Difficult Downsizing Decisions

As we are all well aware, many companies are in the process of reorganizing their talent pool. Of course, with the Coronavirus how to do this is top of mind.  No matter what causes downsizing, resizing, or “right-sizing” leaders must carefully evaluate their workers to determine who to keep, who to furlough, and who to downright terminate. 

How is this done?  How do you decide?  There are some key questions to ask yourself when making these determinations:  Who is already causing concerns or issues? Will seniority alone be a consideration?

These questions are important to consider.  On top of these, however, is the diagnosing each person’s competency for performing each of their work tasks.  One of the best ways to do this is using Blanchard’s SLII®.  This is a model for determining competency and confidence to perform a specific task.  When the analysis is done for each person’s responsibilities, you will have a great picture of their value to your organization. 

For example, you have an employee that has been around for about six months that is not great at cold calling yet, but really brings in the sales when they get a lead.  They are learning about cold calling and they are very enthusiastic.  Would you keep them?  I would.  They are exhibiting the behaviors of a good salesperson as demonstrated by their sales lead calls.  With more time and training they most likely will be able to transfer their skills and to do better at cold calling. 

In another scenario, you have someone that is not doing very well at sales calls and they do not show motivation or enthusiasm for the work.  You’ve coached them and provided training for the past several months.  Would you keep them?  No. If I’m downsizing and both the competence and motivation is lacking, I would not consider them as a viable long-term employee. 

When you evaluate each person’s task – not the person as a whole, you will have more data to help you make very difficult decisions about downsizing.  When you list each person’s responsibilities and rate them on both competence and confidence to achieve the task you will get a list of gaps in your workforce.  It will also help you to determine training, coaching, and other interventions.  Lastly, it will help you with succession planning.  We’ll talk about that in  my next article.  

I have provided very basic examples, and you may have many other considerations when reorganizing.  I’d love to hear what your processes are.  Please share!

Now is not the time to sweat the Small Stuff

Now that our pace has slowed down during this virus period, our minds can begin to wander and our thoughts can quickly turn to hyper focus on the trivialities that make up our routines and affect our normal pace. I believe this period of isolation should help to put these thoughts into perspective and allow us to devote the resources of our minds to the big stuff.

Issues that were seemingly big suddenly become much more trivial when our concentrations turn to the status of the world economy or the health of a loved one during this pandemic or the lack of such a basic need as toilet paper. What was a “big” issue just isn’t so important anymore.

We can all learn from this time period – to be more receptive and put things into perspective. Putting our concerns and issues under bigger lenses and choosing to look at things from a different perspective increases our mental capacities and provides us some control. Ask yourself, “Will this matter to me next month or next year or in five years?” “Is this something within my control or should I move on instead?”

We all have the ability to control our basic mind set. Looking for a silver lining now can have a profound impact on attitudes, moods, and behaviors. In any given circumstance, asking simple questions can ease the burdens we put on ourselves.  Examples during this pandemic: “Do I really need to go out to dinner or can I just be happy that my family is together during this time around our own dinner table?” “Is it really so bad to have canceled our vacation? Look at all the money we’re saving!” A simple change in perspective changes everything.

Written by guest blogger, Tina Garner

The Best Managers Expect Change Then Embrace It

Change is inevitable. It can be driven by internal factors such as a merger or an acquisition to grow the business. Or, it can begin with the resignation of a key leader, or the hiring of someone new to the organization. Change can also be driven by external factors such as the addition of a new product, a new regulation requirement. Or, it can begin with the introduction of another competitor to the market.

Because we all know change is inevitable, managers can drive future success in their departments by fostering a positive attitude toward change. 

How?

By being fully aware of the need for the change and the direction the organization is headed.

  • An aware manager can better articulate to employees where the company is now and where leadership sees it in the future. 
  • Managers should also be able to articulate why the company needs to change, relative to things like shifting market forces, new opportunities, financial issues, or a new strategic approach.

By anticipating it and purposefully planning for change. 

  • Employees work better with concrete, achievable goals.
  • A manager can help employees see the roles they play in achieving the new goals and what it will mean for them, their coworkers, their unit, and the organization once the goals are achieved.

By eliminating fear of change. Address change in an intentional, goal-oriented manner. 

  • A manager should recognize and describe change as something that people should do, not something that is done to them.
  • Encourage risk taking and opinion sharing. The most important thing to help employees adapt to change is to create trust. One way this can be accomplished is by creating an environment in which people will not face consequences for trying something new and questioning established processes.

By encouraging inclusion in the process. A manager will make employees more comfortable with change when they invite them to participate in planning for or implementing it because they gain some sense of control which reduces their fears.

  • Hold all hands meetings where you allow employees to submit questions and receive answers from senior level leaders.
  • Adopt a continuous feedback tool where employees can give feedback directly to leaders directly involved in the implementation of a change.
     

Blog written by:

Tina Garner, PHR, SHRM-CP

Human Resources Director, RideNow Powersports

Causes of Employee Turnover

Turnover is influenced by many factors that generally come from two directions: external forces and internal forces. We have a bigger impact focusing on internal forces within the company’s control.

We’ll start with external forces, though, because it helps to be aware of how much they contribute to fluctuations so that you can make effective decisions about retention. It also helps assess how important turnover is to your company when you see how you stack up against your competitors.

watching-the-clock

Average turnover rate

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey is based on a monthly survey of approximately 16,000 U.S. businesses. They report the average total turnover rate around 3.5% with voluntary turnover around 2% monthly.

As unemployment rates have declined over the past decade, the U.S. has gone from over six unemployed people per job opening in 2009 to less than one in 2019. That means employees have more options.

When there is more confidence in the economy and lower unemployment, voluntary turnover tends to rise and involuntary turnover tends to fall.

Mercer’s annual survey of 150 organizations in the US reported voluntary turnover at 16% in 2018 – lower than the 26.9% that the federal government reported, which may be a reflection on the types of organizations that participate in Mercer’s more in-depth study.

Overall, turnover does not vary greatly based on organizational size, although larger organizations can have slightly lower rates. And smaller organizations tend to feel more of an impact when someone quits.

Geographically speaking, the South tends to have the highest quit rates while the Northeast has the lowest in the US.

The biggest variances by far, though, are seen between industries. Hospitality and retail have the highest turnover rates while manufacturing and finance have among the lowest in the private sector.

Industry5-Year Average 
Voluntary Turnover
Hospitality51%
Retail35%
Professional Services34%
Leisure34%
Construction24%
Transportation21%
Real Estate21%
Healthcare21%
Information18%
Manufacturing15%
Education15%
Finance14%
Government9%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014-2018 

When LinkedIn analyzed their half-a-billion users, they found 11% indicated they left a company in 2017. This turnover rate is likely lower than the government and Mercer reports because of the types of professionals that use the platform and the dependence on an individual updating their profile.

Still, LinkedIn showed how turnover reflects current industry trends. Retail is a high turnover industry and now software is too. However, tech employees usually move to another tech company while retail employees often move to a new industry, likely due to the rise of online shopping.

When LinkedIn ranked job functions, those with the highest turnover (17%) were marketing and research, followed by media and communication, HR, and support functions (15%). Sales, engineering, and operations also have above average turnover (13%), likely a reflection of high demand for their skills. Meanwhile business development has the highest retention (6%).

While turnover trends are valuable, insights into your industry and overall economy are likely enough to anticipate when you need to invest more in recruitment and retention. Besides, long-term investment in retention is the most effective approach regardless of fluctuations in the market.

And while it can be helpful to benchmark externally based on industry, function, and region, the most important benchmark is internally based on department, job level, location, and other segments of your organization over time. So let’s now look inward.

Key drivers

Certain aspects of employee experience tend to be the biggest drivers of turnover (why employees leave) and retention (why employees stay).

Work Institute reports that 77% of voluntary turnover is avoidable. They found the top reason for leaving is career development, followed by work-life balance and manager behavior. Compensation, job, and workplace were also common reasons.

Based on industry research, the key drivers are consistent:

  • Total rewards
  • Onboarding
  • Leadership
  • Learning and development
  • Growth and advancement
  • Wellness and work-life balance

Total rewards

Total rewards goes beyond base pay, bonuses, and compensation overall. It includes health benefits like insurance and financial benefits like retirement savings. For many companies, it also includes any gifts or bonuses received due to a recognition program.

In sum, total rewards encompasses all that an employer offers an employee in exchange for joining, contributing, and staying with the company.

Recognition

When we talk about total rewards, we should also keep in mind the power of recognition. At its core, employee recognition is the open acknowledgment and expressed appreciation for employees’ contributions to their organization.

When organizations decentralize employee recognition and empower their workers to engage in peer-to-peer and 360-degree recognition (that is, not solely top-down recognition), they increase the frequency with which employees can receive recognition and get a more nuanced understanding of what individuals, teams, and departments consider valuable.

Onboarding

Employees tend to be the most positive about their employer before their first day on the job. Onboarding is a way to build on that momentum, but it’s often a place where companies fall short.

A BambooHR survey found that 31% of employees have quit a job within the first six months and the top reason was a poor onboarding experience, which is generally defined as the first 90 days on the job.

Onboarding includes orientation to the workplace and the job, yet it’s so much more than that. This is the time to integrate the new employee into the team and culture: the core values underlying everyday behavior.

Leadership

We know how critical managers are to the employee experience. The immediate supervisor directly influences many key drivers of engagement and retention like development and recognition. If your manager doesn’t recognize your work, how can you trust them to support your career growth and success? 🤔

Senior leadership also plays an important role. Executivesmustclearly articulate the company’s vision and values. They’re responsible for the that makes people feel secure and that the work they do is meaningful.

Learning and development

When people think about job learning, they think training, and that’s certainly a key part, whether in-class workshops or bite-sized videos on-demand.

However, the majority of career development comes from on-the-job learning. It’s an organic way we share knowledge. Plus it’s often the most effective way to learn: in a real environment with a real task.

Employees want to strengthen their skill sets to do better in their job, career, and sometimes just for the challenge and stimulation that keeps coming to work every day interesting.

Growth and advancement

While learning and growth are highly related, we separated them because they can satisfy different needs and can be accomplished in different ways.

Nobody wants to feel stuck. No matter how much education you provide, many people are not satisfied unless they can move to progressively more challenging jobs. And simply changing someone’s title from junior to senior hardly makes them feel more confident and capable.

Wellness and work-life balance

We define wellness as a holistic way to look at employee health, that includes both physical and mental health.

Work-life balance is a way to support employee wellness, and an increasingly more common method is flexible work arrangements. Research from Owl Labs and TINYpulse showed companies that support remote work have 25% less turnover.

burnout

Now that you know the factors that cause turnover, what can you do to fix it? 

When Is It Time to Fire an Employee?

No one likes firing employees. It’s a difficult decision, but any HR manager or business owner will eventually have to make the choice to do what’s best for the company. While it’s important to give problem employees a chance to improve, there may eventually reach a point at which the only option is to let an employee go.

But how do you know when it’s time to fire an employee?

They Don’t Improve

If an employee isn’t meeting your expectations, it’s important to let them know. Provide feedback and training as needed and give the employee opportunities to correct their mistakes, whether they’re producing poor-quality work or behaving badly in the workplace. It’s when no improvement is made or when the employee has no interest in improving that you may consider firing as the next step.

They Bring Down Other Employees

When an employee’s behavior or lack of work ethic affects other employees, it’s a sign that it’s time to fire that employee. If one employee can bring down the morale of the entire office, department, or even company, and the behavior hasn’t improved, then it’s time for that employee to go. The other employees will thank you for it and will be happier, less stressed, and more productive for it.

They Affect Productivity

If a poorly-performing employee isn’t improving, despite corrections and opportunities to do so, that can affect the productivity of your other employees as well. If one employee fails to complete his or her part of a project or doesn’t provide needed information to coworkers in a timely fashion, the productivity of the entire office can fall. Ridding the company of the unproductive employee will give you the opportunity to replace him or her with someone who will do the job right.

They’re Often Late or Absent

If an employee is regularly late to or absent from work or takes extended breaks, that’s something that can’t be left unaddressed. Employees that are frequently absent are equally unreliable. Perhaps they call in sick too frequently or use up their allotted vacation time too early in the year. These are signs that the employee may have problems with attendance.

Your other employees will notice the behavior and at best, believe their coworker is unreliable. At worst, they may believe the company is tacitly encouraging such behavior by failing to correct it. This could cause productive and timely employees to lose productivity and morale and even consider moving to a company that didn’t allow such bad behavior.

How to Fire a Problem Employee

Once you’ve decided to fire an employee, it’s important to do it right. If your company has a policy on the number of opportunities to improve each employee gets before they’re let go, make sure you’ve followed that policy exactly. Once the employee has reached the requisite number of “strikes” and you don’t see any hope of improvement, make sure that you have thoroughly documented the problem behavior.

You may want to engage your HR person to assist in the process to help you avoid a wrongful termination lawsuit.

How to Prevent Employees from Faking Sick Days

Flu season is right around the corner, and with it, employees calling in sick. Not all of these call-ins will be real, however. Up to 40% of employees actually call in and pretend to be sick in order to get the day off. For some companies, this can affect productivity and the ability of the other employees to do their jobs properly.

While companies can make do for when employees are genuinely sick, it can feel like a slap in the face to discover later on social media that an employee was actually at a concert and not at home sick after all. Many employees who have faked a sick day have actually ended up fired as a result of the dishonesty.

But what can companies do to prevent their employees from faking sick days?

Require a Doctor’s Note

Some companies require sick employees to provide a doctor’s note before they allow the absence to be counted as a sick day. This does require employees to prove that they are really ill, but it has the opportunity to backfire, especially if the employee is sick with something run-of-the-mill that doesn’t actually require a trip to the doctor.

Getting a doctor’s note for something like a cold or the flu would require employees to make unnecessary trips to the doctor, increasing health care costs. On the other hand, if the employee chooses not to get the doctor’s note and instead comes into work sick, they could infect the rest of the office. Even mild illnesses like a cold can affect employee productivity and morale.

Check up on Employees

Some managers take the time to actually check in on employees who have called in sick, especially when they have noticed a pattern of supposed illness around holidays or weekends. Some employees who have faked sick will post about it on social media, making this job a lot easier. Others are smarter about faking sick, but a drive-by of their home or a call to their residence could prove they’re not actually sick.

The downside of this is that it wastes the manager’s time. Your company’s managers should have better things to do than driving past an employee’s house to make sure they are actually sick. Plus, this sort of policy could make employees who really are sick feel like they aren’t trusted and encourage employees to come into work when they are sick.

Examine Company Culture

It’s also worth the time to look at how your company culture views taking time off. Employees may feel pressured to make up an excuse to take a day off so that they’re not looked at as unproductive. Employees have earned their PTO days and have every right to take them, but in a company that frowns upon actually taking time off, they may feel that they have to lie about it.

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