Innovative HR Solutions, LLC

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Talent Retention in a Tight Job Market: Building Your Company Brand

With the current US nationwide unemployment rate at 4.7% employers are scrambling to recognize high performers and retain talent.  While it is important to have a compensation program that is progressive, benefit plans that are aligned with the employee needs and a work environment that is supportive, companies are finding out that that is often not enough.  In an economy where attracting and retaining talent is a key challenge facing organizations a coordinated and thoughtful strategy needs to be implemented in order to ensure success.  Companies today should be asking their leaders and HR professionals what steps can be taken to be strategically positioned to leverage their brand and internal talent to support lower turnover and improve productivity.
Consider these three key components that support a quality company brand that encourages excellence:
Building a Strategic Plan
In order to develop an effective brand, there needs to be a strategic plan based upon the values of the organization.  Executives need to understand that a brand is not only the pay, benefits and work environment but it is also the core values that are the underpinnings of the company culture.   It is important for the leadership team to examine the brand and determine what the company wants to be known for and then reinforce this perception to improve the company’s strategic position.   Ultimately as HR professionals you want to capitalize on what makes your brand unique, and build from there.  It is important to take a critical look at your current brand and define what you want to be known for when a potential employee thinks of your company.  An important component of this part of the process is - what is the ideal perception you want to convey in the market-place. 
Implement Your Plan Base Upon Your Values
Once you’ve developed your strategic brand, how you choose to implement that strategy is  very important. In fact, just because you want your company to be perceived in a particular manner, doesn’t mean that it will be perceived that way.  The best brands are often the ones that live up to or exceed their reputation and are able to develop a brand strategy that is constructed of four pillars of success:  honesty, integrity, quality and trust.  Trust is the most important factor to ensure that your brand strategy remains aligned and intact.  Trusting a company’s product or service will have a long-term effect and improve future prospects.  If your  company is viewed as an honest, responsible and  a trustworthy organization potential candidates may select your company over another employer because the brand will provide a better career experience for them.
Sharing the Brand
Perhaps the most important way to communicate your brand strategy to potential candidates is to have your current employees champion the benefits of working for the company.  Encourage current employees to share their experiences and showcase how your brand and company is separated from the competition.  You will discover that there will be those engaged employees with a desire to highlight the company  culture and spearhead ideas that can help bring to life your employer brand. By empowering these individuals, you’ve created an advocacy program that has far reaching effects both internally and externally.
Ultimately building a strong brand strategy takes time and a serious commitment to understanding what your company represents and the talent it wishes to attract. By taking the time to examine the issue, a company can develop a brand that no longer struggles to attract and retain talent, but draws in those that are aligned both strategically and culturally with the company.


Monday, December 18, 2017

New Year – New Goals what Needs to Happen in 2018?

As the budget process for many companies draws to a close, HR professionals have to prioritized their initiatives for 2018 and assign budget dollars to ensure that their initiatives occur.  Three important HR initiatives are  critical in order to meet the needs of the organization and the employees over the next twelve months.

Compensation Planning

With unemployment currently at 4.1% in the United States many Americans are enjoying the benefits of working in a rewarding position.  However, a limited pool of qualified talent increases competition both in the private and public sectors.  This in turn challenges those HR professionals that are in a compensation planning and design role.  Retaining talent will be a increasing challenge over the next year and without the compensation team evaluating the salary ranges to ensure that benchmark positions are at market, higher turnover maybe the result.  While some organizations view compensation planning as an annual event handled through the merit increase program most progressive companies view the management of direct pay, commission, bonus and incentive programs as an on-going process in order to support the company.  The addition of either a compensation professional or the outsourcing of this type of service is critical for organizations to maintain a competitive pay structure.  Ensuring that the merit increase budget supports an aggressive pay plan along with additional dollars to reward performance is a key responsibility for the Human Resources department.

Professional Development

General employee satisfaction is often determined by how and what employees are learning on the job either through “on the job” training or coordinated professional development activities.   Typically, satisfied employees are more successful in meeting the goals of the company if they are being challenged and are learning new tasks.  Not only is some training mandated by law but HR professionals need to budget for more targeted training in order to support the development needs of the staff.  HR professionals will need to determine what training is needed at their company through a needs analysis.  This process will ensure that employees are provided with the necessary skills and sufficiently trained in order to be productive.  When budgets are tight training will often be the first line item to be eliminated which sends the wrong message to the staff and is often not in the best interest in the company.

HR Infrastructure Upgrades

Continually improving the technology and the company’s infrastructure will often times improve morale, tend to produce greater financial results and will send the message that the leaders of the company are investing in the future of the company.  An annual audit of key indicators to determine where technology and infrastructure improvements are needed will help the leaders of the organization set priorities and allocate financial resources in order to improve the business.  This audit will also set forth a road map for the employees and the leaders to communicate the expectations and goals for the future.  The planning for and the budgeting of these key improvements will assist in holding key leaders accountable and assist the employees in understanding what the long-term goals of the organization are.
Human Resource professionals must prioritized their initiatives and allocate a reasonable budget to ensure that three key initiatives are in place for 2018.  These include an aggressive compensation program to retain talent, on-going professional development to challenge the staff and improved skills and HR infrastructure upgrades to monitor technology improvements and where appropriate allocate the budget for capital improvement.  HR professionals need to prioritize and promote these three key process improvements and if done properly a budget will include these initiatives for 2018.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What are the Three Pillars of Employee Success?

Over the years technology has profoundly shaped the Human Resources profession.  Today, with the internet the collection of timely and accurate survey data is not only available to large companies but also too small to mid-size organizations that want to evaluate and assess the pulse of their organization.  With this new technology there are several reasons to survey employees and if clients use the three pillars of employee success to shape their human capital program success will be on the horizon.  The three pillars are importance, satisfaction and engagement.  Each of these three pillars is discussed in detail below.


Employee surveys assist management in determining the importance of the programs and policies at the company and support by the employees for these established programs and policies.  Surveys provide the data that will determine how important or unimportant they are to the staff.  A misalignment can lead to programs that are not targeted, value-added or desired by the staff.  Evaluating the importance of these programs will help ensure  that the alignment of these polices compliment the core values of the company.


General satisfaction and high levels of morale determine how fulfilled, happy and content employees are.  Typically, satisfied employees are more successful in meeting their professional needs at work and the goals of the company.  Furthermore, high levels of employee success in achieving the agreed upon goals and objectives will lead to higher-performing organizations.  Satisfied employees are more productive and customer focused whereas low levels of satisfaction can lead to less productivity and dysfunction among work teams.


Engaged employees are more productive, customer focused and have a heightened connection to their job.  They also care about the future of the company and are willing to invest time, energy and effort to support the strategic direction, vision and mission of the company.  Engaged employees will also tend to produce greater results and will remain with the company longer.  Organizations possessing high levels of engagement are also more likely to be financially successful.   Employee engagement with the business is a key driver of business success.  Disengaged employees require more of your time to coach, manage, counsel and hold them accountable.

What makes a company successful in today’s work environment can be summarized by following the three pillars to employee success.  Employees want managers who are good listeners and support effective employee management relations.  They also want opportunities for advancement that will lead to a compensation program that recognizes excellence on the job and finally, they want to work for a company that functions effectively where employees play a key role in the decision making process and are respected by their community.


Friday, July 28, 2017

What Needs to Happen in 2017 to Make Your Organization Successful?

One of management’s key duties and responsibilities is challenging, motivating and retaining staff.  Three metrics of employee engagement need to be implemented in the near term for progressive organizations to remain competitive in the future:

  • Align employees work with the strategic vision and company goals as outlined by the leadership team.  This can be accomplished by ensuring that the corporate goals are communicated, and incorporated into each employee’s performance plan. Research has shown that employees that buy into the vision, values and strategic vision of the company will support the company in the future. 
  • Hold employees accountable by constantly demonstrating through management’s actions that employees will be treated fairly and honestly along with the consistent application of the prevailing policies.  To determine if policies are consistently being applied evaluate your compensation practices to determine if those employees that are demonstrating excellence receive the larger merit increase.  Evaluate promotions and transfers to determine if only those employees that are excelling in their jobs are receiving new job opportunities.  Finally, evaluate the learning opportunities made available to the staff to ensure that all employees are eligible for external training and development and not only those that are performing at a peak level. 
  • Evaluate the decision making processes to ensure that all employees share in decision making process.  Typically, the employees that “do the work” are those that should be recommending ideas to improve work-flow.  Employees should feel comfortable recommending changes to the existing processes.  At times, failure will be the result but with failure comes knowledge and success.  Employees are more likely to accept and carry out decisions if they're involved in the process.
Using these three metrics will assist you as you start to establish metrics for the remainder of 2017.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Why is Aligning Your Business with a Human Capital Strategy Important?

Today, businesses that are successful have a strategic direction that is aligned with the employees to create a synergy between the business and talent.  Along with the effective execution of the business plan and strategy there are four key models that make a company successful.  These conditions, if met can put a company on the path to success.

Company Culture

Companies that are successful have a strong culture that is inclusive, collaborative, challenging and respectful.  A culture that encompasses these attributes will result in employees that are engaged, motivated, demonstrate high levels of performance and productivity.

Executive Leadership

Successful leaders are dependent upon a team approach that is communicative, supportive, engaged and holds their direct reports accountable for their decisions.  Leaders need to be developed and constantly challenged to ensure that the company continually innovates.  The leaders of the company also need to maintain the highest ethical standards as they set the tone for the organization and represent the company to the community.

Employee Talent Management

With technology changing the potential for a gap between the skill set and the new requirements of the job can develop into a talent management gap.  Employees need to be continually developed, mentored and given the opportunity to enrich one’s job is very important to the success of the company.

Corporate Structure

A corporate structure and understood by all employees is often more productive and responsive to the customer.  A structure that groups the business based upon client and customer relationships will often produce the best results by meeting the customer’s needs quickly and efficiently.

In conclusion, developing a strategy that aligns the leadership team with the employees, a culture that supports progressive talent development and a culture and structure that is understood by all supports a progressive business model.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What Happened in 2016: The Year in Review and How Employee Satisfaction and Engagement Changed

As we begin 2017, it is important that we learn from the past so that the business decisions we make in the future are based upon facts and data in order to develop a coordinated strategy.  One of HR’s goals over the past year has been to retain talent as well as look for alternative ways to respond to the current business challenges.  Preserving our company’s competitive edge by retaining our high performers along through the use of HR metrics will allow us to be better positioned for the future.

HR Metrics

The Human Resource profession over the past decade has become much more sophisticated by utilizing metrics to examine employee trends in order to better anticipate future challenges and opportunities.  When we use HR metrics and evaluate historical patterns we are better able to respond to the challenges we face on the job.  A key challenge is determining if our reward and benefit dollars are being used wisely.  Metrics are a common measurement across all professions and are used as a way to retain, challenge talent and hold people accountable.  One key metric that is being used by thousands of HR professionals is the employee survey.  The analysis and subsequent data following a survey is a key tool in determining employee satisfaction, management effectiveness and employee engagement.  With so many people looking for that next opportunity, retention of a company’s employees is often critical to its survival.  Understanding and responding to these employees’ concerns and questions are important components in ensuring that success. 

Survey Methodology

For the purpose of this analysis respondents completed an on-line survey consisting of questions about their jobs, executive leadership, staff development, core values, compensation and benefits and management at their organization.  The number of statements from each company ranges from 15 to over 150. The number of respondents from each company ranges from a minimum of 100 to well over 2,500.  Using the Likert scale (from 1.00 to 5.00) the levels of employee satisfaction are as follows:

Employee Satisfaction Levels
3.91 to 5.00
3.70 to 3.90
3.50 to 3.69
3.00 to 3.49
1.00 to 2.99

Normative Data

Using normative data is important for clients as this information serves as a benchmark which allows a company to compare their own mean scores with the client base.  Normative scores are updated continuously and, due to the size of our database, we can utilize an 99.9% confidence interval, resulting in a margin of error of + .01.  This means that our clients have a high level of confidence in the data they receive.  In the past, clients have often requested that we create norms that would provide a benchmark against their industry or region in the country. Today, however, we have begun to see a shift from benchmarking within one's own industry toward benchmarking against other “best places to work”. This is particularly true with regard to benchmarking in the areas of organizational climate, culture, engagement, management and leadership.

This review is based on data collected from over 70,000 working individuals from organizations representing a broad cross-section of industries and regions of the country. All data is effective as of December 31, 2016.

Areas of Employee Satisfaction

In general, employees are satisfied with their jobs.  Employees appreciate that management is operating the business efficiently, often under conditions of uncertainty and with tight resources.  For a complete review by functional area as it relates to satisfaction levels please see the chart below:
Employee Management Relations
With respect to employee management relations, employees gave this area a satisfaction rating of 3.89 or moderate levels of satisfaction. The great majority of employees believe that their manager will listen to their point of view and assist them in growing professionally.   In addition, the survey results indicate that management treats and respects all individuals, diversity is encouraged and has become a part of the corporate culture.
Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction was another highly-rated area achieving a satisfaction rating of 3.83 or moderate levels of satisfaction.  A high percentage of employees enjoy the work they do, are challenged and feel a strong sense of accomplishment in their position.  They believe that they can make a contribution and want to be a part of making their company successful.
Career Opportunities
A majority of employees indicated that they feel they have a career with their organization and that they work well as a team.  They support their co-workers in their department by sharing information and offering advice. Career Opportunities received a 3.76 satisfaction rating or moderate levels of satisfaction.  Our respondents however want to experience more internal opportunities and career paths that offer them challenges as well as more financial growth.
Core Values
The survey responses focusing on the mission, vision and values of the organization received a 3.95 or high levels of satisfaction.  This response would suggest that employees understand the importance of supporting the strategic mission of their organization.
Staff Development
According to the survey data, employees understand how important customer satisfaction is to maintaining the financial health of their company.  Employees value strong customer relations and recognize that only by satisfying the customer will the organization be successful.  The module satisfaction rating for this functional area was 3.56 or neutral levels of satisfaction.  Many respondents believe that the learning opportunities at their company have declined over the past several years.  A recommitment to learning, along with a more formal training program that will equip employees to successfully carry out the requirements of their present and future job roles will need to be a strong consideration for the future.  The survey data suggests that employees believe that as technology changes, and as new management techniques are required, organizations will need to offer additional support to help them meet these new challenges. Clearly the lack of training is an area of concern for progressive employers.
Opportunities for Improvement
It is anticipated that Human Resources will face tremendous challenges in three key areas as the economy continues to grow. These areas include compensating employees fairly, ensuring that communication flows freely throughout the organization and providing employees with the training necessary to ensure their competency in the future.
Fair Compensation
Employees rated fair compensation the lowest of all areas surveyed; this area received a satisfaction rating of 3.34 or low levels of satisfaction.  This value indicates low levels of satisfaction with the pay and rewards programs.  Employees feel the financial pressures and at the same time they believe they are not compensated at a level commensurate with their duties and responsibilities. Over the next twelve months employees will desire additional compensation and/or look for new opportunities.
Effective Communication
Communication is an issue for a majority of companies. Effective communication was rated low with a satisfaction rating of 3.42 or low levels of satisfaction. Employees are requesting more information about the new products and services offered by their company as well as management’s clarification of the organization’s vision and prospects for growth.  Employees would also like to have more advance notice of activities occurring at their organization and receive information about changes and strategic decisions that affect them in a timelier manner.  Respondents very often do not believe that other departments are keeping them informed about key projects that are under consideration or have been approved.  An improvement in communication is critical to ensure the success of a company.
What is Important to Employees
Understanding what is important to employees is critical for the Human Resource professional. The data suggests that progressive compensation practices are a key indicator of a productive organization.  Employees understand that career opportunities are dependent on the economy and how their company is positioned for the future.  Ensuring that a company’s compensation program remains competitive is an important issue that employers will need to address in the near term, especially in circumstances where employees’ workloads and responsibilities have increased due to reduced staffing levels in selected industries.  Using a 1 - 100% scale, a complete review of functional areas that are important to employees are illustrated in the chart below:
Opportunities for Improvement
It is anticipated that Human Resources will face tremendous challenges in three key areas as the economy continues to grow and expand. These areas include compensating employees fairly, ensuring that teamwork and collaboration are consistently practiced throughout the organization and that managers are skilled mentors to help provide coaching and career suggestions to their employees.
Fair Compensation
Compensation is valued by employees at an 84.7% rating.  This rating suggests that as the economy expands employers will need to respond to the pressure from their staff to increase merit pay or they may see a rise in turnover due to poor pay practices.
Building Teamwork
The data suggests that over the past several years teamwork has become more important to employees.  Enhancing and maintaining teamwork is critical to retaining talent.  Teamwork is valued by employees at an 83.8% rating.  This rating suggests that management will need to focus on team building activities to better support both the internal and external the customer.
Employee Management Relations
The data suggests that managers play a critical role in supporting their subordinates.  Enhancing and maintaining a strong partnership is critical to retaining talent.  Strong and skilled managers are valued by employees at an 84.8% rating.  This rating suggests that management will need to continue to develop skilled managers to act as a coach and mentor.
In conclusion, employers today face extraordinary challenges with respect to managing the business and at the same time meeting the needs of their employees.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What Makes and Effective Team?

We recently completed an employee engagement survey for a hi-tech client and after evaluating the survey results five key findings surfaced.  The respondents indicated that they wanted more transparency from the leadership team along with more timely decisions.  The respondents also indicated that they were looking for more responsibility, an improvement in communication and, finally, a work environment that is more engaging and team oriented.  So. let’s delve deeper into the detailed results.
The survey respondents indicated that the leadership team needed to be more transparent and open with the employees.  A business is a reflection of the leaders of the organization, and if the leaders ensure transparency, the team will mirror this value.  Honesty was determined to be a key value of the company, and if practiced more consistently, the result will be an effective better functioning team that trusts and believes in the executives.
Timely Decisions
Good leaders are creative, innovative, flexible and decisive; however, decisions-makers may be forced at times to deviate from the set course and make a decision without all of the information.  It is during these critical situations that the team will need to look for guidance, evaluate the data and reach a decision that is the best given the available data.  The survey respondents indicated that the decision making process was often too protracted.  The leaders were afraid of making decisions and were risk adverse.  Some risk is acceptable and the respondents, including the leaders of the company, determined that decisions needed to be more timely even if the information was incomplete.
Ability to Delegate
Trusting the team and learning to delegate to subordinates are an important signs of strength, not weakness. Delegating tasks to department managers and individual contributors is one of the most important skills a leader needs to have.  The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of the team, and capitalizing on those strengths and hold each team member accountable for their decisions.  This will prove to your team that as a leader you trust and believe in them and are fair.  The survey results indicated that the respondents wanted to have more responsibility and management needed to learn to delegate more, provided that decision-making parameters were established and properly communicated.
Being a Good Communicator
Being a good communicator is critical to all leaders in a growing organization.  Knowing what you want accomplished and explaining the company’s vision for the future to the team are extremely important.  The survey results indicated that the leaders lacked the ability to communicate the vision and strategy.  Healthy lines of communication were also determined to be poor.  The respondents requested that management establish an all-hands meeting, newsletters, webinars and state-of-the-company presentations to improve communication.  Communication is also managing by walking around and creating an open door policy.  Making it a point to talk to the employees on a daily basis was determined to build trust and keep the leaders in the loop.  The results also indicated that the company executives need to make themselves available to discuss the strategic as well as tactical issues.
Having a Sense of Humor
Because the respondents spend so much time at work the survey results indicated that they want to be a part of a company that can “work-hard and play-hard”.  Challenges happen all the time in business.  A client may go elsewhere, the company website goes down, the telephone lines to customer service are interrupted or the company’s line of credit is not extended.  Guiding the team through these or any challenges without panicking and with a sense of purpose is as important as tackling the underlining reasons why a particular event occurred. It was determined that having a sense of humor will pay off as it will allow the team to laugh at the mistakes and learn from them.  Good leaders are successful in building a team, encouraging healthy discussions and learning from the daily business challenges.
In Conclusion
The employee survey results were communicated to the employees and action plans were developed and are currently being implemented.  The leaders of the company made a commitment to ensure transparency in the process, be inclusive and maintain on-going communication.  They also agreed to establish accountability measures for improvement by evaluating the progress made over the next survey cycle.  This initiative was truly a team effort regardless of level in the organization.
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