Innovative HR Solutions, LLC

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Five Ideas to Help Your Business Improve Employee Engagement

Mastering how to manage employees in a business successfully includes understanding what strategies work best to boost employee satisfaction. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to building morale and improving engagement.  What works for a professional organization might work at a manufacturing facility. But as an HR professional you can make a great deal of headway, quickly, by showing your team your appreciation, respecting their needs, understanding their limits, and offering them engaging and meaningful work.  Here are five ideas to help you offer your employees unique work experience that provides job enrichment and will hopefully reduce turnover.

Offer Flexible Work Schedules

Consider offering a hybrid or complete remote work option. Improved engagement and higher productivity are just a few of the benefits. Flexible work schedules can also help you attract and retain top-quality talent, in addition to providing a way to boost employee morale.

If you have resisted allowing employees to work from home at least part of the time, now might be time to reconsider. Give some thought to how you can create and manage a remote team, as well as the communication tools and training that employees would need to succeed.

If your business model cannot support a hybrid schedule consider other arrangements such as flex time, which allows workers to determine the start and finish times of their shifts. Even a small adjustment in hours can make a commute smoother and employees more satisfied.

Recognize your Employees

Rewards help distinguish you from your competitors in the minds of your employees and show appreciation for their hard work. You do not have to create programs that will be expensive but rather modest investments.  Recognition can go a long way to support employee engagement and improve morale.

An employee recognition program is another way to help instill pride. Take time to spotlight staff for specific achievements. Whether it singles out the accomplishments of one worker or an entire team, public recognition for a job very well done should be a part of any workplace culture.

Encourage and Support Learning Opportunities

If training has taken a backseat in the past, your employees may feel that their career has plateaued because they are not growing and learning new skills. That lack of advancement can drive workers to look for opportunities outside of the organization. To retain valued workers, it is imperative to speak with your employees to discuss their career goals and plans for the future.

Sometimes, the best resource is within your company. Ask your most seasoned employees to share their knowledge with colleagues, through a formal mentoring program. Programs such as this are a win-win for both the seasoned and the new employee.

Cross training is often a welcomed alternative to an expensive out-sourced training program.  Cross-training is a smart business practice as this allows employees to gain new skills and experience in areas where they typically are not currently functioning. They can also get an inside look at roles they might be eyeing but are uncertain whether they want to pursue.

For the truly ambitious employee, tuition reimbursement for college or professional certification fees is a wonderful opportunity for both the employee and employer.  Tuition reimbursement builds loyalty  and increases the skills of those high-performing employees.

Create a Culture of Engagement

Many successful businesses support a culture that keeps employees connected and engaged. You can foster a welcoming and collaborative work environment that recognizes everyone’s unique point of view to keep employees energized and engaged.

Today, workplace culture is supported by the values of the organization. Company policies and your manager’s personal behavior can influence and help shape the company’s culture and how employees build on it.  Key to building a culture of engagement is to  demonstrate support, inclusivity and empathy through your own actions and give your employees a sense of empowerment. When workers can make decisions on their own or with minimal direction, they will feel more invested in their roles and responsibilities.

Benchmark your Pay and Rewards Programs

Competitive pay is critical to employee engagement, reducing turnover and retaining a loyal workforce. Do your research to find out what your competition offers, and make sure you are paying the market rate or higher. Most likely, your employees have already done their homework.

Regularly benchmarking your salaries and adjusting the pay ranges can help employees feel they are being fairly compensated.  An at-market compensation and rewards program will support the team, improve productivity and reduce turnover.


Monday, March 11, 2024

What are the Lessons Learned from an Employee Survey Expert?

Many companies are lacking the expertise to deal with multiple evolving business issues such as competition, technology concerns, workforce development and talent management.  These demands can contribute to a very complex work environment.  To meet this challenge organizations will often determine that the best way to plan for the future is to determine how their employees are responding to change today.  One of the best ways to evaluate employee satisfaction and engagement is to conduct an employee survey.  Outlined below are several lessons learned about the employee survey process so that the HR professional can make the survey process more effective.

Survey Initiative Discussion about the Types of Survey

Participating organizations are using a wide range of employee surveys to gather information and insight to make informed decisions. Each survey collects various types of data and during the discussions with the leadership team it is important to determine what type of survey is to be conducted, the frequency and overall goals of the initiative.  Employee engagement surveys focus on culture and vision, pulse surveys identify targeted areas of improvement, and on-boarding and off-boarding surveys complete the life cycle of an employee.  Management will need to identify the goal of each survey to ensure that the survey will meet the needs of the organization.

Vendor Selection Process

Organizations that primarily use external survey vendors are significantly more satisfied with their survey process than organizations using self-service online survey services. The reasons survey companies are providing greater satisfaction and value include the expertise and experience provided, timely reporting and analysis,  objective analysis of survey results, more focus on implementing changes, and greater support and involvement from management.   

Survey Design and Development

The key reasons for conducting employee surveys include identifying performance improvement opportunities, assessing engagement and satisfaction levels and trends, ongoing measurement and identifying causes of employee turnover.  Make sure to focus your organization’s surveys on gathering actionable information that will positively impact employees, customers, the environment and your bottom line.  Keep your survey short, provide an opportunity for employees to provide written comments and utilize the demographic survey feature to drill down to provide meaningful data to leaders, managers and supervisors.

Survey Launch

The most common frequency for conducting surveys is annually and organizations strive to achieve a high survey response rate with a 3-week survey response period being the most popular.  Organizations that conduct a 3-week survey will typically have a survey response rate of 60% or greater.

Post Survey Analysis

It is imperative that the survey results be effectively communicated to all staff.  This can be accomplished through a communication strategy in which the executive team shares the results, engages the staff to better understand the underlying issues, and then identifies the most appropriate initiatives to resolve the issues and enhance the organization.  Where appropriate, it is important to involve the employees in the problem solving and implementation process to create ownership and shared accountability. The power of a survey like this is to give the employees a voice and then to let them know that they have been heard and that their feedback is being taken seriously. As meaningful action steps are taken to address their concerns, they will be more likely to participate in these types of surveys moving forward.

Action Plans and Accountability

The leadership team needs to periodically follow up to address and share the organization’s progress with respect to achieving the agreed upon goals.  When reviewing the results of this or any survey, it is important to remember that the data and feedback received reflects the perceptions of the respondents. These perceptions present a substantially accurate view of how the organization is understood culturally and systemically by the survey participants and are a valuable tool as the organization undertakes any improvement process. What a survey cannot provide is “scientific truth” about the organization. Disparities between perceptions held about the organization and the realities of the organization sometimes do exist, often due to a lack of communication or lack of clarity about the organization’s mission, values, or strategic goals. Given this understanding of the difference between “perception” and “reality,” those who initiate follow-up action after the survey results can then assess how accurately these perceptions reflect actual conditions within the organization.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

What Can Human Resources do to Develop a Meaningful Succession Plan?

Change is constant and with many companies lacking the expertise to deal with an evolving business issues such as global competition, changes in technology and the need to reexamine business models are factors that contribute to a very complex work environment.  To meet this challenge organizations will often determine that the best way to plan for their future is to create succession plans for key positions throughout the organization.  By implementing these three succession plan initiatives companies will ensure that there is no interruption in service, innovation or customer support.

Hiring the Right Talent

With unemployment at record lows companies today face a variety of challenges with hiring the right talent for the job at the top of the list.  Companies today not only need to offer a competitive wage, top-tier benefits but they also need to build a strong employer brand that allows their employees to feel proud of where they work.  HR departments as the gate keepers for the talent pool need move as quickly as possible to ensure that the hiring process does not get side-tracked.  Many companies will lose excellent candidates because of a very slow hiring process.  Key to the hiring of staff in key positions is the process of thinking beyond the current job that is being filled.  Do your candidates have strong critical thinking skills, exceptional communication attributes and high ethical standards?  These are the questions HR professionals need to evaluate when considering the candidates qualifications.  Also, the candidates are not only applying for the current position that they are applying for but also for their next job.

Improve the Company’s Bench Strength at the Management Level

Executives today are uneasy about their organizational leaders’ ability to manage unexpected challenges.  There is a lot at stake as new managers already have a high rate of failure in the first 12 months of being promoted to a management role.  These leaders often have a difficult time assessing the demands of business, processing and sharing information in a timely manner and talent management.  Human Resource departments can play a pivotal role in helping these new leaders succeed in their job by offering personalized training programs targeted to their particular needs.  HR can also ensure success by developing learning programs that are skill based, that can be applied immediately and are tied to future business challenges.  As part of the process HR will also need to evaluate the gaps in leadership skills in order to determine where training is needed, necessary and applicable.  The goal for the future should be to enhance strategic and creative thinking throughout the organization so that management can focus on how to better position their company for success and ensure that there is no interruption in the talent pool.

Build a Succession Plan that is Flexible and Targeted

One of the key functions of an HR leader is to hire right, create depth in the organization and secure the company’s success by building a succession plan that is both flexible and targeted.  Succession plans are a tool to create an immediate candidate pool of qualified internal employees when a key employee departs the organization.  Succession plans should initially be developed around the C-suite staff followed by more detailed plans around key managers, supervisors and individual contributors.  The goal of “purview” or key personnel is to ensure that they receive training, developmental tools and mentoring so that they are ready to assume a bigger role when a position is identified.  The criteria for purview employees are that they need to exceed job requirements, have been with the company a minimum of 24 months and have the skills, knowledge and ability to assume a great role in the future.  These employees may be unaware that they have been targeted for development; however, HR should take an active role in their career.

By hiring the right talent from the beginning, developing employees that show promise and building succession plans that encourage internal career development through a formal program, companies will mitigate potential gaps in leadership.

Monday, August 14, 2023

How Can we Communicate More Effectively?

Recently there has been some discussion in social media as to how technology has changed the HR profession with respect to communication.  With the changes in how people work, their role vis-à-vis working remotely, along with the competitive business climate, HR departments are learning that poor communication channels are impacting the bottom line.  As HR professionals we can do three things to improve communication.

Communicate Consistently

Communication is often sporadic with conflicting messages.  While organizations attempt to share information with their employees and want their staff to be given the tools to complete their daily tasks, a lack of consistent communication is hindering their ability to be successful.  Effective communication is very important and employers must invest time and energy into building and establishing clear and consistent methods.  One of the most common communication problems in the workplace and solutions are poorly written documents, policies and procedures or announcements. Poorly written communication pieces will cause confusion, inhibit success and foster frustration amongst the employees.  To correct this challenge HR must always proofread the documents before distributing the final product.  It is also important to have the various stakeholders review and agree with content prior to its release.

Improve Internal Communication

Many companies with internal communications challenges have them because internal communication with employees can often be overlooked or seen as being less important than external communications. By keeping your employees informed from the company’s management team versus external sources (i.e., the media) confusion can be reduced and false information disseminated to the employees can be mitigated.  The easy solution is to over-communicate, do not assume that employees understand the business decisions that are made and always keep employees informed when you have a major announcement to make or have to react to bad news. Whenever possible, tell them before you tell an external audience.

Use Technology in Moderation

Organizations are utilizing internal social networks more extensively. These tools enable the sharing of information and best practices.  E-mails, instant messages, and other communications can be easily forwarded; however, messages are often not reframed for the individual or team to whom the message is directed.  This lack of customization can foster confusion and damage the credibility of the author.  Using technology to communicate is very efficient; however, it does not give the same warm feeling as being connected personally. Technology oriented connections are less meaningful and lack the human need to connect.  Organizations must understand that technology can have damaging effects. An over-reliance on technology can lead to people feeling isolated, and this can lead to challenges at work.  To take advantage of all the benefits that technology in communication offers, it is crucial to ensure that organizations implement policies and guidelines for how technology should be used to communicate.

Using the existing communication channels at your company along with conducting an employee survey to evaluate your communication challenges and successes is an easy way to assess and evaluate your strategy for the future.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Working Through a Challenging Economy?

In order to meet the current demands of an uncertain business environment Human Resources professionals are expected to be a key partner in managing change and assisting the leaders of the company by supporting changes to the organization.  As business partners, Human Resources professionals play an important role by assisting leadership in four key areas:

§   Identify, evaluate and assess the risks and rewards associated with organizational change in order to beflexible and adjust to the changes in the market and business.

§   Evaluate the current talent mix and organizational structure to determine if the current skills that the  employees possess will meet the organization’s needs in the future.

§   Communicate with the employees so that they understand what changes are needed along with explaining the timeframe and the potential outcomes.

§    Determine the success of the changes implemented and evaluate the alignment between the business,   culture and the staff. 

This article discusses these four areas of organizational change which can have a positive impact on the organization and its workforce or if not managed properly can be very detrimental to the organization.

Organizational Change

Successful transformation initiatives begin when the leaders examine the marketplace to determine what changes in their business may result in new challenges for their organization.  These challenges include new technology, new products and/or services, changes in social patterns, shifts in tax policy or demographic re-alignments.  The leaders need to evaluate the risks and rewards associated with the proposed changes to the business model and develop a strategy to adapt to the new realities. 

Current Talent Mix

Successful change takes time, which can be disruptive to the organization.   When the business changes often the current talent mix is not in alignment in order to execute this new strategy.  The Human Resources team needs to be in a position to evaluate the employees’ existing skills to determine if their skills and knowledge will meet the future needs of the organization.  Until the existing staff have the necessary skills the organization will remain vulnerable.  It is important to evaluate the staff and create a performance plan to ensure that all employees have a road map to success.  It is also important that HR holds all people accountable to ensure that these milestones for implementation and business improvement are met.  If done properly the current talent mix will be aligned with the new strategy. 

Communicating to the Employee

Frequently the decisions that are made about the organization are made at the c-suite level with the understanding  the middle management will share the changes with the rank-and-file staff.  Oftentimes, this approach while well intended, is not communicated effectively or is unclear.  Poor communication about why the changes are being implemented and the strategy hinders the successful implementation.  To mitigate poor communication, Human Resources needs to play a key role in coaching and educating the employees and middle managers about what is changing and how it will impact their job.

Determine Employee Engagement

Successful change starts with individuals, and failure will often occur because resistance to change is human nature.  Some managers are very skilled at change management; however, unfortunately, many managers are not adept at facilitating change. The lack of change management skills among managers can make change initiatives difficult to achieve.  Human Resources plays a very important role in determining where change is being embraced and where resistance is occurring.  HR can leverage those areas that are successful throughout the organization and where it is being resisted more resources and tools can be allocated to address these area’s needs.

In conclusion, successfully identifying the rewards and risks association with organization change, evaluating the current talent to determine if the organization can meet the new strategy, communicating the rationale for the changes and evaluating challenges where there are pockets of success and/or resistance will help the Human Resources department manage organization change successfully.

To learn more about the survey process please go to our website at:

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Will there be HR Generalists in the Future?

Recently there has been some discussion in social media as to the future of the HR Generalist role and is this type of position needed today?

Organizations are constantly reviewing whether to centralize their HR professionals or decentralize the Human Resources function.  There are typically three approaches regarding the structure of HR.

Decentralized:  If you have talented individuals that are resourceful, knowledgeable and are skilled in the process of explaining the HR programs and policies then the closer they are to support the business the better it is for the company.  Decentralization is the optimum approach with respect to building a partnership between HR and the business.  It is also the costliest from a budget perspective.

Blended:  If the HR staff lack the depth of experience then the goal is to train these individuals and hire “specialists” that can share their knowledge with the newer employees.  While these employees remain close to the business their lack of skill can often be an impediment to their success.  This structure also takes time to build and commitment from the leadership team is critical to maintaining this type of organizational platform

Centralized:  A centralized structure is a skilled and talented staff that are pro-active, reach out to the business units and provide sound advice from a call-center or centralized corporate office.  This approach is being used by an increasing number of companies that have 500 employees or more.  With employees becoming familiar with the self-service approach to obtain information about pay, benefits, promotions and career paths the need to have an intermediary is becoming less necessary

Today, organizations are looking for cost effective talent to support and partner with the business.  With budgets being scrutinized and HR metrics becoming an even more important part of the performance process the future of the HR Generalist, particularly in larger organizations, is very uncertain.

The future of the HR Generalist in larger companies (employers with 500 employees or more) will ultimately go away and be replaced with experts in a call center or corporate office.  The business units will only have an HR Generalist if they are willing to pay for this personalized support.  In our opinion, the business leader will determine that the HR Generalist is redundant and unnecessary.  Furthermore, the laws are changing rapidly at the state and federal level and with many companies having a global reach the need for “specialists” is even more important in today’s work environment.  The HR Generalist role is often one of sharing information that is provided by the corporate HR function anyway.  The timely sharing of information is critical to meeting the needs of the business and any follow-up action is often delayed as the skills of the HR Generalist are at times not as strong as the specialist.  This requires that the HR Generalist reach out repeatedly to the skilled expert in the corporate office to obtain clarification.  This takes time and costs the organization additional expense.

The future of the HR Generalist in smaller companies (employers with 499 employees or less) is a very different story.  These skilled professionals will continue to be relied upon, typically report to the CEO or COO and have significant influence on the organization.  They will also have between 3 and 5 subordinates who provide specialized services to the company.  Further career opportunities in this area will continue to grow and expand.

To learn more about what is best for your company Human Resource departments are often conducting employee surveys to evaluate department performance, establish year-over-year metrics, review the success or failure of the established programs and policies and finally how to best meet the needs of the organization and staff.  Consider conducting an employee survey to discover what your employees are thinking.

Monday, June 27, 2022

What will HR Professionals Experience in the Future?

HR professionals will face significant changes in their role at over the next several years.  Four changes are in the immediate future for HR leaders. Let us take a look at those areas that will impact Human Resource leaders:

1.  The use of digital data collection will result in the HR department migrating from a labor-intensive area to a specialized function where employee self-service will be the result.   Fewer managerial positions along with support staff will be the end result.  HR leaders will need to do more with less staff; however, the approval to automate and outsource as many functional areas will be encouraged and is an anticipated trend.

2.  HR will play a broader role in supporting the vision of the Board and leaders of the company.  Metrics to evaluate performance, talent management, retention and employee satisfaction and engagement will become a focus of company leaders as they look to leverage their successes and minimize their business challenges.  HR leaders will need to find new ways to evaluate company and talent performance that is numbers driven with less subjectivity.  Increased respect for the profession has resulted in higher expectations for the future.

3.  The use of outsourcing to meet the gaps in staffing will be employed and expanded in roles where on-staff employment was typical.  Addressing the issue of turnover, employee satisfaction, pay-practices and overall employee engagement will play an important role to meet the on-going labor demands of organizations.

4.  HR accountability will result in Human Resources demonstrating through their actions, that employees will be treated fairly and honestly.  Consistent application of the prevailing policies will require that HR conduct a periodic review of the compensation practices to determine that those employees that are exhibiting excellence receive the larger merit increase, auditing the promotional opportunities to ensure that only those employees that are excelling in their jobs are receiving new job opportunities.  Finally, HR will need to confirm that the learning programs offered to the staff are made available to all employees and not only those that are performing at a peak level.

In conclusion, HR professionals today face extraordinary challenges with respect to managing the business and at the same time meeting the needs of their employees.  Human Resources leaders need to take the long-term perspective and adapt to the changes anticipated in the future.

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