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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Show Me the Perks: It’s About More than Just Money

Top tips for building a total rewards program that wins.

By Evette Baker, President of Sparks Group

Gone are the days when a simple compensation and benefit package was the key to a happy employee’s heart. If anything, to achieve an engaged and loyal workforce that will attract and retain quality personnel, employers have to do more than just go the extra mile—they have to constantly bring more and more perks, rewards, and incentives.

Millennials now dominate the workforce. They pray at the altar of convenience and individuality and crave employment opportunities and environments that “get them” and allow them to be part of something bigger. Thus this trend towards a total rewards package shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon.

Sound familiar? According to a recent piece by BenefitsPRO and a Global Engagement study conducted by Aon Hewitt, engaged employees tend to work for organizations that offer a “rich and balanced benefits package that is well explained to them and that is competitive in the marketplace.” Typically, the “rich and balanced” aspect of this offering tended to come from opportunities to build additional career skills and increase work-life balance. 
So, what does this mean for you and your organization? If you’re beginning to think that there might be some ways to improve your total rewards package (or if you’re thinking now would be a good time to start one), you’re right! In order to keep current employees happy and attract new talent, here are some top tips to consider:

·         Make it personal. Employment packages should include compensation as one of the factors, but additional rewards should focus on offerings that appeal to and deliver value to employees on a personal level.

·         It’s not about getting from point A to point B—It’s about the journey. Employees are searching for opportunities and packages with “extras” that will enhance their work experience, above and beyond the more transactional style of cost/compensation and negotiation from previous generations.

·         The unmatched power of influencers and impact. Employees are increasingly choosing to work for organizations that offer value-adds such as professional development and coaching, team and social activities, and appreciation incentives and overtures. A hefty part of ensuring that your total rewards are being communicated and enjoyed involves leveraging feedback directly from your teams. Brand ambassadors can either be your greatest asset in spreading the word to entice and engage employees or your toughest critics who complain about what you may not be doing as well as you could.

Overall, employers in today’s workplace need to be increasingly aware and adaptable, looking proactively at what competitors are offering and listening to their employees’ honest feedback about areas for improvement. Transparency, individuality, and knowing your audience (as well as speaking their language) may seem like difficult tasks, but they’re essential to ensuring that employee teams are satisfied and engaged to perform at their top potential, and advance your organization into the future.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Three Steps to Hiring Cultural Fits

Three Steps to Hiring Cultural Fits
By Miranda Nicholson, Director of HR, Formstack

Think of the perfect candidate—one whose skills and experience match perfectly with a job description. It’s hard to imagine this candidate struggling in the workplace, yet it happens all the time. Why?

Too often, companies become blinded by a resume and fail to consider cultural fit.

Whether it’s an enthusiastic extrovert who’s hit hard by feelings of isolation when working remotely, or a deep-thinking introvert who’s quickly overwhelmed by a lively open-office plan, these employees may love the work but clash with the culture.

What happens when someone’s preferences and personality traits conflict with those of their colleagues?

They might struggle to create bonds and reach important milestones, and they could become disengaged. Some may even publish negative company reviews on sites such as Glassdoor or write a book about the experience. A poor cultural fit can cost a company 50 to 60 percent of the employee’s annual salary in turnover expenses alone.

On the other hand, when you hire a candidate who is a great cultural fit, the likelihood of high levels of retention, engagement, performance, and profitability increases exponentially.

Cultural fit is a critical component of the hiring process. It’s also one of the most difficult components to master. If you’re looking to improve your hiring success rates, implement the following guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving an actively engaged workforce.
Define Your Culture Code
It’s impossible to hire for cultural fit if you can’t articulate your organization’s culture. Establishing an official culture code allows you to weave your core values into the hiring process so you can recognize when a candidate’s beliefs and behaviors align with those of your organization.

What’s unique about your company? What are your values, goals, and practices? What traits are needed to thrive? Identifying and defining these attributes and others like them will allow you to pinpoint job candidates who embrace or are willing to adapt to your environment.

The process of formally defining company culture can be as simple as a series of staff discussions and surveys or as in-depth as hiring an outside consultant. Whatever method you choose, the outcome should be the same: a firm list of cultural attributes that recruiters, supervisors and hiring managers can put to use.
Pre-Screen with Culture Code in Mind
Next, you must incorporate your culture code into the hiring process—and not just during job interviews. Vetting candidates for cultural fit should begin the moment you start reviewing resumes and applications.

You can get started by weaving culture-focused questions into your job postings and application process. Include pre-screening questions such as “What is your perfect work environment?” and “What motivates you to perform your best work?” to help candidates convey what they need to thrive. Evaluating these characteristics during the early stages of hiring allows you to be proactive about determining an applicant’s cultural fit.
Develop a Cultural Interview Process
As you move through the interview process and each job posting pool is narrowed down to a few strong candidates, make sure your interview process is infused with interactions that help ensure each new hire will adapt well to your culture.

Be sure to identify the key values and behaviors needed to be successful within your company, and develop the interview process around those needs. This creates a unique value proposition that ensures you’re hiring people who are attracted to your company and its culture.

A good cultural interview process is one that provides plenty of opportunities for both the candidate and the company’s current employees to get to know one another. Start with a peer interview in which a candidate meets several people on the team. Next, a conversation with employees outside the department can give the candidate a chance to learn more broadly about the company and the working environment. After those first two culture-focused sessions, the hiring manager and HR director should meet with the strongest candidates. At that point, each applicant and the company decision-makers should know whether a cultural fit has been found.

On paper, countless candidates can likely handle a particular job, but only a handful will do so in a way that reflects your company’s vision and values. When employees not only love the work they do but also embrace the way their company operates, great things can happen.

Miranda Nicholson is the director of HR at Formstack, overseeing the acquisition, onboarding, and retention of current and to-be Formstackers.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Managing Multigenerational Teams: Overcoming the Challenges of a Changing Workforce

Managing Multigenerational Teams: Overcoming the Challenges of a Changing Workforce

By Allen Dillard, CFO, Digium

For the first time in history, organizations will soon be faced with managing four generations of workers, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z. Leading and developing employees has never been conducive to a one-style-fits-all approach, and it’s about to get more complicated. Juggling the wants and needs of a group of employees spanning such a wide age range—and with such a diverse set of work requirements—will be challenging during the next decade as workers transition in and out of the workplace.

It’s not always clear for managers and human resources professionals  how to provide a work environment and benefit structure that addresses the wants and needs of each generation. Based on cultural shifts that took place within each time period, every generation carries a distinct set of attitudes, values, and behaviors. Each also has its own set of expectations, workstyle, and communication preferences—all of which influence the way work is accomplished. Flexibility will be key to effectively lead a multigenerational workplace. Managers should strive to understand the new work dynamic, anticipate the likely issues surrounding such diverse teams, and be prepared to frequently adjust management styles and strategy accordingly.

Here are three areas expected to present the biggest challenges for managers:

Leadership Positions
As baby boomers (born between 1946-1964) race to retirement, organizations face a difficult challenge in transitioning Generation X (1965-1981) and millennials (1982-1995) into executive positions and Generation Z (1996-2010) employees into the workforce. Research shows these generations have far less desire to pursue executive leadership roles than previous generations. This is not to suggest that millennials (ages 22-35) don’t want to prove themselves as leaders; in fact, according to a Deloitte survey 70 percent see themselves working independently at some point in their careers. Organizations looking to groom younger workers for leadership roles should consider alternative work environments so employees don’t feel tied down, such as flex hours, remote work options and ROWE (results only work environment). If younger generations feel they have a better work-life balance and business goals are being met, organizations should have less difficulty filling the baby boomer positions.

At the same time, there’s an opportunity to promote Gen X workers into more leadership roles. While this generation is supposedly less likely to demand attention and tout their accomplishments than millennials, their experience and loyalty make them ideal leaders who can also mentor the next generation of workers not be ready to take the helm.

Communication Styles
The difference in preferred communication styles between older and younger generations is fairly obvious and can cause serious communication breakdown among teams if not handled appropriately. According to a Gallup poll, baby boomers and Generation X prefer email and more formal communication methods with coworkers, while millennials and Generation Z prefer the instantaneous and less formal methods, such as texting, instant messaging, and social media. This difference can cause frustration from both groups as some may view the lack of formality as lack of respect, while others may see the formality of older coworkers as stuffy and unnecessary.

The key for managers is to provide options. It’s easy to adapt to employees’ preferences and requirements by providing them with the tools they need to relay information the way that works best for them. For example, unified communications solutions provide several methods of communication, such as voice calling, instant messaging, video sessions and mobile applications. Properly training employees on every tool provided is fundamental.  Managers worried about their baby boomers falling behind should not fear; according to boomer think-tank consultancy Age Wave, this group is 71 percent as likely as their younger counterparts to try new products and services, and they purchase more hardware, software, and electronics than any other generation.

A difference in values correlates with a difference in needs, and this is causing confusion among companies looking to create a benefits package—and even informal perks—that appeal to every age group.

According to a MetLife survey, more than half of employees (59 percent) say they would like their company to recommend benefits appropriate for their life stage, so managers should take this into consideration and work with HR when creating perks that are meaningful for recruiting and retaining employees. For example, an infographic from Paychex shows baby boomers value salary level, health insurance, and a retirement plan; Generation X values salary level, 401K plan with matching benefits, job security, advancement within the company, and opportunities for work-life balance; and millennials value benefits choices, paid time off, ability to work remotely, control over their schedules and a great deal of flexibility.

 The younger generations often struggle to fully understand how formal benefits play a role in overall job satisfaction, so educating this group on how benefits impact finances and day-to-day life is essential in order for them to see the value being offered. One perk that is of understood importance to millennials is the opportunity for career advancement, according to research from Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Career-path development, including training and mentoring options, is often an affordable perk for companies of all sizes to offer.

In other good news, there are some shared preferences for company benefits across the generations such as flexible work options, unlimited paid time off, and various types of health and wellness perks. Whatever the benefit, getting creative with perks is one way to spark the interest of any generation. Managers should consider the generation they are trying to attract or retain, consider what life stage they are in and their values, and brainstorm benefits that may accommodate them.

While it is easy to generalize about the characteristics of each generation, there are always exceptions; not everyone fits into the mold they are assumed to fit into, and some may even find it offensive. Managers should be aware of generational differences, yet treat employees as individuals, encouraging open dialogue about their values, expectations and communication preferences. Diversity promotes creativity and innovation, but before organizations can reap those benefits they must understand how to effectively manage these groups in a way that brings out their full potential.

Allen Dillard is the CFO of Digium, a business communications company based in Huntsville, Ala., that delivers enterprise-class Unified Communications.