6 Ways to Help Employees Get Along

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6 Ways to Help Employees Get Along

Sometimes employees don't get along and these conflicts and office disagreements can dampen productivity, waste time, reduce a team's performance, make the work environment tense and uncomfortable, and increase stress in work groups - none of which are beneficial to your business. Here are a few ways managers can help reduce conflict on their teams.

1. Set the tone

Managers and leaders set the tone for team interactions by what they say or do when conflict or problems emerge between their employees, how they manage conflict with their own peers, and what behavior they tolerate. If managers act passive-aggressive, disrespect fellow employees, or do not directly deal with conflict, employees will follow their lead.

2. Hire team-players

Hiring employees who have strong interpersonal, team-building, and internal customer service skills can decrease the likelihood of conflicts. While it's tough to predict how well a candidate will interact with your team, a solid personality or style assessment and behavioral interview as well as asking for references can help.  

3. Don't ignore conflicts

Managers have a tendency to ignore problems with poor team-players or team conflicts until they escalate. Instead they should encourage employees to collaborate on a solution and seek coaching and/or training for current employees who argue with coworkers, don't provide good internal service, or are overly critical or judgmental of others. It's critical to not let conflict spiral out of control.

4. Educate on styles and generational differences

Great teams are melting pots of different generations and backgrounds. Each employee brings a different personality and style to the table. Most conflict stems from not fully appreciating who another person is, their background, and the strengths of their individual style. Spend time educating your team on style and generational differences.

5. Spend time interacting

Developing common ground is one of the most important ways to fend off conflict in the workplace and it's achieved in the simplest of ways: spending more time with one another. Informally interacting and talking is one of the best ways to get employees familiar with one another. When they eventually find common ground, magic happens.

6. Reward teamwork

Most managers want teamwork, but reward individual achievement. Recognizing and rewarding teamwork, collaboration, and supportive interactions and promoting or giving choice assignments to employees who act like team players helps promote and encourage a supportive work environment.

When conflict strikes in the workplace, your managers are the best people to nip it in the bud, deal with it, and prevent it.

Conflict Resolution & Mediation Training

Conflict Resolution & Mediation Training

The course demonstrates how constructive conflict resolution techniques can be useful.

Train Your Employees

ERC Awarded 2012 Wellness@Work Award

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ERC is very proud to announce that we received a 2012 Wellness@Work Award. This is the third consecutive year that ERC has won an award; winning 2nd place in the Small Business Division. The Wellness@Work Awards honor area businesses for their workplace wellness initiatives.

“We’re honored to receive a Wellness@Work Award for the third consecutive year,” said Pat Perry, President of ERC. “It is important to us to lead by example, as we sponsor the ERC Health program throughout the State of Ohio. Wellness has truly become a part of our culture here. We see it through participation in events like staff health days, cardiovascular screening sessions and afternoon workout classes. We are proud of the commitment we’ve made to improve our employees’ health and work-life balance.”

ERC would also like to congratulate our members who also won the 2012 award: Lake Health, Oswald Companies, ShurTech Brands LLC and Vita-Mix Corporation.

Health Tip: Aim for 5 Per Day

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By Heather Butscher, MS, RD, LD
Outpatient Clinical Dietitian
University Hospitals Health System

Americans are just not meeting the fruit and vegetable recommendations. If fruits and vegetables are so important, then why aren’t Americans eating enough? The United States Department of Agriculture suggests a minimum of two servings of fruit per day and three servings of vegetables per day. However, a 2012 study shows that only 33% of adults eat enough fruit and only 27% of adults eat enough servings of vegetables per day. The statistics are even worse for high school students. Less than one third of high school students eat enough fruit and a dismal 13% eat the minimum servings of vegetables daily.  

Eating enough fruits and vegetables are a part of a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables are important as they contain nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and vitamin K as well as potassium, fiber, and magnesium. Fruits and vegetables are associated with the reduced risk of many chronic diseases and since they are relatively low in calories, they can replace higher calorie foods to aid in weight loss. If fruits and vegetables are so important, then why aren’t Americans eating enough? 

Consuming more fruits and vegetables does not have to be hard. Below are some pratical tips for making sure you get your five a day: 

  • Make half of your plate at each meal fruits and vegetables.
  • Focus your meal around vegetables such as beans instead of meat.
  • Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator for easy access. 
  • Always travel with a fruit for a snack. 
  • Stock up on frozen vegetables for last minute addition to meals and easy cooking in the microwave. 
  • Buy produce from local farmers and buy-in season.

Interested in bringing this message to your employees? ERC member organizations receive discounts on corporate wellness services through University Hospitals, including nutrition seminars brought on site to your organization.

 

Military FMLA: Wading through the Confusion

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Verifying Next of Kin

According to the Department of Labor:

"Next of kin of a covered servicemember" means the nearest blood relative other than the covered servicemember's spouse, parent, son, or daughter, in the following order of priority: Blood relatives who have been granted legal custody of the covered servicemember by court decree or statutory provisions, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and first cousins, unless the covered servicemember has specifically designated in writing another blood relative as his or her nearest blood relative for purposes of military caregiver leave under the FMLA.

When no such designation is made, and there are multiple family members with the same level of relationship to the covered servicemember, all such family members shall be considered the covered servicemember's next of kin and may take FMLA leave to provide care to the covered servicemember, either consecutively or simultaneously. When such designation has been made, the designated individual shall be deemed to be the covered servicemember's only next of kin.

How is an employer supposed to know if a next of kin has been designated?

Verifying next of kin can isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here are some guidelines which will help employers in this situation when next of kin needs to be determined:

  • The Emergency Contact Form (DD0093) would rank employee’s relatives. This will help determine Next of Kin. For example, if the servicemember didn't have brothers/sisters, child, spouse, or parent, then maybe they would list their cousin or uncle as an emergency contact and beneficiary.
  • To obtain the DD0093, the employer can contact:
    • Army orders verification should be sent to hrc.foia@conus.army.mil
    • For all other branches of the armed forces: To identify a contact person, an employer should look at the military order and conduct an Internet Search to locate of the unit/battalion the servicemember is assigned. There is no general location/number employers can use to verify the validity of the orders. Employers are going to have to do some research to find the appropriate officer in charge of the unit/battalion.

This link has contact information for all the branches of the armed forces. Each branch can provide verification of active duty dates of service. The verification of orders is given by the unit officer in charge of the service member.

Military orders for Marines, Air Force, and Navy will detail what unit or battalion the servicemember is assigned.

The links below can be used to locate contact information for the unit the servicemember is assigned. The employer should contact the officer in charge of the unit to verify the orders.

The Air Force doesn't have a main location on the web which has all the units and contact information. An employer’s best option is to conduct an Internet Search of the unit indicated on the orders to locate a contact person.

Questions please contact:
Holly Moyer, M.Ed., CRC
Sr. Absence Management Consultant
(440) 937-9507
Holly.moyer@careworks.com

An Employer's Guide to College Recruiting

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You have everything to offer: jobs to fill, a great workplace, exciting career paths, meaningful work, and a terrific staff. How do you leverage all of this to gain an edge in recruiting a fresh, talented, and enthusiastic May grad? We've compiled a brief employer's guide for successful college recruitment.

Identify talent needs. Determine the talent you need now, the talent you will need in the future, and which departments would benefit from a new college graduate or entry-level role.

Get rid of your traditional practices. Young people are drawn to innovative and non-traditional organizations. Dress down, color your walls, open up your office environment, and change your policies. Attracting this generation requires thinking differently about work.

Create an online presence. Young people spend the majority of their time online and on social media outlets. Use social media, your website, and mobile apps to engage with young people and highlight your culture and workplace.

Build an attractive employment brand for young people. What does your organization offer that is unique and that young people want? Young people generally desire to follow their passions, work on something meaningful, develop their career, and have work/life balance. Create a compelling message that attracts the younger generation.

Promote clear career opportunities and paths. Young people are concerned about the career opportunities they can take advantage of at your organization and how you will develop their careers over time. If they can't see a future at your company, they won't apply.

Make the recruitment experience fun. Whether it's creating an attractive booth at a college career fair or inviting students to fun social events to learn about your workplace, make their experience exciting and memorable and they won't forget your organization.

Use your young professionals to connect and engage with students. Send your other young professionals on-campus and encourage them to connect and engage with students. Have them tell positive and compelling stories about their careers and experiences at your organization.

Engage them over time. Maintain communication with students, especially if you begin recruiting early. Send them emails, call them, and let them know you are interested in them, particularly the exceptional talent that is vetting offers with your competitors.

Develop relationships with key faculty and college career centers. They will recommend top students to you and suggest jobs at your organization to students. Select and target efforts at a few key colleges with quality programs applicable to your staffing needs.

Create a job shadowing experience. Allow students to job shadow and witness your day-to-day operations to help them understand the job and experience the work environment. Pull out the bells and whistles and "wow" them with your hospitality while they are with you.

Use internship programs. There's no easier way to hire a May grad than by converting one of your interns into a full-time hire. You get the benefit of testing their skills and experiences before making an investment.

Provide the right pay and benefits package. For many college grads, their final decision comes down to basics: the highest offer and best benefits. Make sure you know what other companies are paying new college graduates in your geographic area, otherwise you may end up making an offer that is unattractive to your candidates and all of your fantastic recruiting efforts could go to waste.

College recruitment provides the opportunity to acquire fresh talent with tons of potential. Every organization can and should take advantage of these strategies to land a great young hire. 

Additional Resources

Intern & Recent Graduate Pay Rates & Practices Survey This survey collects information from Northeast Ohio employers about their internship and recent graduate employment and pay practices - including intern pay rates and college graduate starting salaries. This survey provides important information for employers planning to hire interns or new graduates.

Project Assistance
ERC offers a broad range of HR consulting services and has expertise in developing selection systems, recruiting, and developing job descriptions. For more information about these services, please contact consulting@ercnet.org.

Save on Background Screening, Job Posting, Recruitment Services and More! ERC members save money with our Preferred Partner Network.

4 Reasons to Not Use Facebook for Hiring

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The 2012 controversy about employers screening job candidates by asking for their Facebook passwords has many employers wondering: should social media and online information be used in the hiring process and to what extent?

Most recruiting experts agree that social media can be used to effectively source and identify great talent. In fact, there is a good bit of evidence which shows that social media is a successful sourcing strategy for finding talent, especially passive candidates. Social media is quickly replacing other traditional recruitment methods such as postings and advertisements.

The main issue with social media is not in using it to find and source talent when recruiting, but rather when social media platforms like Facebook and other online information are used to assess and evaluate job candidates. While the goal should always be to eliminate the risk of a bad hire and hire a top performer, here are a few important reasons why using social media and other online information to evaluate job candidates poses problems.

1. There is limited research support for social media as a selection practice.

There is not enough conclusive and research-based evidence that supports social media as a predictor of future job performance and fit or as an effective hiring method. Though a 2012 study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found a strong correlation between ratings of Facebook profiles and actual performance ratings of employees, this research must be replicated in order to make a stronger case for social media usage in the hiring and selection process.

2. Social media is not yet considered a valid or reliable hiring practice.

All hiring assessments and evaluation techniques should be valid and reliable and social media has yet to be tested against the reliability and validity standards that other hiring methods have endured, such as validated ability and personality assessments, structured or behavioral interviews, and work samples. As a result, it's unclear as to whether social media is a sound hiring practice.

3. Hiring based on information attained via social media poses legal concerns.

Use of social media for selection also poses legal concerns because social networking sites contain so much information that employers are prohibited from using to make employment decisions. For example, social media can expose an individual's race, gender, age, and national origin through pictures, postings, and biographical information. These characteristics are protected from discrimination under law.

Additionally, the courts have yet to clarify their stance on the usage of social media for selection. Until more case law offers guidance on the issue, it will be unclear as to whether social media is an appropriate and legal selection practice.

4. Using social media can lead to decisions based on irrelevant hiring criteria.

A final issue with using social media in the hiring and selection process is that it may not provide the necessary information to evaluate candidates objectively and consistently. Social media often contains a great deal of personal and irrelevant information that causes employers to make judgments about individuals, but not necessarily based on actual hiring criteria (skills, qualifications, experiences, culture fit, etc.).

For example, a posting on Facebook by a job candidate has little relevance to whether an employee can actually do the requirements of the job. Employers can use this information to screen out hires even when it is not job-related. When employers make decisions about candidates based on criteria that is not job-related or based on job requirements, they are making biased selection decisions.

Also note that the three most common reasons new-hires fail are poor culture or personality fit, poor job fit or an inability to do the work, and lack of interest or motivation to do the job. Social media tells employers very little about candidates in these areas.

In conclusion, your organization should think twice before "googling" your next job candidate or asking them for their Facebook password to browse their profile. Not only do these practices expose your organization to legal risks, but they may ultimately not be effective in helping you select great talent. Our advice: stick to tried and true selection practices to maximize your probability of acquiring a great hire. 

Please note that by providing you with research information that may be contained in this article, ERC is not providing a qualified legal opinion. As such, research information that ERC provides to its members should not be relied upon or considered a substitute for legal advice. The information that we provide is for general employer use and not necessarily for individual application.

Additional Resources

Trends in Recruiting
This workshop covers topics vital to recruiting such as leveraging social media, sourcing diverse talent, evaluating candidates, and developing metrics to help your organization gain success in the recruiting process.

Selection Assessments
ERC’s assessment services, which use online and credible instruments, help minimize the uncertainty in employee selection by evaluating the skills, abilities, style, and career goals of job candidates in relation to your job requirements. Our services also include professional interpretation and feedback from our Management Psychologist, Don Kitson.

Project Assistance
ERC offers a broad range of HR consulting services and has expertise in developing selection systems, recruiting, and developing job descriptions. For more information about these services, please contact consulting@ercnet.org.

Save on Background Screening, Job Posting, Recruitment Services and More!
ERC members save money with our Preferred Partner Network. Click here for details.

Fitness Tip: Starting a Fitness Program

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In the beginning, your fitness plan should not be overly aggressive.

One of the biggest problems most people encounter when starting a fitness program is rapidly depleted motivation after only a few weeks due to an overly ambitious fitness plan.

Two days per week of 20-minute low-intensity cardiovascular exercise (walking, jogging, biking, swimming); and two days per week of 30-minute light resistance training (using weights or resistance machines) is adequate in the beginning.

As you become acclimated to the lifestyle “shift” you can add more days and get improved results. But beware: if you try to do too much too fast, you may end up quitting altogether.

If you’ve tried and failed doing it alone, get a training partner or personal trainer who will help you sustain your motivation.

Established in 1996, Fitness Together has led the industry for one-on-one personal fitness training. 

Healthy Tip: How to Avoid Excess Salt

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By Heather Butscher, MS, RD, LD
Outpatient Clinical Dietitian
University Hospitals Health System

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, adult Americans in 2012 consume double the amount of salt and sodium recommended – much of this can be blamed on eating “faster food choices”. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans reduce salt and sodium intake to less then 2,300 milligrams (mg), and further reduce intake to less then 1,500 mg among persons who are: 51 and older, those of any age who are African American, have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. USDA recommends preparing (from scratch) more meals at home where there is more control to use little or no salt seasonings.

If going out to eat, watching sodium is imperative.

Individuals should use the following strategies when dining out:

  • Ask how foods are prepared and request that meal be prepared without added salt, MSG, or salt-containing ingredients.
  • Use alternative low sodium spices to add flavor – pepper, oregano, curry or crushed red pepper.
  • Know the terms that indicate high sodium foods such as pickled, cured, soy sauce, and broth.
  • Move the salt shaker away.
  • Limit condiments, such as mustard, catsup, pickles, and sauces with salt-containing ingredients.

These tactics can really help to reduce the amount of sodium consumed when dining out.

Eating away from home can be healthy. Strive to include measures that help to reduce salt and sodium by selecting lower sodium foods and limiting added salt. So become a savvy diner and you can still enjoy dining out; most importantly, you will also be able to enjoy your good health.

University Hospitals, one of the nation’s leading health care systems, has partnered with ERC to offer significant discounts to its members.

4 Strategies to Combat Turnover

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Turnover is a reality for every business. It can be a warning sign that something is wrong with our workplace, managers, or teams that needs to be fixed. It can also signal that we might be hiring poor fits into the organization.

The problem of turnover demands that we understand why we are not able to retain some of our employees and fix it before the situation spirals and we lose many talented employees. Here are 4 strategies to combat turnover.

Step 1: Track it.

The first step to deal with turnover is to track and benchmark it. You must understand how your numbers compare to normal turnover for your industry and size and if the turnover you are experiencing is healthy or unhealthy for your business. For example, are your best employees leaving or are your new-hires leaving, and is turnover primarily voluntary or involuntary? At a minimum, track the following types of turnover:

  • Voluntary and involuntary turnover
  • All employee and top performer turnover
  • New-hire turnover at intervals (90 days, 180 days, and 1 year)

Step 2: Research the context.

The second step in combating turnover is to research the context of the termination, including the work area affected and characteristics of the employee. You'll also want to explore the former employee's reason for leaving as well as their supervisor's and coworkers' feedback on the termination. Turnover issues tend to follow a pattern so look for trends in the following:

  • Work area (location, division, department, team, and supervisor)
  • Individual characteristics (length of service, performance, type of job)
  • Reason for leaving (per exit interview/survey)
  • Supervisor and team feedback

Step 3: Identify critical incidences.

Turnover is generally not caused by a single workplace event. Research shows that turnover results from a process of progressive disengagement, which can take weeks, months, and sometimes even years to escalate to a final decision. Eventually, however, a critical incident causes an employee to decide to quit.

To understand the cause of turnover and fix it, you need to identify these critical turning points and causes of disengagement so that repeat scenarios with other employees are prevented. Examine what went wrong, what you could have done differently, and how you will approach a similar situation in the future.

Step 4: Implement interventions.

After determining the causes and context of turnover and putting together the pieces of each former employee's story, there are several major interventions that you can use to solve turnover problems. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Job design: changing a job's design, reducing workload, providing more training, or enhancing employees' skills
  • Management: training or developing a manager's skills, removing a manager from their position, improving performance management or feedback
  • Hiring and selection: making a change in the hiring or selection procedure, enhancing on-boarding
  • Communication: communicating changes and reasons for changes, being sensitive to and dealing with employee reactions, managing and mediating coworker conflict
  • Total rewards: making changes to pay and benefits, enhancing advancement opportunities, enhancing work/life benefits

Turnover is as critical to monitor and address as expenses in your organization. It is a lost investment in your business that can take significant time and money to recover, especially when you lose a high performer. While there’s no magic bullet solution to prevent it, your organization can better manage turnover by tracking it, better understanding why it happens, and implementing interventions that deal with it.

Additional Resources

2012 ERC Turnover & HR Department Practices Survey
This survey collected information from Northeast Ohio employers on voluntary and involuntary turnover of employees and new-hires as well as HR department practices including the role of HR, common HR metrics and benchmarks, and the use of technology and information systems within the HR department.

How to Build Your Own Great Workplace

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At ERC, we believe that creating a great workplace is about creating an environment and culture that supports the talent your organization needs to be and stay successful. It means creating a place in which great talent want to come work and where they want to stay and build their career. It’s about enabling superior performance and eliminating the policies, practices, and norms in your workplace that hinder your top people’s success, progress, and innovation.

If this sounds like something your organization wants to achieve, here are 5 steps we recommend for creating a great workplace.

1. Commit to creating a great workplace.

Making a true commitment to be an employer of choice is the first and hardest part of creating a great workplace. It requires getting your management team on-board with their support, securing and committing resources for the initiative, and creating a vision of where you see your workplace in the next 3-5 years. It also entails meeting regularly with your managers to talk about and identify ways to enhance your workplace. You can't create a great workplace without your leadership and managers on-board, the willingness to put resources behind the effort, and on-going discussion.

2. Identify your top performers.

Great workplaces are built from great people. This requires hiring the right people from your receptionist to line employees to managers to top leadership. Rarely do organizations have all the right people. This is why it is especially important to identify who your top performers are and define what attributes top performers have at your organization. Knowing which employees are successful and why they are effective will help you hire more of those people, create a workplace that meets their needs, and weed out the wrong fits.

3. Ask employees for their feedback.

Great workplaces have feedback-rich cultures that care about, appreciate, and use employees' input, ideas, and opinions. To create and maintain a great workplace, you need to know what engages your people, specifically what would make them stay, what would make them leave, and what is important to them. In our experience, the answers to these questions (though similar) vary by organization. Whether it's conducting one-on-ones, focus group discussions, or an engagement survey, start somewhere and invite employees to share their feedback.

4. Benchmark your practices.

Data and measurement are important parts of creating a great place to work. In order to create a great workplace, you must gauge how you stack up against other employers of choice – how your total rewards package, policies, culture, and results compare to the standards set by best-in-class organizations. This not only helps your organization determine what it takes to be a great place to work, but after determining where the gaps are, you can develop strategies to help build, change, and enhance your policies and practices.

5. Evaluate your progress.

Building a great place to work is an on-going endeavor – it never ends. It will require constant attention, changes, and improvements. It will also require that you monitor and evaluate your progress regularly to make sure that you are meeting your goals in becoming a great place to work.

If your organization is progressing towards becoming a great place to work, over time it will see its investments pay off. Attracting and hiring top talent gets easier, great talent sticks around, your workforce is more engaged and productive, and your workplace’s reputation improves. The road to a great workplace is undoubtedly a path that is worth pursuing if your organization wants to secure top talent to achieve long-term success.

Additional Resources

NorthCoast 99 – 99 Best Places to Work in Northeast Ohio If your organization is interested in being recognized as a best place to work and thinks it excels at attracting and retaining top talent, begin your application today!

Benchmark Reports Interested in targeted metrics for top performers and benchmarking how your organization's practices for attracting and retaining top talent compare to others in the region? Please take a look at our benchmark reports which provide tons of information on great workplaces and top performers.

Consulting & Project Assistance
ERC is a leading provider of quality, affordable human resources consulting services in Ohio. Our HR consulting services provide the crucial strategic and technical expertise needed to support your HR goals and workplace initiatives.