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Employee Retention Strategies

In last month’s blog post, we discussed the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition. This week we will touch on effective employee retention strategies. One of the most difficult situations a business can find itself in is when a top employee quits unexpectedly. Almost immediately the management team must take on a whole slew of challenges, namely replacing the valued employee, as well as the effect this sudden departure will have on the rest of the team. One employee’s departure may cause others to consider the same. For this reason, both job satisfaction and employee retention should really be at the top of every business’ list, so as to reduce turnover. Let’s take a look at some of the best practices when it comes to employee retention:

 

  • The onboarding process – First impressions are everything That’s why an employee’s first day is so vital to their perception of and performance in the company. Orientation is a key component of the onboarding process, as the new hire is introduced to the team and can get a quick look at the operations of the business, as well as a layout of the office space. The team should be warm and welcoming to all new hires, even inviting them out to lunch or for a morning coffee can create fast friendships within the workplace. Good relationships between staff are an essential feature of job satisfaction.
  • Compensation and rewards – Another key element in job satisfaction is making sure that employees are compensated handsomely and that their achievements and accomplishments are recognized. Money is probably the most attractive and competitive feature of a job listing, so pay your employees fairly and entice them with raises after a long track record of top-notch work.
  • Balancing work and life – Yet another important aspect in employee retention is your employees’ abilities to balance work with their respective social lives, and even school. If an employee is working too many hours, s/he can get easily bogged down and lose motivation. This can lead to resignation due to lost interest and feeling unappreciated. There should be a healthy balance between work and life for all employees, and management should be understanding when employees request a reduction in hours or workload. Quality work comes from happy employees, so job satisfaction is very important in this aspect.

 

Employee retention is the key to keeping a successful business running at peak performance. Job satisfaction among employees is a deciding factor when considering applying for a new job or toughing it out at their current job. Make sure employees are happy, compensated well, and really feel like they each play an integral role in the team.

The Difference Between Recruitment and Talent Acquisition

The terms “talent acquisition” and “recruitment” are often confused as meaning the same thing, but this is not the case. There are key differences between the two, differences with which you should familiarize yourself if you’re looking to hire the most qualified candidates for specific positions within your company. For starters, recruitment means that you’re looking to hire someone, dare I say anyone, in order to fill a vacancy. Talent acquisition, on the other hand, is the process of strategically looking for specialists, leaders, future executives, or other qualified professionals for a specific position within the company. Let’s delve into both and take a look at which one is better depending on the industry and why:

  • Recruitment – Again, recruitment is the process by which you look to fill vacant positions quickly and without much regard for the candidate’s’ particular specialties, if defined. Recruiting may be seen as reactive, meaning that a position recently opened up and it must be filled.

 

  • Talent Acquisition – As previously stated, talent acquisition is all about actively searching for the most qualified candidate to hire for a specific position. This strategy is common among niche industries such as, medical, technology, legal, and even translation services. Kathleen Quinn Votaw, Founder and CEO of the HR consulting firm, TalenTrust, says that, “The areas with the greatest skills shortages are those that most need a talent strategy.” Typically, if you’re looking to hire people for a long-term position, you should aim for talent acquisition, so as to lower a potentially high turnover rate, which is a possible effect of recruiting less-qualified candidates.

 

 

Talent acquisition is becoming increasingly more popular, and usually requires some marketing strategies to make the position known to specific, potential candidates. As niche industries continue to grow and populate as preferred career paths, hiring managers within are simultaneously scouting out candidates with the best talent, who are most qualified, and who will both ameliorate, as well as benefit from working for, the company. Define whom you’re looking to hire and for which positions, and either recruit or acquire talent accordingly.

Common HR Traps and Managing Employees Effectively

The modern role of a Human Resources Manager is to recruit, interview, and hire employees, ensure the happiness and wellbeing of the employees in the office environment, ensure compliance with labor laws and employment standards, among other assorted responsibilities. It is a big job trying to advocate for each individual in the office, as well as trying to balance employee satisfaction with meeting the goals, objectives, and overall standards of the company, but someone’s got to do it. Due to the difficulties of this job, there are common HR traps which some businesses may experience. Here are just a few, as well as tips on how to avoid or resolve them:

 

  • Not Being Familiar with Employment Laws – As the HR rep, you should familiarize yourself with the proper procedures of hiring, maintaining, and terminating employees. If not, your company may be sued for improper or unlawful termination. Brainstorm clever interview questions that have to do with the job itself for which you are hiring, as well as a list of do’s and don’ts for your managers to follow during the interview process. These practices will help to ensure that you hire the best candidate for the position, and that you will be protected when it comes time to terminate.
  • A Lack of an Onboarding Process – Onboarding means that a new employee is properly oriented with the office and that managers and employees are ready to welcome the new hire to the team. Nothing sends off a bad signal like an unacquainted, new employee who walks into an empty or quiet office on their first day, particularly when the manager or other essential personnel is absent upon the newbie’s arrival. A good practice is to make sure the manager is in the office before the new hire arrives, in order to greet and familiarize them with the workplace and environment. Current employees should also be informed of the new hire’s arrival and should invite him/her out to lunch to make them feel welcome and like a valued team member.
  • Insufficient Training Periods – One of the most important, yet overlooked aspects of growing and expanding businesses is the need for continuous training. This is particularly common among smaller businesses because of the constant influx of new tasks and jobs. Combine that with the short history of the company, and you may end up with a recipe for disaster. These tasks are new to the company, meaning that people will have little-no knowledge of how to complete them. That’s where training comes into play. It is essential to train employees thoroughly, so they get a better grasp of their respective job duties, and, when the time comes, they can train someone else.

 

 

Don’t let your company be subject to common HR pitfalls and traps. The HR manager is on the front lines of the company, fighting with both the employees’ and the company’s ideals in mind. If you’ve experienced problems with your HR department, it might be time to consider formalizing it. This not only helps you hire and retain better employees, but you also build a positive reputation for your business.

Performance Reviews

Whether it is called an annual review, performance review, or a salary adjustment meeting, these workplace events can be stressful for both the employee and the manager. These meetings may seem like a blip on the radar as they usually only happen annually or bi-annually, but they can set the tone for your company and the expectations that you have for your employees across the entire spectrum of leadership. Here are a few tips to help make performance reviews positive and motivational.

  • Prepare in Advance –  Never go into a performance review without preparation. Both the manager and the employee should plan in advance with a worksheet that they can fill out prior to the review that lists major accomplishments, strengths, weaknesses and future goals going forward. This will give both the employee and the reviewer a good way to organize their thoughts.
  • Keep Things Positive – Avoid heading right into the areas where you would like to see improvement. Instead spend the vast amount of time during  the review talking about what went right during the year, accomplishments, and improvements that you have seen since the last review. Everyone wants to know that their hard work has been noticed and find that it is rewarding when a leader in the company has taken note.
  • Talk About Struggles – Every employee, including yourself has some area of the job that they struggle with. Talk about what those are for this particular employee and how the company can be of assistance to guide, mentor or support so that these things are less of a struggle.  This may include assisting with a class on a topic that impacts your company or potentially arranging for a training session.
  • Create Goals – During the review, be sure to talk about future goals that the employee has as well as what you see on the horizon. This is a great way to set your agenda out and let your employee know that you see things moving forward for them. They may have ideas that can build up your business as well.
  • Be Ready to Do a Balancing Act –  Be prepared to be constructive in your discussions but also be ready to hold your ground. The more prepared you are the easier the conversation will go. If you have questions talk to your HR department or representative.

Managing Conflicts at Work

No matter what size your business is there are bound to be conflict between employees. Everyone comes to the table with different experiences, beliefs and expectations. Your job as a business leader is to find a way to cultivate and enjoy those differences without having to manage conflicts constantly between team members. It is pretty much inevitable that conflict will arise in times of stress or change. How you deal with it will determine the extent and impact on your company. Here are a few tips from experts at Forbes, Time, and U.S. News on what to do (and what not to do) in times of conflict.

  • Be Prepared – Honestly, you know it is practically inevitable – so plan ahead. Talk to your Human Resources personnel, who are experts on dealing with many personalities and are usually good under pressure. They may have courses or suggestions for how to handle day-to-day conflicts or larger disagreements. They can also be excellent mediators in the  event of a larger conflict.
  • Stay Calm – Conflict can quickly escalate if all parties are not dealt with in a calm manner. Your leadership skills of listening, problem solving and finding a common ground will be tested. Most of all keep your cool and check yourself before dealing with any crisis, big or small.
  • Document – One of the hallmarks of a great Human Resources department is documenting any conflicts so that they can be handled correctly. Be sure your HR department or specialist keeps a written log of what the conflict was and how it was handled. You may need this documentation later if the conflict comes up again or if a legal situation arises.
  • Do Not Avoid – Some business leaders make the all-too-common-mistake of trying to avoid the conflict and let it solve itself. Experts warn against this because what may seem like it is settled may rear it’s head later and cause even more problems later.
  • Follow Up – Many conflicts can be solved quickly and rather quietly. However, as a business leader, you should make it a priority to check in with concerned parties to make sure all is well or at least getting better. HR should also follow up and conclude documentation on the conflict.

Managing Conflict at Work

Workplace conflict is an unavoidable consequence of dealing with differing personalities and work habits in a workplace. Effectively managing conflict is arguably the hardest thing a manager has to do. Unfortunately, as a manager, if you’re going to do your job, you have no choice. Since avoiding workplace conflict is a near impossible feat, be prepared for how to handle these circumstances in advance. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with workplace conflict. 

  • Stay Calm – Even when provoked, keep a close hold on your temper; stay as calm as you possibly can. Don’t let emotions escalate or drive decisions. However, do let individuals express their feelings. Some feelings of anger and/or hurt usually accompany conflict situations. Before any kind of problem-solving can take place, these emotions should be expressed and acknowledged. Each member of the conflict should have a chance to say what is on their mind in a respectful and safe manner.

  • Deal With the Issues

    First of all, if you are a manager dealing with conflict you should: recognize that there is a conflict, be objective, and be fair and consistent. What will help in any conflict would be a human resources liaison who can moderate and ease the tension. HR personnel are an unfailingly objective third party. Short of calling in HR moderators, it would be helpful if there was a written code of conduct from which to read and guide employees when a situation arises.

  • Document – Whenever a conflict arises be sure to document the event. Who was involved? What was the resolution? If a pattern of conflict emerges, it is possible that one or two employees may turn out to be the “common factor.”  In this case, documenting for potential future incidences or, unfortunately, termination will be needed.
  • Determine Follow Up – After a workplace conflict, whether it is related to work or is personal, it is critical to follow up. You may want to schedule a follow-up meeting in about two weeks to determine how the parties are doing. Did the issue continue to fester? Was it completely resolved? Has it impacted workflow or morale in the office? Determine what you’ll do if the conflict goes unresolved. If the conflict is causing a disruption in the department and it remains unresolved, you may need to explore other avenues. In some cases the conflict becomes a performance issue, and may become a topic for coaching sessions, performance appraisals, or disciplinary action.

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Avoiding HR Issues

Owning a small business can be a major juggling act. Being a leader, chief financial officer, office manager and all the other roles that go into making a successful business can be hard. Keeping all the “balls in the air” can be a tough juggling act, which can cause mistakes – sometimes serious ones. Mistakes in the human resources area can be easy to make if you don’t understand and are compliant with the law.

Here are five of the most common HR management pitfalls small businesses face today and how to avoid making them. 

  • Outdated Employee Handbook – The employee handbook is your guidebook for all employees and company leaderships about work-related policies. These policies could include: discrimination policies, standards of conduct, compensation, benefits, work schedules, security, and vacation/sick policies. Each business is different so the policies laid out in the handbook should be updated regularly and be specific to your field of business. Not having company policies in writing and updating regularly is just asking for trouble.
  •  Staying knowledgeable of Changing HR Laws

    Understanding federal, state, and local labor laws are critical when running a successful small business. Compliance with these laws can be a big headache for small businesses. There are a multitude of regulations, and these laws continue to change rapidly. Have a dedicated employee or HR consultant who can stay on top of changing laws and compliance requirements.

  • Handling Terminations Poorly – No business leader wants to deal with a termination but they happen all the time. Messy fires can lead to unwanted lawsuits. Both performance and policy violations require documentation and a paper trail. “Make sure that you document any disciplinary issues, safety inspections, performance discussions, and the like. These records can save you if done right — or kill you if done poorly or not at all.”(Source: Intuit Books)  This is yet another reason why the well-written employee handbook is needed.
  • Develop a Reward System – Employees want to know how they are doing.

    Recognition of good performance is essential to a healthy workplace; without it, your business could face retention issues. Plan and maintain a reward system that will allow your company to maintain employees that do their job well. It is easier to maintain a good employee than to train a new one. 

  • Weak Hiring and On-boarding System – Too many employers hire hastily because they need the position filled quickly. Spend time weeding out unqualified candidates and on-boarding exceptional ones. Take the necessary time to be sure the candidate feels at home, has a mentor and understand the daily running of the office so they don’t feel overwhelmed or out-of-place.

Employee Incentives

Research shows that feeling appreciated- which comes from recognition from others- is one of the top drivers of employee engagement and retention. Showing appreciation can come in many different forms depending upon your field of specialty. Pay raises, promotions and Employee Appreciation Days are far from the only ways to motivate and supply incentives to your team. More than half of America’s companies use incentive programs spending over $77 billion annually on them. Here are a few monetary and creative approaches.

  • Be Flexible – With so many employees with families and responsibilities outside the office, a great reward is flexibility. Since not every employee fits into the 9-5 environment allowing for flexibility is a way to boost morale, as well as show your employees how much their hard work is appreciated. Flexibility may mean flex hours or possibly even remote work. This flexibility may mean that your employees can cut back on child care or even allow for more time with children in general. Flexibility costs nothing and can reap major rewards in the long run.
  • On-Site Rewards – Making your office into a place team members want to be is an incentive that employees will really appreciate. Ideas for this could range from a coffee cart on Fridays or a membership to the gym next door. Some very creative companies have installed game rooms or nap pods where employees can relax during breaks. This may seem counter productive to getting the work done but research says that these additions and incentives increase productivity.
  • Call Outs – Everyone likes to be recognized for hard work or a job well done. “Call out” to team members who have done a great job during staff meetings or on an employee bulletin board. Recognizing an employee who has done an outstanding job could be in the form of a thank  you note, a gift card or some other reward. Some unique ideas for rewards include featuring the employee in the company newsletter, giving priority parking for a month, arrange for a lunch in their honor or plan an “appreciation day” for those who go above and beyond the call of duty.

Perks whether they are financial or creative in nature are worth the time and effort as they will boost morale and possibly productivity. Give creative incentives a try in your office.

Successful Recruiting Strategies

If  Monster, Indeed, LinkedIn and Career Builder are the only  strategies that come to mind when thinking about recruiting the best employees to your business, then you may need to rethink your process of recruiting. If you are looking for a dream candidate to fit into the skill set you need and mesh with the personality of your company you may need to think outside-the-box. To get a list of qualified candidates instead of a pile of resumes that can only be characterized as a “poor fit” you may want to read on about what business leaders are doing to “beef up” their recruiting strategies.

It’s really not enough these days to post a job listing on your company website or one of the many job listing sites and hope that the candidate of your dreams will magically appear and apply. Business leaders need to be active to attract talent, or else someone is going to snatch up that dream employee. In order to compete, you need to make sure your recruitment strategies are up to snuff.

  • Social Media – Use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media sites to spread the word about the benefits of working at your company, as well as openings that are being posted. Jobvite reports that 44% of recruiters say that social recruiting has increased both the quantity and quality of candidates. In addition, Socially engaged companies are 58% more likely to attract top talent.
  • Drive Referrals as a Company-Wide Initiative– According to the Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association, referrals are one of the easiest ways to source talent. Using the referral networks of your entire company instead of just those of your hiring team will seriously boost your results. Make the referral initiatives worth-while for employees with prizes and benefits that they will be working towards.
  • Teach Your Interview Teams to be Highly Effective – This means that your hiring process is well tuned and practiced in the right questions to ask, how to ask them, what red flags to look for and how to bring the entire team into the hiring process to make sure the new hire will be a good fit.
  • Retain and Recruit the Best – The best way to fill empty slots is to keep them from being empty in the first place. Identify the top 20% of performers at your business, and keep that information in an easily accessible list. Then, sit down and create an action plan to keep those employees happy and keep them with the company. Those top workers probably know and work with people in similar fields who are also the best of the best. Find out what makes them the best so you know what to look for in new hires.