Handling Payroll Issues

As HR consultants, we understand the challenges that can arise when payroll issues occur within an organization.

In March 2023, SVB bank experienced a collapse that impacted the payroll of many of its clients. This situation can be particularly stressful for employees depending on their paychecks. The concern about how to meet their financial obligations becomes all-consuming.

It is important for companies to be transparent and communicate effectively with their employees.

Here are some tips for handling payroll issues in your organization:

Communicate Openly and Frequently

When payroll issues arise, it is important to keep your employees informed of what is happening and what steps you are taking to resolve the issue. Be transparent about the timeline for resolution and provide updates regularly.

Provide Alternative Payment Options

In situations where payroll may be delayed, it is important to consider alternative payment options for employees. This could include advances on pay, loans, or other financial support.

Address Employee Concerns

Employees may have concerns and questions about their paychecks, and it is important to provide a forum for addressing these concerns. Consider setting up a dedicated email address or phone number for employees to reach out with questions or concerns.

Work with Your Payroll Provider

If you use a third-party payroll provider, work closely with them to identify the root cause of the issue and implement measures to prevent it from happening again.

Review your Payroll Processes

Take the opportunity to review your payroll processes and identify any areas where improvements can be made. This could include reviewing your payroll software, training staff, or improving communication between departments.

While payroll issues can be stressful and challenging, they can also provide an opportunity for companies to improve their processes and better support their employees. By being transparent, providing alternative payment options, addressing employee concerns, working with your payroll provider, and reviewing your processes, you can help ensure that your organization is well-equipped to handle any payroll challenges that arise.

Contact us today if you’d rather not deal with hassle of payroll and the issues that can come with it – we have a team of experts who are happy to help!

Book a FREE Consultation: https://calendly.com/linda-7921/15min or Eeail us at: linda@azhrhub.com

Interview Bias Impacting Hiring Decisions

Even the most seasoned of interviewers may fall victim to some common interviewing bias. Managers need proper training to conduct interviews that are non-discriminatory in nature and to avoid exposure to discrimination claims. In addition, awareness of these biases can make interviewers more effective in selecting the right candidate. Some forms of bias are described below.

  • Stereotyping. Stereotyping involves making generalized opinions about how people from a protected class such as sex, religion, age, race, etc. appear, think, act, feel or respond. For example, assuming a male would prefer being employed in a construction job over a teaching job.
  • Inconsistency. Some managers utilize different sets of questions to interview for the same job position amongst different individuals. For example, asking Hispanic candidates about their bilingual skills versus Caucasian applicants is not a recommended practice.
  • First Impression. First impressions can leave a lasting impression. Sometimes during the interview process, the interviewer takes the first thing he or she notices about the candidate and forms his/her opinion regarding the applicant on the first impression. This bias may benefit or harm the candidate’s chances of selection.
  • Halo/Horn Effect. If the interviewer finds one good trait, he or she will favor the candidate (halo). When the interviewer finds one negative trait, he or she will see that to be a disqualifier for the position (horn).
  • Contrast Effect. Contrast bias is present when candidates are compared against each other rather than evaluated based on the job requirements. The tendency is to base a candidate’s individual ranking on one’s position relative to others in the group. If the interview pool consists of a number of outstanding candidates, an average candidate will not be selected. But in a substandard pool, the average candidate may appear to be highly qualified.
  • “Similar to Me”. The “similar to me” effect occurs when the interviewer identifies with the candidate on a personal level, rather than evaluates the candidate on job-related criteria. For Example: The candidate attended the same university as the interviewer.
  • Cultural Noise. This occurs when the candidate’s responses are not factually based, but are socially acceptable answers. Basically, the applicant tells the interviewer what they think the interviewer would like to hear or will help secure the job.

Interview bias may occur intentionally or unintentionally. It is important to be aware of how biases may affect your decision-making when interviewing candidates. Keep biases at bay to ensure equality and effectiveness in the interview process.

 Managing Your Managers

As business owners, executives, and supervisors are all aware, managing employees is one of the hardest parts of running a business. You must balance their strengths and weaknesses, their personalities, and their skill sets, all while trying to earn and maintain their loyalty. And then, like a marching band conductor, you must bring them all together so they’re working in unison for the success of your organization—each member playing the right note, at the right time, from the right location on the field.

Managing your managers is no different. They act as your section leaders, training and directing those in their departments, and providing coaching and encouragement as needed. But they still need direction from the highest level. You’ve still got to pick the music and write the drill.

The principal reason to manage your managers is to ensure that they operate as a team. Each of your managers has a distinct personality and approach to management that affects their leadership style. One may be deadline-driven, another prone to dawdle. One may focus on building their team’s strengths, another on correcting their team’s weaknesses. One may communicate a lot, another only a little.

These differences can work, but they can also cause trouble. Employees who report to or work with more than one manager may not know what is expected of them. Or they may find themselves overworked if managers don’t coordinate workloads. Cross-team efforts may be delayed or even ruined due to misunderstandings or failures to communicate (imagine the tubas and the piccolos trying to inhabit the same space on the field). The organization may be guided by several conflicting personalities instead of single, unified company culture.

To bring managers together, you need something to unite them around. This is your company culture—the personality of the organization, its mission, and values, working environment, policies, and practices. But a company culture can’t exist in the abstract. It needs flesh and bone. So have your management team develop a set of shared goals and priorities—and make sure they’re specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (aka SMART goals). Think of this as your musical score.

Of course, you won’t have much of a half-time show if everyone isn’t on the field, instruments in hand, and ready to play. Hold regular management meetings to ensure managers are working well together and that their teams are working well together. In other words, confirm everyone’s on the same page. These meetings should have clear objectives, provide managers a chance to work through conflicts, and give you an opportunity to coach them. This would also be an opportune time to ask managers what they need from you and from each other.

Even if your managers are talented and can be trusted to lead their teams, it still helps to direct their management efforts towards a singular purpose. Even a band with top notch section leaders will be improved by a skillful conductor. Likewise, to coax the best results out of your organization, ensure that you give your managers ample direction and the tools they need to lead their teams to success.

employee experience
8 ways to improve the employee experience in 2022

Who wants a better employee experience in 2022? Almost everyone, and especially HR professionals.

After a surreal employee experience in 2020 and an uncertain one in 2021, it’s time for a change. Time for an improvement in the employee experience. Time for stability.

More than 90% of employers plan to make enhancing the employee experience a top priority in 2022, according to research from Willis Towers Watson. That’s a good idea after many companies and their employees strived, but didn’t exactly thrive, since the pandemic.

“The role of the leader has changed and will continue to change,” says Jennifer Kraszewski, VP of Human Resources at Paycom. “As a manager in the current environment, it’s imperative to make an intentional effort to create a bond with your employees, allowing them to feel certainty, significance, connection and ultimately, empowerment.”

In the new workplace, employees won’t be looking for the perks that made some companies uber-attractive in the past decade – such as stocked break rooms, catered happy hours, on-site game rooms, and dry cleaning services.

Not now. An enhanced employee experience will take a more holistic approach this year. So here are eight ways you can make the employee experience better in 2022.

Show more empathy for improved employee experience.

Perhaps the best thing to do now is start from a place of empathy. When you approach the employee experience from their point of view, you’ll likely come up with impactful ways to engage them again.

“Leading with empathy means understanding and accepting that people are not always operating at their very best,” says Kathleen Quinn Votaw, CEO of TalenTrust. “Issues from home affect work lives. Working within and around that reality is the best way to create a place where people want to come to work.”

Quinn Votaw offers these tips for all leaders. So you’ll likely want to pass them along to your front-line managers, too.

  • Be authentic. Take extra steps to ask questions to show you care about and are interested in what will make employees’ experiences better.
  • Add a personal touch. Consistently communicate with a personal touch – specific employee praise, genuine concern for well-being – to build morale and increases engagement. 
  • Make time to connect. Give employees time and opportunities to connect personally at least weekly. Ask them to cultivate ideas for better experiences during the social time – and bring them to you.
  • Respect boundaries. Don’t assume everyone’s definition of a great employee experience involves experiencing everything with everyone! Find out where employees want the line drawn between life and work.

Go to the source

The reasons employees leave and the reasons employers think they leave don’t line up, according to a Joblist survey.

For instance, more than 70% of employees say their companies can prevent turnover by improving benefits. Yet, just 42% of employers thought benefits were an issue. Another disparity: Nearly 60% of employees would stay more loyal if the company offered unscheduled raises or promotions. Meanwhile, less than 40% of employers have done that.

You don’t necessarily have to serve up better benefits and pay to improve the employee experience. But you do want to find – through surveys, town hall meetings, focus groups, etc. – what would make employees’ experiences better. Then determine what’s possible – and explain what’s not and why.

Make value matter

The workplace isn’t that much different than any place employees do business. They talk about the stores and restaurants where they felt they were valued.

To improve the employee experience, you might consider – and treat – them as customers in 2022 and beyond.

“It can be something as simple as setting up consistent one-on-one time with employees and giving them the space to ask questions, discuss their development, and gauge progress,” says Kraszewski. “Let them lead the conversation. The key is to not only address professional topics but also to get a measure of how they are feeling personally.”

Improve engagement

Increasing engagement won’t just improve the experience in 2022.

“Highly engaged teams experience greater profitability, a reduction in absenteeism, and decreased turnover,” says Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, Chief Workforce Scientist at the Achievers Workforce Institute. “To foster an environment of engagement, start with creating a culture of recognition.”

The key nowadays: Give everyone opportunities and tools to recognize and reward others in the organization. If you just wait for scheduled ceremonies, leadership’s time, and big prizes to come in, you’ll miss organic chances to boost morale and improve culture.

“Consider developing a recognition strategy to provide employees with a dedicated channel to acknowledge one another, whether it’s through written kudos or physical rewards,” Baumgartner suggests. “This allows team members to give more frequent and meaningful feedback, even when physically distant.”

Maintain a remote option

Like it or not, many employees now expect their work experience to be not at work. Nearly 65% of employees say flexible scheduling and remote work options will improve their experience and loyalty, the Joblist survey also found.

While you might not be able to offer fully remote roles, can you offer more hybrid options?

To do that, you might work with front-line managers to:

  • separate roles that must be done on-site all the time (high-physical-touch duties)
  • find the duties in each role that can be done effectively while remote
  • determine the percentage of time people in each role need to be on-site versus remote to do the work (for instance, 25% remote and 75% on-site per week), and
  • offer employees hybrid options based on the ratios.

Offer more learning opportunities

Many employees cite opportunities to grow as a reason to stay at their job – or a reason to go after another. Of course, you want to be on the reason-to-stay end of that in 2022.

But just offering employees a splattering of learning opportunities won’t cut it. To improve the experience, you want to give them time and resources to learn in areas that will expand their careers.

The first step is to help employees establish a career path. When they have an idea of where they want to go, they can choose the training that will help them get there.

Then, lead them to self-directed learning, webinars, in-person events, schooling, and company training to stay on the path. Or head in a new direction if or when that happens.

Focus on employee experience in company culture

Look around. Are people happy to be with each other, engaged in their work, concerned about the company and its success? Those are critical factors in positive company culture.

The better a company’s culture, the better the employee experience. Often, the best way to improve company culture is to remove negative barriers to it.

You could watch for signs you have a negative workplace culture, but it would be better to survey employees to find out if these conditions exist (and affect their engagement):

  • gossip and social cliques
  • frequent miscommunication
  • aggressive and/or passive-aggressive behavior
  • dictatorial management techniques
  • excessive absenteeism
  • excessive employee complaints
  • imbalanced/favoritism management
  • employee exhaustion and lack of work/life balance
  • unrealistic workloads, and
  • high turnover.

Those are signs you likely need to make top-level decisions to reboot culture with employee input.

Increase the sense of belonging to improve employee experience.

People stay where they feel they belong. And if you aren’t in a position to increase pay, technology, or perks, you can almost always do something to help employees feel like they belong.

“With intentional inclusion initiatives, employees can maintain their initial feeling of inclusion throughout their career. Specific programs employees can implement include a mentorship program, company-wide employee resource groups, and scheduled check-ins to foster their sense of belonging,” says Baumgartner.

But you can’t stop there. HR pros and front-line leaders want to do a regular pulse check on all of their efforts to improve the employee experience.

“There is no finish line for this initiative; instead, it is an ongoing journey that will change with employees’ needs. It is going to take time and effort but when employees feel a sense of belonging they rarely think about looking for a new job, are more enthusiastic at work, have higher job satisfaction and are more engaged, making the work worth it,” Baumgartner says.

psychological safety
How Leadership’s Understanding of “Psychological Safety” is More Important Than Ever

Whether you’ve been leading a remote workforce for decades, recently ventured into this space, are dabbling with hybrid models, or fully returning your staff to in-house status, one thing is certain: The concept of “workplace” has changed forever. And “psychological safety” has taken an elevated role. The hard, sacred work of nurturing company culture has gotten even more dynamic in the process.

We’ve all had a front row seat to “The Great Resignation” when the country and the job market opened back up. The perception of boundless options prevail (all while making the workplace and cultural undertaking even more fraught for leadership). The talented and the hopeful are not wrong – there is an opportunity boom. What remains is more important than ever! There is a primal need of feeling psychologically safe. No one’s accepting work, live, virtual or otherwise, if they don’t feel safe and included within the culture.

Therefore, inclusion and belonging have taken on a heightened level of importance within the workplace. Once buzzwords in the workplace, and often used only for PR purposes, these traits are now business imperatives. Talent is more intentional than ever about interviewing the company they will lend their skills to, rather than simply being interviewed by a potential employer. Value and career alignment, community, allyship and trust are dominating interview conversations more and more.

This war on talent is opening the eyes of global companies and leaders to rethink their strategy for attracting and retaining the world’s top talent. When employees leave an organization to take on other opportunities or resign without another offer in hand, there may be a true disconnect in value, career alignment or trust. Here are some immediate questions to consider:

  • Did the employee speak up about concerns prior to resigning? If no, why not? If yes, were there follow-up conversations and realignment on actions?
  • Did the manager have regular conversations with the employee on career goals and timing?
  • Did the organization make inclusion and belonging visible priorities and central business strategy?
  • How safe do your employees feel to share their frustrations or misalignments? On a scale of 1 to 10 (1= not safe at all, 10=extremely safe).
  • How inclusive is your leadership?

As I share often with other Diversity & Inclusion executive leaders, the role of psychological safety and trust continues to be the solution for regrettable attrition. Dr. Timothy Clark, author of The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety, defines psychological safety as “an environment of rewarded vulnerability”. When we take this definition and use it to assess our current culture in many organizations, we see the missing ingredient. It is imperative that executive leaders, managers, and supervisors all rethink what workplace inclusion and trust look like. It means we sometimes have the uncomfortable conversations with staff, and ask questions like,“What are you hoping to get from your time in this role?” or “How do you see this opportunity playing into your overall career goals?” These basic questions create opportunities for alignment and realignment throughout their time in the organization.

We hear the statement all the time that people don’t quit companies, they quit bosses. And often when talent quits a boss, it is because somewhere along the journey, that talent lost trust in the boss’s ability to place the employee’s interest in mind.

“Do you have me and my career and my ability to excel in this role, in mind, when you’re leading? If you don’t, then I’ll go somewhere where I am celebrated and recognized for the value I add.”

So, take a moment. Step back. Reflect and ask yourself those questions.

Psychological safety is not simply something to “achieve” or a box to check. It’s something to embody. And it takes continuous work and improvement.

It’s also not something that any one person can achieve alone for an organization. It’s on each of us – from CEOs and tenured leaders to new hires experiencing their first day – to consistently work towards… Together.

With that, I encourage you to consider rethinking psychological safety in corporate culture.

Preparing the Workplace for Another Challenging Year

As we enter the new year, the risks of COVID-19 may recede, but the trauma, pain, and disruptions of these past two years will still be with us, affecting our lives and our work. We’ve all struggled, sometimes in ways we can’t pinpoint. 

In her book Bearing the Unbearable, Joanne Cacciatore describes grief as “a process of expansion and contraction.” Cacciatore explains that in a moment of contraction, we may feel unsteady and unsafe, and we “feel the call to self-protect.” In a moment of expansion, we “become more willing to venture out and explore” and “take risks.” This process isn’t exclusive to grief, of course. Whatever the cause, many of us right now are experiencing one or the other, or both. 

A recent guest on the HR Social Hour Half Hour Podcast, Julie Turney, founder and CEO of HR@Heart Consulting, observed that people today recognize that they deserve better, and they are demanding better. They are less willing to settle, less comfortable with the way things are. People are fleeing jobs that are physically or psychologically unsafe. Others are chasing their dreams with a newfound passion. 

For the foreseeable future, people will seek environments that are both flexible and strong enough to support a process of contraction and expansion. They will desire work that gives them a safe place to be and a fulfilling place to go. They will crave a future they can own and a course they can chart, and their jobs will either help or hinder them. Jobs that help them will be in high demand.

Fortunately, such sought-after work environments can be achieved with some basic practices. Let’s look at some.

Talk About the Future
Ask your managers to talk regularly with their direct reports about how they’re feeling today and what they’d like to be doing in the future. Due to the circumstances, you can expect the answers they hear to vary and to change. On a given day, an employee may feel optimistic and ambitious, eager to take on a new project or a new role. But a week later, that same employee may feel hesitant or anxious about taking on any new responsibilities.

Don’t assume an employee expressing conflicting feelings isn’t up for the task at hand. In normal times, it’s natural to second guess big decisions, and these are not normal times. Some employees may need a little extra encouragement. Others may truly be happier continuing to do what they’ve been doing.

Through these conversations, managers can help their people make informed decisions about their future that make sense for them and for the company.

Don’t Be Afraid to Set Deadlines
Giving employees time to decide what future makes the most sense for them can go a long way to building trust and gratitude. There will come a time, however, when a decision needs to be made. A manager who has been talking with a member of their team about a new career opportunity in another part of the company, for example, will need a definitive answer eventually, probably sooner rather than later.

When a manager has a conversation with a team member about opportunities for growth that require significant change, they should, as soon as possible, make it clear to the employee when a final decision needs to be made. That way the employee has a set timeframe to work through their feelings, and a deadline isn’t unexpectedly thrust upon them.

Provide Grief Support
A lot of people are grieving, and grief takes work. People grieving need the time, space, and freedom to do that work. The option to take bereavement leave after a loss can be invaluable to them, but so too is the liberty to take days off down the road when they’re needed. The grieving process isn’t linear, and the unbearable pain of grief can resurface unexpectedly, months and years later. The life of grief is long. Whatever you can do to enable employees to safely take the time they need to process a loss and heal, do it. 

Take Care of Yourself and Your HR Leaders
Lars Schmidt, the founder of Amplify, points out that, while the “market for HR roles has never been hotter,” the work of HR has taken a “sustained toll” on those doing that work. They’re “carrying the emotional burdens of their employees (and their own).” Burnout is common.

Be sure to give yourself and anyone else caring for your people time to rest, recharge, grieve, or whatever else each of you needs to do to stay healthy. “Resilience is not an infinite resource,” executive coach Sarah Noll Wilson reminds us. Take time off. You need it, too.  

Don’t Take Departures Personally or Draw the Wrong Conclusions
When an employee leaves an organization, it’s always a good idea to understand why and consider what changes you could have made to keep them. What you learn may not persuade that employee to reconsider their departure, but it may assist you in keeping others. That said, sometimes employees quit and there’s nothing you could have done to convince them to stay. The best possible workplace in the world will still see people go elsewhere simply because those people want a change or because of circumstances beyond their control.

When your employees tell you they’re leaving, do your due diligence to find out why, but don’t overthink their departures or take them personally. If everything was good and they still left, that just means everything was good and they still left. It doesn’t mean that you didn’t do enough or should have done something differently. Believe in the work you’re doing. Be kind to yourself. As Lars Schmidt says in his book Redefining HR, “we’re on the front lines of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows of all our employees.”    

Inspire Hope
Whether we feel the strong urge to self-protect or we’re jumping out of our seat to pursue a risky venture, we could all use a little hope. The philosopher David Utsler writes, “Hope offers no guarantees. Hope does not promise that life or the world will get better. Hope only insists on the possibility.”

You can inspire hope by expanding the scope of what is possible for your employees. Talk with them about their dreams and ambitions so they can imagine what possibilities lie before them. Talk about where your company is going and what you’ll need from your employees. Help them envision a place where they can explore, take risks, and be supported.

Then work together to get there.