Innovative HR Solutions, LLC

Friday, December 7, 2018

How can we Make Processes at Work Simpler and More Efficient?

As we start to look forward to the New Year now maybe a good time to review the established processes at work to see if tasks can be modified or eliminated altogether.  Process improvement focuses on streamlining established procedures, reducing costs and improving efficiency.  There are typically four ways to improve the processes at your business.

Update Your Tools and Equipment

Examine the equipment used to conduct your business along with your vendors to ensure that your business is maximizing the capital investments made and relationships fostered over the years. This includes, but is not limited to, computers, telephone systems, trucks, vans and cars, manufacturing machinery, maintenance contracts, printers and software. Older equipment malfunctions occur more often and operate less efficiently which can reduce efficiency, production and work flow. Modernizing the equipment will help mitigate down-time of equipment.  Ensuring that your vendors understand how your business has evolved over the years will also allow you to be more competitive and better aligned in your marketplace. Investing in prudent capital expenditures and enhancing your partnership with your vendors will pay off if you are able to get your product to the customer more quickly at a reduced cost.

Outsource Where Possible

Outsourcing has become synonymous with job loss for the internal staff; however, outsourcing means to transfer part of what is being done in-house to experts which in turn will free-up existing resources for other tasks being performed by your employees.  An example of out-sourcing Human Resource services includes such tasks as payroll management, short-term temporary staffing, employee survey design and analysis, company newsletters and professional development workshops.  Each of these tasks maybe performed more efficiently and be a less-expensive solution that if they were performed by an external solution.

Task Management

Tasks that are done efficiently once are often repeated because they work. This type of process inefficiency can gradually grow over time without being noticed. An illustration of this is a situation where each month reports are generated by Human Resources summarizing key staff information which is then delivered electronically to supervisors and managers in the company.  This time consuming process may not be necessary on a monthly basis but rather a quarterly or semi-annual frequency.  A better process would be to reach out to the supervisors and managers to find out what is appropriate and adjust accordingly.

Reduce Unnecessary Expenses

Cutting superfluous expenses are a proven way of maintaining efficiency. Unfortunately, when faced with a budget challenge, some small-business owners become overzealous in their cost reductions and risk sacrificing quality or good customer service. Reducing costs makes good business sense only if quality can be preserved, delivery time frames can be maintained, and customers remain satisfied.

To determine if conducting a process improvement initiative is appropriate for your business, ask yourself if a specific task needs to be modified, eliminated or could be performed more efficiently by investing in a better equipment or utilizing independent contractors or skilled vendors.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Is the Employee Engagement Survey an HR Program or a Shared Responsibility?

As a result of our firm’s type of work we interact with clients from across the country from many industries.  One common question that we hear over-and-over again is how I can make the survey process not just an HR initiative but rather a program to enhance the employee’s engagement with the company?  If HR professionals adopt this five-step approach following the survey process the engagement survey will become more successful for not only the department but the company as well:

1.   Study the survey results and initiate dialogue between managers, supervisors, teams and individual contributors to review the findings and identify priorities.  Move as quickly as possible from dialogue to action planning, encouraging individual, team and collective ownership of the process at all levels.

2.   Determine three to five action items at a time. They should be achievable to provide early wins in the process. Attempting to do too much at once limits success.  Using the available reporting determine areas where satisfaction and engagement are low and identify challenges.  Excellent benchmarks include previous surveys, the overall company ratings and the “market”.  Use this tool to measure your success.

3.    Ensure transparency, be inclusive and maintain ongoing communication.  Provide feedback to managers and recognize that HR is there to support and facilitate the process and not fix the problems.

4.     Establish accountability for improvement efforts and results and keep checking on your business partner’s progress.  A key way to ensure that improvement is made by aligning the survey results with the performance management process.

5.    Acknowledge and celebrate the improvements achieved as each goal or action item is brought to fruition.  Continue to stress that the achievements made are a result of good planning and the company’s commitment to make improvement.

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

Monday, August 27, 2018

What is on the Horizon for 2019 and Beyond - Employee Satisfaction?

As we begin to look to 2019 it is very important that we learn from the past so that the business decisions we make in the future are based upon facts and a coordinated strategy.  We all know that 2018 has been  a challenging year. Some of us experienced difficulty in finding quality talent to fill open positions, higher than expected turnover, a stronger focus on expense management and the reevaluation of organizational objectives all have led to greater stress on the job.  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 for the future.

As a result of technology, the Human Resource profession is becoming 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 business challenges.  Metrics are a common measurement across all professions and are used as a way to 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, engagement and management effectiveness.  Understanding and responding to employees’ concerns and questions are important components in ensuring success. 

Using normative data is important for our 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 85,000+ working individuals from organizations representing a broad cross-section of industries and regions of the country

For the purpose of this analysis below 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 10 to 2,500 plus.  Our firm uses the Likert scale from 1.00 to 5.00.  The Likert Scale is a scale that equates a numerical value to a level of satisfaction.  The scale uses the following range: 1=Strongly Disagree, 2=Disagree, 3=Neutral, 4=Agree, 5=Strongly Agree.  For a complete review by functional area as it relates to satisfaction please see the chart below:
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 limited resources.  Employees also believe that the work environment is safe.  Human Resources is doing an effective job at partnering with the leadership team in guiding managers and coaching them with respect to ensuring effective employee relations, supporting career progression and the values and vision of the company.

Employee Management Relations

With respect to employee management relations, employees gave this area a satisfaction rating of 3.89. 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.  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 3.72 satisfaction rating.

Core Values

The survey responses focusing on the mission, vision and values of the organization received a 3.96.  The respondents understand the importance of supporting the strategic mission of their organization.

Opportunities for Improvement

It is anticipated that Human Resources will face tremendous challenges in three key areas in the future. 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 3.33.  Employees continue to feel the pressure of downsizing and at the same time they feel they are not compensated at a level commensurate with their additional duties and responsibilities. In the future 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. 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.  This would suggest that improvement in communication is critical to ensure the success of a company.

Staff Development

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. This is an area of concern for progressive employers.

In conclusion, employers today face extraordinary challenges with respect to managing the business and at the same time meeting the needs of their employees.

Friday, June 29, 2018

How can HR Professionals Create a Climate of Civility?

Human Resource professionals deal with many issues in the work-place from coaching employees, integrating new hires into the organization to placing struggling staff members on a performance plan.  One of the most important values that is currently under attack is the value of respecting one another and treating fellow staff members in a civil manner.  HR leaders are often charged with being the role model for the larger organization.  As HR professionals, we must focus on supporting four key areas to ensure a “climate of civility”.  Here are the four pillars to assist HR professionals create this new climate.

Listen Rather than Talk

Many of us do too much talking and not enough listening.  We treat conversation as a one-way communication where our goal is to influence the other person and convert them to our point of view.  Most people tend to treat conversation like a competitive sport, in which the person who says the most, makes the cleverest point, persuades others to adopt their opinion, or even speaks the longest and loudest is the winner. Many of us fall into this trap every day.  All of us find ourselves interrupting and coming up with alternative ideas to support our point of view.  If you stop and think about it, though, this approach is the opposite of the one we should actually take. In most conversations, the person who speaks least benefits the most and the person who speaks most benefits the least.  When you focus on what the other person is saying and listen to their ideas you will be in a better place to add value to the conversation.  The key take-away is listen rather than talk.

Respect  Different Points of View

Ask anyone in your workplace what treatment they most want from their manager and colleagues and they will more often indicate that what they desire most from their employer and co-workers is to be treated with respect. Our employee survey data also indicates that respect for differing perspectives and points of view are critical for job satisfaction and engagement.  Without a high level of respect among the employees conflict and job challenges may increase. Employees who have little or no respect for others and do not consider differing points of view can engage in behavior that illustrates lack of respect for the person as well as their contribution to the organization.  The key take-away is respect different points of view.

Be Open to Change

Have you ever tried to implement a new change in your company and found you have hit a road block? The executive team is supportive, your plan is thoughtful and you have secured the financial resources to make it happen; however, your employees simply didn’t want to change. Companies can encourage change and bring their employees along for the ride by communicating and sharing the vision and the strategy behind the proposed change.  Transparency with the staff will alleviate concerns and encourage buy-in for the new processes.  Having an engaged workforce that is open to new ideas is important and will allow the organization to respond to changes in the ever-changing market.  Eliminating the fear of change is as important as improving communication and encouraging employees in become a part of the decision-making process.  The key take-away is be open to change.

Challenge Inappropriate Behavior

Behaviors that are considered to be inappropriate in the workplace include being angry, exhibiting aggressive communication (both verbal and/or written) being disrespectful,  belittling, abusive or threatening another person.  Inappropriate behavior impacts morale, employee satisfaction and workplace cohesion.  Today is it very important that not only managers take action to limit this behavior but also individual contributors need to recognize that they have a responsibility to notify management or challenge the inappropriate behavior immediately.  Employees who are disrespecting their co-workers will often times only cease this behavior if they are informed that this behavior is unacceptable and that if it continues disciplinary action my result.  A work environment that supports respectful behavior will ensure productivity, creativity and innovation.  The key take-away is challenge inappropriate behavior.

These four principals if supported, encouraged and acted upon will help companies safeguard a work environment that will promote a climate of civility with Human Resources being a champion of respect.

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