Innovative HR Solutions, LLC

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

What is the Process for Implementing Alternative Work Arrangements?

Some employees worked on-site during the pandemic, some have returned to the office; however, for those still planning their return, developing a strategy is critical to ensure success and the safety of all staff.  All successful programs require planning and a strategy to understand the changes in the workplace. Employers will need to communicate to employees whether they will return to the workplace every workday or have a flexible schedule.  A three-step approach as outlined below will help employers return their staff successfully.

Communicate the Flexible Work Schedule Policy

Following the drafting and approval of a flexible work policy employees will need to be informed as to what will be required of them upon their return.  A policy explaining the employer’s approach with respect to vaccinations, mask-wearing, frequent handwashing, travel precautions and a procedure for informing management of compliance issues will need to documented and then communicated to the employees.  A procedure for rectifying non-compliance should also be explored and shared with the returning employees.  Once approved, the Employee Handbook should be modified to include this new policy so that all team members are aware of the changes.

Obtain Employee Support for the New Work Schedule Policy

Whether returning to in-person work, adopting a hybrid work arrangement or allowing some staff to continue to work remotely, an employer should be able to clearly explain to its workforce the new work schedule policy, the rationale behind the policy and why some employee classifications may have more job flexibility than others.  Explaining the policy clearly will eliminate any misunderstanding or perceptions of favoritism.  Clearly articulating that working remotely is a privilege and if someone is not performing or is needed in the office, either part time or full time a change in the work schedule may be the result.

Check Understanding

While employees across the world have become accustomed to working from home or remotely, company culture and employee collaboration are essential to the success of all businesses.  This means that in many organizations, employees need to be in the workplace at least some of the time to support their colleagues, learn new skills and continue to be engaged.  It is very important that employers be very clear about both the expectations and the consequences for failing to adhere to the policy.  The best practice is to make these expectations consistent for groups of similar employees.  One of the best ways to ensure adherence to the policy is to check in with your employees.  Have regularly scheduled meetings to touch base, identify challenges and offer support.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

What are some Hints from a Survey Expert?

Over the past two years business in the United States has changed dramatically.  We have gone from exceptionally low levels of unemployment to a work environment where 40+ million Americans filed for unemployment insurance only to see a turnaround occur with once again low unemployment and a job market that is exceptionally tight.  Business failures and constant chaos were the rule; however, some semblance of what the new normal is starting to come into focus.

 During this time HR has played a unique role in developing polices to meet this challenge and as a profession we will need to adapt in order to continue to play a strategic role.  One area that will remain a challenge is with so many employees working remotely communication is a concern.  Improving communication and providing feedback through a targeted survey to employees can be and excellent way to guarantee that your work forces remain connected, engaged and productive.  Outlined below are several ideas for you to consider whether a survey is right for you.

Is a Survey Right for Your Organization?

Before you consider conducting a survey verify that your leadership team supports this type of initiative and is open to change.  If you believe you are ready, several ways to market the survey to the executive team to gain their support are as follows:

n  Your organization encourages accountability.

n  Your company is experiencing high turnover.

n  Your company recently completed a merger, acquisition, or divestiture.

n  You want to evaluate the climate of the organization.

n  You are looking to modify or enhance your policies and want to obtain feedback.

n  You believe in pro-active management.

What are Some of the Challenges when Conducting an Employee Survey? 

n  A survey takes time and effort on your part.

n  The company must be willing to act upon the results.

n  Your company culture must be open to change.

n  A survey is an on-going process 

What do You Hope to Gain By Conducting an Employee Survey?

Employee communication, while always a challenge, will need to be further enhanced to make sure that managers are successfully supervising their staff.  A survey will help you:

n  Identify company-wide issues.

n  Create a process that drives change.

n  Be a role model for others to follow.

n  Champion programs and policies that are important to the employees.

n  Encourage a work environment that is supportive and professional.

n  Support engagement based upon the core values of the company.

 How Can HR Implement a Successful Survey?

While the current business challenges are many, human ingenuity and the resourcefulness of the Human Resources professional has not changed.  A successful survey process involves meeting regularly with employees to communicate the company’s policies, procedures, strategy and vision for the future.  At the same time a survey gives the employee's an opportunity to provide anonymous feedback.  You will also be able re-measure your HR programs to ensure employee satisfaction and engagement are being met.  Creating action plans as a framework when changes in strategy are necessary will also hold management accountable.  Taking swift action to implement best practices will also demonstrate HR’s commitment to the long-term success of your organization.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Why is Employee Engagement so Critical to an Employer’s Success?

With the improvement in HR metrics comes increased competition, additional data and more information available to employees.  The engagement of employees and the reduction of turnover is very important for companies today and in the future.  An engaged workforce will assist companies in remaining competitive and productive.  Key elements of employee engagement are found in three main drivers of success.  These include:

Strong Employee/Management Relations:  An important driver of employee engagement is the individual employee’s relationship to their manger.  Is their manager supportive, an effective coach, honest and represents the high ethical values of the organization?   A manager that embodies these key elements will be a partner with the employee and secure their engagement.

Effective Communication:  Understanding how the company operates and the strategy for the future will allow the employee to become more engaged in the success of the organization by understanding where the company wants to be in the future.  Effective communication includes sharing the business plan and strategy, new products, financial performance and the vision for the future.

Job Satisfaction:  When employees at different levels in the organization enjoy the job and view their role at the company as challenging and contributing to the success of the company engaged employees are more included to give 110%, look for new ideas and be more creative.

Clearly, employee engagement is an important tool for the leaders of companies today to embrace and support.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Why is Conducting an On-boarding Survey So Important?

Research over the past 30 years has found that employee dissatisfaction is related to important organizational challenges, which can lead to absenteeism, turnover and work-related injuries.  Many current studies have identified that there is a direct correlation between an engaged employee and a satisfied customer and the end result is improved organizational implementation, employee satisfaction, enhanced customer service and financial performance

On-boarding surveys, originally introduced into organizations in the late 1990’s, were developed to measure employee job satisfaction.  Employers wanted to know how satisfied their new employees were because satisfied workers are more productive workers.  According to the Society of Human Resource Management 81% of all employers surveyed conduct some form of on-boarding survey.  Managers have realized that today they can ask employees about a broad range of important issues such as leadership, benefits, job satisfaction and compensation to name a few.  With this information, organizations can fine-tune their new hire communication strategies, work to increase employee buy-in and even decide to modify corporate policies.  There is a body of research which suggest that organizations that are in tune with their new employees can motivate them to do a better job and enhance the work environment for all.  An effective on-boarding process provides the means for linking employee behavior with company success.

Employee onboarding survey questions are crucial for improving your company’s onboarding process and it is recommended that progressive organizations implement onboarding surveys at the end of the first and sixth month of the new employee’s time at your company.  This type of employee survey can assist organizations understand where the challenges exist and take corrective action to improve the new hire experience.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Is Aligning Your Culture with Your Employees Important?

The culture of any company is the cement that holds the organization together.  A culture that is effectively integrated into the company, where all employees are held accountable for its adherence, along with a rewards program that supports the agreed upon culture will add value to the company.   A fractured culture erodes confidence in the products and services a company sells and can lead to serious long-term challenges for the HR professional and leadership team.

HR professionals should consider implementing these three recommendations to support the successful implementation of a culture based upon the mission statement of the company, the values of the organization and the strategic vision of the leadership team.

Communicate Your Mission to the Employees

Creating a cohesive organization based upon shared values will allow your employees to be make the transition from just viewing their role as just a job to a career with the organization.  The value of examining your company’s mission statement will ensure that the mission is aligned with reality and current practices.  Communicating the agreed upon mission statement to employees, customers, vendors and shareholders will ensure that all stakeholders subscribe to these principles.   

Hold Managers Accountable for Living the Company Values

An increase in stakeholder loyalty can boost profits and productivity; however, this is predicated upon the managers and the leaders of the organization being held accounting for “living the values” of the company.  Research has shown that ethical managers that communicate these shared values will lead to greater profitability and growth.   According the Gallup Business Journal (June, 2013) work units in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by 10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity

Employers today want to understand how they can secure more support from their employees.  On-going management and accountability based upon the vision, mission and vision will make it easier for the HR professional and the leadership team to determine how to best execute the strategy for the future.

Tie Pay and Performance to the Adherence of the Agreed Upon Values 

We all know that what gets measured gets managed with success.  Performance reviews are a great tool to tie the successful communication of the mission with the success of the leaders.  If the executive team has a vested interest in the process and are measured on their success of tying their decisions to the published values; this measurement will add accountability to the process.  While tying pay, accountability and performance is not a guarantee of success the outcome with be more probable.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

How Can HR Metrics Help Me as We Come Out from the Pandemic Bunker?

We all know that the past year and one-half has been very challenging.  All of have experienced various levels of stress in response to our company’s decisions as a result of COVID.  Some of us experienced working remotely, reductions in staff resulting in colleagues losing their jobs, budget cuts, a stronger focus on expense control, health issues and loss.  The reevaluation of organizational objectives has led to greater stress on the job along with the need to make very difficult Human Resource decisions.  As a profession, we are also learning that understanding our business, partnering with the leaders within our industry and changing our tactics is critical to our remaining relevant.

Once again we need to re-adjust our approach as the paradigm has shifted from retrenchment to expansion.  Preserving our company’s competitive edge by retaining our high performers along with the use of HR metrics will allow us to be better positioned as the recovery continues.  As HR professionals one of our goals for the remainder of 2021 and beyond will be to attract and retain talent by looking for alternative ways to respond to the current business climate, offer our employees value, a healthy work environment and provide management with the support to make quality business decisions.

The Human Resource profession has become very 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 today.  A key challenge for the future will be determining if, as the work environment changes, as a result of the pandemic, will our businesses continue to evolve or return to the way it was in pre-pandemic times.  Metrics are a common measurement across all professions and are used as a way to quantify data.  The analysis and subsequent data following an employee survey is a key tool in determining employee satisfaction, engagement and management effectiveness.  As companies start the process of bringing employees back to office data metrics will become even more important.  Understanding and responding to these employees’ concerns and questions are important components in ensuring success.

Today, employees are generally satisfied with their jobs.  Employees appreciate that management is operating the business efficiently, often under conditions of uncertainty and with limited resources.  Employees also believe that opportunities for advancement will occur as long as performance is maintained.  Key challenges for the future in a post-pandemic world include:

n  Expanding communication initiatives to ensure that the employees are informed of changes at work. 

n  Maintaining effective employee management relations through accountability measures.

n  Ensuring that a team environment is supported and encouraged.

n  Maintaining a progressive compensation program.

n  Supporting a leadership team that is decisive.

n  Opportunities for career advancement in an ever-tightening job market.

n  Benefit programs that offer security and protection for the employee and eligible dependents.

Human Resources for the remainder of 2021 and beyond will need to be flexible, source and retain talent by looking for alternative ways to respond to the current business climate.  Management will support this goal through the use of HR metrics.

Friday, April 23, 2021

What are the Top Five HR Challenges that Leaders are Managing Due to COVID?

As a result of the on-going pandemic leaders of many organizations are struggling to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of their employees. Based upon survey data, outlined below are five challenges that managers are facing today along with recommendations to address these demands.

Managing Remote Work

Managers in pre-COVID times were able to walk down the hall to meet with their staff, support their efforts and provide their subordinates with task direction.  With the need to offer employees a safe work environment many employers determined that employees needed to work from home.  Working from home created an environment where structure was often lacking, IT support limited, and business practices were imperfect.  Managers and leaders of organizations over the past 14 months have learned that responding to the needs of the employees swiftly along with providing support to make this transition as easy as possible needed to occur.  What this means is that when employees reach out for assistance, managers need to respond with an action-oriented plan.  Whether it is dealing with a systems issue, customer support or logistics challenges managers need to respond and rectify any issues.

Ensuring Effective Employee Communication

Communication during the best of times has always been a significant handicap for many employers.  With many employees working remotely communication is not as effective nor as complete as it needs to be.  Communication with employees working from home is often one-way, not consultive or as collaborative as is necessary.  While efficiency and the use of technology (Teams, WebEx and Zoom) are valuable tools they do not replace one-on-one conversations with the staff.  Often times these tools are used to communicate tasks and strategy but not individual work challenges.  Managers need to ensure that their subordinates have quality one-on-one time to address specifical work issues and impediments to success.  The ability to walk down the hall and obtain direction will at some point return; however, in the interim managers need to carve out time for direct communication with their staff.

Job Uncertainty:

One of the consequences of the pandemic has been the loss of job stability and security.  Initially, millions of employees lost their job, the social and financial safety net was lacking, and government programs were stretched to the maximum.  Over the past 14 months many employees have returned to their old jobs; however, many remain unemployed, and their job has been eliminated or their employer has ceased to exist.  A manager’s role during this uncertain time is to reassure their staff, be transparent in financial health of the organization and explain to the employees what their role currently is and how their job might change in the future.  Honesty and sincerity are critical to alleviating an employee’s fear of job insecurity.

Workforce Wellbeing

The sudden shift in work culture over the past year has taken a tremendous toll on the employee’s overall health and wellbeing.  The social aspect of work, ability to share business and personal challenges with colleagues has been replaced by on-line meetings that lack an exchange of support and empathy.  Employees feel less inclined to share their successes and challenges when the format is not conducive to maintaining privacy.  Managers need to check in with their staff to find out what is happening not only on the work front but also on the personal side.  Find out how the employees is handling their isolation from their co-workers, have they experienced any issues around “loss” or illness.  Managers need to be prepared to provide resources to their staff to address any health or wellbeing issues. 

Employee Engagement:

Engaged employees are committed to their organization’s goals and values, they are motivated to contribute to organizational success, and are able at the same time to further enhance their own sense of purpose.  With employees working remotely, insufficient communication tools, job insecurity, workforce wellbeing issues; and employee engagement has suffered.  While some industries have flourished and grown over the past 14 months, many employees have experienced a significant disconnect between their support for the company and their colleagues.  Managers need to make a concerted effort to work with staff to listen, address and resolve their challenges.  Mangers will also need to address the topic of when “normalcy” returns what do employees envision as their work environment of the future.  Engage employees to determine how they want to work in the future.  Do they want to return to the office permanently, partially or intermittently?  Listening to the staff and incorporating their ideas as part of an overall policy will improve employee engagement and general support for organizational success.

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