regarding employees or employee terms and conditions of employment, 2) although they use the general term “confidential,” they do not define it in an overbroad manner, and 3) they do not otherwise contain language that would reasonably be construed to prohibit Section 7 communications.”

Rules regarding conduct toward the company and supervisors

  • Illegal: “Be respectful to the company, other employees, customers, partners, and competitors.”
  • Illegal: “Do ‘not make fun of, denigrate, or defame your co-workers, customers, franchisees, suppliers, the Company, or our competitors.’”
  • Illegal: “Be respectful of others and the Company.”
  • Illegal: “No defamatory, libelous, slanderous or discriminatory comments about [the Company], its customers and/or competitors, its employees or management.’”

The NLRB said the rules above were unlawfully overbroad because: “employees reasonably would construe them to ban protected criticism or protests regarding their supervisors, management, or the employer in general.”

  • Illegal: “Disrespectful conduct or insubordination, including, but not limited to, refusing to follow orders from a supervisor or a designated representative.”
  • Illegal: “‘Chronic resistance to proper work-related orders or discipline, even though not overt insubordination’ will result in discipline.”

The NLRB said the rules above, while banning “insubordination,” also ban “conduct that does not rise to the level of insubordination, which reasonably would be understood as including protected concerted activity.”

  • Illegal: “Refrain from any action that would harm persons or property or cause damage to the Company’s business or reputation.”
  • Illegal: “It is important that employees practice caution and discretion when posting content [on social media] that could affect [the Employer’s] business operation or reputation.”
  • Illegal: “Do not make ‘statements “that damage the company or the company’s reputation or that disrupt or damage the company’s business relationships.”‘”
  • Illegal: “Never engage in behavior that would undermine the reputation of [the Employer], your peers or yourself.”

The NLRB said the rules above “were unlawfully overbroad because they reasonably would be read to require employees to refrain from criticizing the employer in public.

  • Legal: “No ‘rudeness or unprofessional behavior toward a customer, or anyone in contact with’ the company.”
  • Legal: “Employees will not be discourteous or disrespectful to a customer or any member of the public while in the course and scope of [company] business.”

The NLRB said the rules above are legal because they wouldn’t lead an employee to believe they restrict criticism of the company.

  • Legal: “Each employee is expected to work in a cooperative manner with management/supervision, coworkers, customers and vendors.” The NLRB says employees would reasonably understand that this states the employer’s legitimate expectation that employees work together in an atmosphere of civility.
  • Legal: “Each employee is expected to abide by Company policies and to cooperate fully in any investigation that the Company may undertake.” The NLRB said this rule is legal because “employees would reasonably interpret it to apply to employer investigations of workplace misconduct rather than investigations of unfair labor practices or preparations for arbitration.”
  • Legal: “‘Being insubordinate, threatening, intimidating, disrespectful or assaulting a manager/supervisor, coworker, customer or vendor will result in’ discipline.” The NLRB said: “Although a ban on being  disrespectful’ to management, by itself, would ordinarily be found to unlawfully chill Section 7 criticism of the employer, the term here is contained in a larger provision that is clearly focused on serious misconduct, like insubordination, threats, and assault. Viewed in that context, we concluded that employees would not reasonably believe this rule to ban protected criticism.”

Rules regarding conduct between employees

  • Illegal: “‘Don’t pick fights’ online.”
  • Illegal: “Do not make ‘insulting, embarrassing, hurtful or abusive comments about other company employees online,’ and ‘avoid the use of offensive, derogatory, or prejudicial comments.’”
  • Illegal: “Show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory, such as politics and religion.”
  • Illegal: “Do not send ‘unwanted, offensive, or inappropriate’ e-mails.”

The NLRB said the rules above were unlawfully overbroad because employees would reasonably construe them to restrict protected discussions with their co-workers.

  • Legal: “[No] ‘Making inappropriate gestures, including visual staring.’”
  • Legal: “Any logos or graphics worn by employees ‘must not reflect any form of violent, discriminatory, abusive, offensive, demeaning, or otherwise unprofessional message.’”
  • Legal: “[No] ‘Threatening, intimidating, coercing, or otherwise interfering with the job performance of fellow employees or visitors.’”
  • Legal: “No ‘harassment of employees, patients or facility visitors.’”
  • Legal: “No ‘use of racial slurs, derogatory comments, or insults.’”

The NLRB said the rules above were legal because: “when an employer’s professionalism rule simply requires employees to be respectful to customers or competitors, or directs employees not to engage in unprofessional conduct, and does not mention the company or its management, employees would not reasonably believe that such a rule prohibits Section 7-protected criticism of the company.

How Offering Professional Development Opportunities to Employees Helps Your Small Business

Continuing education platforms are a great way to develop employee skills, boost morale and improve recruitment efforts.

Employers are often on the hunt for job benefits that they can add at a low cost to improve recruitment efforts and boost employee morale. When these benefits also positively impact productivity, they’re a win-win for worker and employer.

No benefit does a better job at checking all these boxes than professional development opportunities for your employees. These include things like online learning platforms, paid junkets to seminars and workshops, and even employer-sponsored schooling. Educational opportunities allow employees to grow their skills and pursue their professional goals, while also integrating what they’ve learned into their day-to-day responsibilities in the workplace.

What are some popular professional development benefits?

Professional development opportunities come in many shapes and sizes. They include online learning, workplace-hosted events, offsite seminars and workshops, and membership in professional organizations. Professional development can also include employer support for schooling costs in some cases.

Today’s employees are unmistakably anxious to learn and get new skills, and the appropriation of innovation to empower employees’ learning enables associations to lift worker bliss while enhancing their capacity to hold ability.

Many employers also offer access to online learning platforms, such as Lynda or Degreed. These platforms allow employees to guide their own learning with preset pathways, as well as for managers to create their own pathways that could help employees grow in their organizational roles. They also include reward or gamification opportunities to further incentivize learning.

According to the 2017 Employee Benefits Report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the most common types of educational and professional development opportunities employers offer include professional organization memberships, offsite events, and workplace training or courses.

Another common professional development benefit is tuition reimbursement. A survey of 2,000 employees conducted by Better Buys found that 53 percent of respondents had access to tuition reimbursement programs sponsored by their employer. Employers can obtain a tax write-off for up to $5,250 of educational assistance benefits every year.

Regardless of how you plan to make continued education a part of your business growth, you need to do it. Investing in your employees is one of the best ways to show you care about them personally.

How does professional development benefit employers?

There are three major ways professional development opportunities come back to employers. Professional development benefits help employers recruit new talent, retain their existing employees, and cultivate skills that will be used for the benefit of the company.

Whether an employee stays for decades or not, offering continuing education is still worth it.  It is a nice perk for recruiting that shows the company cares about the employee’s growth, and even if the employee is only there for a couple of years, it’s better to have more highly skilled employees for the same price.

According to SHRM’s report, 48 percent of HR professionals cited training and education programs as the most effective recruiting tool at their disposal.

The Better Buys survey found that 78 percent of respondents currently have access to professional development, while 92 percent of respondents believe access is important or very important. According to the survey results, employees with access to professional development opportunities are 15 percent more engaged in their jobs, which led to a 34 percent higher retention rate. This means those employees are not only more productive day to day, but less likely to leave their positions, which saves employers an average turnover cost of 6-9 months of an employee’s salary.

Hiring is expensive and time-consuming.  It is often easier and cheaper to retain your own talent, or hire from within. Training or up-skilling employees opens an additional talent pool for the employer that they already had.

Professional development is a clear benefit to employees who want to improve their skills and value in the marketplace. It can help them earn a promotion internally or continue pursuing their career goals elsewhere, as their marketability to employers increases. However, it is also a boon for employers, who reap the benefits of a more skilled, satisfied workforce and an attractive tool for drawing in new, intrinsically motivated employees. Employer-sponsored professional development opportunities are the definition of a win-win.

Does your business struggle to provide incentives to millennials, Gen Zers?
  • Employers say they’re struggling to attract and retain millennial and Gen Z workers, in part because they can’t provide the incentives they believe these demographics want. More than 1,000 senior-level HR professionals responded to a survey by Allegis on the state of millennials and Gen Z in the workforce, and almost half voiced this concern. Most say they believe this failure will negatively impact their company by slowing growth, reducing productivity and increasing hiring costs.
  • What’s keeping them from enticing these generations into the fold? More than 70% believe outmoded work practices, sketchy career paths and limits on advancement, development and mentoring are impacting attrition. Flexible work schedules, wellness programs, fast-track promotions and other perks were identified by 69% of respondents as problematic.
  • Millennials, the study suggests, are looking for more than salary and benefits; diversity and inclusion rank high on their employment wishlist, as does strong corporate social responsibility (CSR). Yet only 12% of businesses believe their D&I programs help attract talent, and only 13% believe CSR does.

AZ HR Hub Insight:

Millennials, the generation that will dominate the workforce at an estimated 75% representation by 2025, comprise 35% of workers in the U.S. today. To attract and retain this demographic, employers may have to do some serious surveying and listening.

Priorities may vary from workplace to workplace, and generational stereotypes can create problems. PwC, for example, saw that its millennials were clamoring for flexibility and leaving when they didn’t get it. It conducted a survey and, naturally, found that “millennials want more flexibility, the opportunity to shift hours — to start their work days later, for example, or put in time at night, if necessary. But so do non-millennials, in equal numbers.”

Allegis’ findings about diversity and CSR may well apply to other generations as well. Studies have found that diverse teams are more innovative, and employer branding — including a persona as a good corporate citizen — can go a long way with employees of all generations.

4 Hiring Challenges Facing Small Business Owners

Hiring professional talent in today’s market can be extremely difficult. Find out why it can be so tough for companies, while also learning how to deal with the stress of finding the right candidates.

For many small business owners, the last few years have been the best of times. As the economy has grown, their businesses have grown. New clients have appeared, and existing clients have increased orders. Growth is exciting.

As companies grow, however, they often need to hire new people for positions that did not previously exist. Suddenly, a function needs to be professionalized. Ten years ago a company could promote a warehouse worker to a shipping supervisor role, but after years of expansion, the business needs a supply chain manager to handle the more complex relationships that stem from a growing company. A decade ago, an office manager could double as a personnel manager at a 25-employee company. With 120 staff members today, that same firm needs at least a professional HR manager, if not a director.

Unless properly managed, these hiring projects could lead to the worst of times. For a business owner, hiring professional talent in today’s market can be problematic. Here are a few reasons why hiring can cause a headache for small businesses, and how to help your business stand out in the hiring process.

It’s a tight market

With a 4 percent unemployment rate, there is a limited pool of unemployed job candidates. Your ideal hire might be working somewhere else and needs a reason to quit their job and work for you. When a promising talent is not looking for work, they need to be identified and attracted to your company.

Employers have built stronger cultures

Since the last recession, most companies, large and small, have improved their culture and business. In 2008, a candidate might have been eager to escape a horrible boss or bad culture. Thankfully, there are fewer of both now, but relying on another company to be worse than yours is a bad strategy.

The skills you want reside in larger firms

In the past, small companies could attract talent from larger firms by emphasizing work flexibility and a family atmosphere. Over the years, most large companies have invested a fortune in work-life balance alternatives, as well as other bells and whistles. Don’t expect a candidate to take a pay cut to work at a smaller firm just because you won’t make them use a vacation day for a child’s doctor visit. Realistically, is that worth $10,000 less in salary and a cut in a 401(k) match?

Candidates have options

The traditional mindset is that a candidate applies for a job – basically asking an employer to consider them. In reality, the balance of power has now shifted. Employers ask the candidate to join them. Many small companies let their egos get in the way of this newfound practice. They think the candidate needs to show they want the job and make some type of sacrifice. This is a self-defeating philosophy, especially when a candidate is considering multiple employers. The choice is not between a candidate’s existing employer and your company. It is between the existing employer and any of two, three or five companies that will appear over the next few months. In a good economy, everyone grows. Other companies have grown and need the same skilled candidates as you.

The solution

The first thing you need to do is create a clear message for attracting talented candidates. If your team can’t answer the question, “Why should I quit my job and work for you?” then you need to revisit your message and, potentially, your team members. The answer can’t be “because we are nice people.” It needs to be a clearly defined message.

The second step is determining the type of person you want to hire. Attributes like experience level, current job and the type of company or industry someone is currently working in should all be analyzed and considered. Select and define the factors most important to your business. Identify your market, and then figure out a way to get that message to your market. Ads, recruitment firms and aggressive referral programs are all useful tools.

Lastly, have an employment process that is candidate friendly. Don’t make a candidate leave work in the middle of the day for a half-hour screening interview. Don’t have an interviewer who thinks it is their job to ask questions but not answer them. Engage with the candidate. If you don’t do that with them now, they will project that behavior onto themselves as a potential employee and stop the hiring process before it ever really gets started.

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