1 in 2 Employers Will Give Employees Holiday Gifts This Year

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According to the 2011 ERC Holiday Practices Survey, half of Northeast Ohio employers say that they plan on giving employees holiday gifts in 2011. Of the organizations that intend to provide gifts, the majority are budgeting the same amount as 2010, while only a few employers are spending more or less on holiday gifts.

Gift cards and cash remain the gifts of choice among employers. In 2011, around 60% of employee holiday gifts will be gift cards and approximately 16% will be cash, based on the survey’s findings. Other gifts employers plan to offer include hams or turkeys, gift baskets, candy/chocolates, clothing, logo items, additional PTO,  entertainment books, and electronics.

How to Create a Positive, Engaging Performance Review Experience

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It’s the end of the year and for most employers, time for performance review conversations.

Have you ever left a performance review discussion feeling more engaged, inspired, and motivated? If you have, you understand that performance reviews can drive positive change and feelings, if done right. The trouble is that most managers don’t know how to facilitate these positive changes within the context of a performance review discussion.

All too often, performance reviews can be a negative experience for employees and managers alike, dreaded by some, avoided by others, and feared by even the best of performers. Managers often dislike providing performance feedback to their employees, and employees don’t like receiving it. Who can blame them? When the process is focused on judging, rating, and criticizing, as it is traditionally, it can lose its purpose and become a negative experience for everyone involved.

The performance review process doesn’t need to be perceived this way. It can be a time of re-engaging and re-directing employees towards greater success in the next year and affirming your support for their performance and development, while still meeting your administrative needs (i.e. merit increases, performance documentation, etc.).

Changing the perceptions of the process starts with changing the experience. Here are a few suggestions for your managers to create a more positive performance review experience.

Prepare and be objective.

Throughout the year, it’s important to collect information about your employees, including their specific accomplishments, performance problems, progress in their development, and current skills. This information will help you form a more objective evaluation of your employee. For example, every time your employee does something well, goes to a training, develops a new skill, has a performance issue, or goes above and beyond their duties, log the behavior, result, and cause (if known) in a diary for future reference. This will make completing your employee’s performance review much easier and accurate. Nothing is more frustrating to an employee than a manager who doesn’t have all of his/her facts straight or evaluates them too subjectively.

Deemphasize ratings.

Ratings can serve a purpose in the performance review process, but the focus of a performance review discussion should not be where the employee fell on the Likert scale or how the employee ranks compared to other employees. Employees can often get caught up in how they were rated and miss the bigger picture of the conversation. The performance discussion can quickly become an argument about differing opinions on ratings and this isn’t productive for either party. Additionally, remember that a manager’s core purpose in the performance management process isn’t to judge, but rather coach to improve performance.

Uncover causes of high performance.

A fair performance review should uncover an employee’s areas of high performance throughout the year and the causes of why the employee performed well on those tasks or projects. By identifying an employee’s successes and reasons for their success, you can better understand the factors that lead an employee to perform well, and maximize these factors in the future by recreating conditions that facilitate great performance.

Focus on improvement.

Another core purpose of a performance review is to improve performance. This rarely happens just by criticizing the employee and telling them what they need to improve. In fact, you’ll often find that employees don’t know where to start to improve, so there needs to be additional work, help, coaching, and development to close the performance gap that exists and to enhance and broaden skills. The performance review discussion should explore ways to close those gaps and expand skill sets, and discuss barriers to employees’ success as well as how those can be bridged or alleviated.

Suggest ways employees can learn and develop.

Explore learning and training opportunities and look for ways to align development with employees’ preferred learning styles. For example, some employees respond better to reading material, attending workshops, mentoring, or on-the-job training. The key is to find and suggest effective ways that employees like to learn and use these to encourage skill development. Map out a few learning objectives to ensure that employees are held accountable for building their skills.

Set goals and objectives.

A final step that’s beneficial at the end of a performance review discussion is goal setting. Setting goals towards the end of the conversation helps close the conversation on a motivational note, and get employees excited about new objectives and projects. Goals can strengthen performance and improve skills, and can be helpful in motivating employees to work towards new objectives. Ideally, employees should have input into what these goals are, versus just being arbitrarily assigned objectives.

Close with support.

Finally, it’s important to end a performance review discussion supportively. Express confidence in the employee’s abilities and let them know that you are there to support their success throughout the next year as they work towards their goals. Emphasize what they are doing right, what they can improve upon, and how you’ll help them. Cite specific ways that you will do this, and if possible, create a written action plan. Then, be sure to deliver on those promises. Even when an employee has much to work on, having the support and confidence of their manager can make all the difference between a negative or positive reaction to the discussion and feeling motivated to change their behavior.

In the coming years, make it a goal to have each and every one of your employees leave their performance review discussion motivated and inspired. You may discover that these discussions aren’t so bad after all, and create a more engaged team that’s ready to deliver great results in your organization.

Performance Management Training Courses

Performance Management Training Courses

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Competition for Top Talent Rises; Proactive Approach is Recommended

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While unemployment across the country might be high, employers around Northeast Ohio might be surprised to learn that isn’t necessarily the case locally.

For example, the city of Mentor reported an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent for September, according to an article published in November of 2011 in The News-Herald.

“There’s a perception out there that the unemployment rate is so high,” said SueAnn Naso, President of Staffing Solutions Enterprises in Mayfield Heights. “The federal rate is what everybody hears, but when you drill down into different pockets in Northeast Ohio, we’ve got a lot of people back to work, and our rates are much better.”

For employers across the region, a lower unemployment rate means a more competitive market for top talent. Employers looking to hire the right talent for their organizations can no longer afford to sit back and wait for talent to come to them, said Dan Barnett, owner of Integrity Staffing Services in Twinsburg.

“Companies should be very proactive in planning,” Barnett said. “Most companies are reactive when it comes to hiring. Being proactive, understanding the marketplace, knowing what you’re looking for - organizations should take a look at their hourly wages and salary structures, especially in the manufacturing and distribution level with minimum wage going up at the beginning of 2012. Companies need to start reconsidering pay levels, even if they’re above  minimum wage. Otherwise, they’ll miss the opportunity to attract the top talent in the marketplace.”

For employers looking to improve their recruiting efforts, local help is available from such firms as Staffing Solutions and Integrity Staffing, which together comprise the Northeast Ohio Talent Alliance (NEOTA). Staffing Solutions primarily works with organizations to fill positions in the administrative, office, accounting, professional, and human resources sectors, while Integrity’s focus is on manufacturing , distribution and light industrial.

“Recruiting can be a very time-intensive process,” Naso said. “Many companies don’t experience a steady or constant need for recruiting – it goes up and down. Companies tend to staff internally at a certain level, but they need help when they hit those spikes. That cyclicality creates a need to have a solution. Recruiting firms are constantly recruiting because there’s always somebody who has a need. 

“We’re constantly building a database, constantly adding to the pool. That gives organizations a resource to tap into when they have those peaks.”

A local manufacturer recently found itself in that exact position. Having just ended a hiring freeze, the company didn’t have dedicated recruiting support internally and was uncertain about the number of hires it would have in 2011.

“Our client brought Staffing Solutions in to manage all their permanent hiring as an outsourced solution,” Naso said. “We ended up filling more than twice as many positions as originally estimated in half the time it would have taken them to fill the positions on their own.

“They also decided to outsource the management of their temporary staffing to us because it was becoming increasingly more challenging for one agency to fill all their needs. We’re currently managing five agencies to ensure we’re bringing the quality talent needed to meet their fluctuating temporary needs.”

Staffing Solutions and Integrity Staffing are Preferred Partners of ERC. Click here for more information about our partners. 

More Northeast Ohio Employers Planning Holiday Parties This Year

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The 2011 ERC Holiday Practices Survey, which surveyed 152 Northeast Ohio organizations, shows that more employers in Northeast Ohio (73%) are coordinating holiday parties when compared to 2009 and 2010, with most respondents budgeting the same as the preceding year.

Additionally, more organizations are having their holiday parties at an external location and are catering them this year. More employers are also providing alcohol and entertainment at their holiday parties, and inviting employees’ significant others and spouses to the events compared to the past few years.

The percentage of organizations serving alcohol at their holiday parties has significantly increased from 25% in 2009 to 40% in 2011. In this same time period, 29% more Northeast Ohio employers are having their holiday party catered, 32% more organizations plan to hold their party at an external location, and 14% more employers are inviting employees’ significant others or spouses to the parties.

Ways to Thank Employees This Holiday

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For many employers, 2011 culminated in greater success than the preceding years and the holidays are an ideal time to show appreciation to your employees for that success.

Think back on 2011 and hopefully a great deal of achievements, accomplishments, and successes happened at your organization. Many of those would not have been possible without the efforts of your employees, those in the front lines every day servicing your customers and building your products. Each of your employees played a critical role in how your financials play out on December 31.

So whether you hold a celebration or offer time off work, gifts, or other gestures of thanks, it’s critically important to make the time and regard each your employee’s efforts and accomplishments. They are the people who made your success happen in 2011. Here are some ideas.

Coordinate a holiday party or event.

Providing a holiday party or gathering for your employees is a special way to show appreciation to your staff around the holidays. Nearly three-quarters of local employers coordinate a holiday party for their employees. These events are usually luncheons or evening parties held on a Thursday or Friday, and typically use external locations and caterers to host the parties – such as local restaurants, country clubs, or hotels. Some employers even invite employees’ spouses, significant others, and/or children.

Host a pre-holiday team-building activity.

This could be a departmental or team luncheon, fun activity, retreat, or a community service event. The end of the year is a great time to bring departments and teams together to discuss the past year, celebrate accomplishments, and/or continue to build the team. Encourage each of your managers to spend time with their team as a whole. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming, but should strengthen team dynamics and relationships to get the New Year started on the right foot.

Start a holiday tradition.

Traditions are an important part of your organization’s culture that makes your organization unique. If your organization doesn’t already have a holiday tradition, it may consider starting one. Perhaps it’s a family holiday party, a Secret Santa exchange, an annual breakfast, or an office decorating day.

Recognize and reward this year’s best.

There’s no question that some of your employees contributed in greater ways to your organization’s success than others, and if your organization hasn’t done so already, it should plan to recognize and reward those top performers. Perhaps these individuals include employees who have worked especially hard on a strategic project, those that exceeded their goals or contributed most to the organization’s profitability, or those that introduced a new innovation or initiative to the organization. Make a short list of your top contributors and provide them a special reward this holiday, preferably publicly.

Provide an extra day off (or two).

One of the best gifts you can give your employees is extra time with family and friends and a bit more work/life balance. Provide the opportunity for some time off work, either through extra paid holidays provided by the company, additional paid time off, early-releases, holiday breaks, reduced schedules, or more flexible work. Also keep in mind that the majority of employers plan to provide paid days off for the days surrounding the holidays.

Make a personal gesture of thanks.

Encourage managers (and ideally your CEO or top management team) to write notes to employees, provide personalized telephone calls, or meet with them individually to thank them for their contributions. These personal gestures can go a long way in showing gratitude to employees for their efforts and accomplishments.

Give a gift.

Small gifts or cash/gift cards are a great way to show you appreciate employees. About half of employers provide holiday gifts to their employees. The most common gift given to employees is a general gift card. Some employers, however, provide hams/turkeys, gift baskets, logo items, clothing items, and candy. You may choose to get even more creative with your gifts and vary them from year to year. Be sure that immediate supervisors or top managers distribute these gifts.

…or gifts that keep giving.

By these we mean the things that many employees are looking for this year – beyond just a gift card. Perhaps it’s a new opportunity, a raise, or a promotion. Survey after survey shows that compensation, advancement, and career development rank high on employees’ “wish lists” this year. You’ll find that these “gifts” truly will keep on giving when they improve your employees’ motivation, engagement, and happiness at work in the new year.

Provide a few perks to help save them money.

Finally, the holidays can stretch employees’ wallets, so any way your organization can save its employees money will be appreciated. Discount programs, convenience services, and free benefits are all perks you can introduce to your employees this holiday season. Plus, ERC offers several employee discounts that are available to your employees through your membership. Click here to learn more.

This holiday, remember to thank the people that made your organization successful this past year by showing a few gestures of appreciation.

Additional Resources

Holiday Benchmarking Surveys 

Benchmark your holiday practices and paid holidays your organization offers by downloading our holidays surveys: the ERC Holiday Practices Survey and ERC Paid Holiday Survey.

Discounts on Catering
Need a caterer for your upcoming holiday party? Consider using ERC’s Preferred Partner, Food for Thought, which provides discounted delivery fees on catering services to ERC members within certain geographical areas.

Team-Building
Build your team this holiday season! The end of the year or beginning of the next is a common and great time to gather your team together for a team-building event, activity, or training to ensure that your team is ready to execute for the New Year.

100+ Workplace Ideas: Celebrations, Parties, & Gatherings

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100+ Workplace Ideas: Celebrations, Parties, & Gatherings

There are many ways to celebrate and gather in the workplace, not limited to just the holidays. Many workplaces come together to celebrate retirements, birthdays, anniversaries or tenure, office changes, employee or organizational accomplishments, among others.

Workplace celebrations and gatherings are important for many reasons. For one, they bring your staff together, allow them to socialize with one another more informally, and often help build and strengthen relationships. Second, they enhance the culture of a workplace, making it fun and enjoyable. Third, celebrations and gatherings provide a means of recognizing personal and workplace achievements and milestones and showing appreciation for them in a public manner.

We’ve compiled a robust collection of 100+ ideas for reasons to celebrate, ways to celebrate, and local places to celebrate with your employees throughout the year.

Ideas for reasons to celebrate or gather with employees

  • Holidays
  • Retirements
  • Birthdays
  • Graduations
  • Promotions
  • Anniversaries or tenure
  • New babies or adoptions
  • New year or end-of-year
  • Major project kick-offs, milestones, or completions
  • Office changes (new office, renovations, major improvements, etc.)
  • Beginning of or end of a busy season
  • Employee appreciation/recognition
  • Employee, team, and/or organizational achievements
  • Company anniversary
  • Team-building
  • Charitable causes
  • Break from work

Ideas for ways to celebrate and gather with employees

  • “75” days of celebration to celebrate “75” years in business
  • Annual employee appreciation day
  • Apple picking
  • Baby showers
  • Beach parties
  • Black-tie galas
  • Boating or cruise events
  • Bonfires
  • Bowling nights
  • Breakfast with Santa
  • Breakfasts or luncheons with the President
  • Bus trips or excursions
  • Busy-season kick-off and/or wrap-up parties
  • Cake parties
  • Carnivals
  • Casino, card, or poker nights
  • Charitable walks or runs
  • Chili cook-offs
  • Christmas in July
  • Cinco-de-Mayo parties
  • Clam bakes
  • College logo days
  • Comedy clubs
  • Company picnics
  • Company-paid staff vacations
  • Cook-offs
  • Cookouts
  • Corn-hole tournaments
  • Coworker trivia
  • Crazy hat or shirt days
  • Cultural/ethnic celebrations
  • Day at the spa
  • Day at the zoo, park, or amusement park
  • Desert decorating contests
  • Desk decorating parties (holidays, birthdays, etc.)
  • Dessert parties
  • Dinner at the President’s house
  • Dinner with live band or DJ and dancing
  • Dinner-dances
  • Easter egg hunts
  • Employee talent shows
  • Fall fests
  • Family fests with activities, contests, and entertainment
  • Field days
  • Fundraisers
  • Gift exchanges or white elephant parties
  • Gifts or celebrations for Mothers Day and Fathers Day
  • Golf outings and scrambles
  • Halloween costume contests
  • Halloween decorating contests
  • Hayrides
  • Ice cream socials and ice cream truck visits
  • Indians, Browns, and Cavaliers opening day celebrations
  • Internal happy hours
  • Karaoke events
  • Laser tag
  • Limo service to luncheons/dinners
  • Local sporting events
  • Local theatre or plays
  • Luaus
  • March Madness events
  • Mid-winter slump events
  • Monthly potluck birthday parties
  • Movie nights
  • National food days
  • Night at the races
  • Nintendo Wii contests or tournaments
  • Office putt-putt
  • Office Thanksgiving luncheons or potlucks
  • Office trick-or-treating for employees’ children
  • Open-houses
  • Paintball
  • Paper airplane contests
  • Pinewood derby
  • Pizza parties
  • Potlucks
  • Raffles
  • Retirement parties
  • Salad bar lunches
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Scrapbooking parties
  • Service award parties
  • Shopping days for the holidays
  • Silent auctions
  • Skits
  • Snow days (tobogganing, sledding, skiing, and/or ice skating)
  • Soup sampler days
  • Special employee weeks or days (administrative professionals, nurse’s week, maintenance day, etc.)
  • Sports tournaments (flag football, softball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc.)
  • St. Patrick’s Day festivities (catered corned beef lunch, parade watching, etc.)
  • Staff off-site retreats
  • Surprise fun days (go to the movies, etc.)
  • Tailgates
  • Take your children to work days
  • Take your parents to work days
  • Theme parties
  • Ugly sweater holiday parties
  • Visits from Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny
  • Wear your sweats to work day
  • Wedding showers
  • Weekend trips to Kalihari or Put-in-Bay
  • Whirleyball
  • Wine and cheese tasting

Ideas for local venues for your celebrations

  • Akron Aeros Canal Park
  • Akron Zoo
  • Blossom Music Center
  • Cadillac Ranch
  • Cedar Point
  • Cleveland Botanical Gardens
  • Cleveland Browns Stadium
  • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
  • Country Clubs
  • Dave and Busters
  • Edgewater Park
  • Goodtime III
  • Hale Farm
  • Hilarities Comedy Club
  • Hotels
  • House of Blues
  • Kalahari
  • Kennywood
  • Lake County Captains Classic Park
  • Nautica Queen
  • Playhouse Square
  • President of the Company’s Home
  • Progressive Field                                                   
  • Put-in-Bay
  • Quail Hallow
  • Renaissance Hotel
  • Restaurants
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • Seven Springs
  • Shorby Club
  • Swings N Things
  • The Q
  • Waldameer Water World
  • Whisky Island
  • Windows on the River

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What to Do When Violence Comes to Work

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An estimated 2 million employees each year are victims of workplace or domestic violence, according to OSHA. Employers have a responsibility to prevent and mitigate issues of workplace violence, which also include domestic violence. These issues can cause problems that organizations can’t afford to ignore if not prevented or managed.

Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is defined by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as any physical assault, threatening behavior, or verbal abuse that occurs in a work setting. Violence can also include intimidation, harassment, or damaging acts to an organization’s resources or capabilities. The majority of workplace violence (85%) occurs by criminal intent by individuals that have no affiliation with the business, according to the NIOSH. Under 15% of incidents are perpetrated by other employees, clients/customers, or individuals with a relationship to an employee in the business. This suggests that many incidents of workplace violence are caused by individuals outside of the business. In light of these facts, here are a few ways you can mitigate and manage the effects of workplace violence:

1. Create and enforce a policy.

Combating workplace violence begins with making it a priority for your business to keep employees and your resources safe, expressing zero-tolerance for violent words and acts, and having a plan and procedure in place when violent acts do happen. Employees and supervisors also need to be trained and educated on how to deal with potentially violent situations as part of enforcing your policy.

2. Respond to threats.

Take reasonable steps to protect your workforce and respond to threats, reports of threats, and suspicious activity whether these come in the form of actual observable behaviors or oral/written remarks made to the target or indirectly made to another individual.  Evaluate every threat seriously and investigate it.

3. Assess your outside risks.

Evaluate your external risks, such as public access to your building, how visitors are screened, lighting in parking lots, entry-systems, and emergency procedures. Consider offering escort service to the parking lot, providing video surveillance, hiring security guards, or using metal detectors to catch suspicious risks before they enter your workplace.

4. Address internal conflicts.

You may not be able to always control violent acts that come from outside of your workplace, but you do have the means to control what happens in your workplace. Ensure that conflicts between employees do not get out of hand and are promptly addressed and mediated if necessary. Don’t take assaults or harassment lightly. Train employees on how to control hostile and aggressive behavior if you have had incidents in the past. Teach supervisors how to remain calm in emotional situations and regain control of the environment.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can also hurt your workplace when violence at home spills over into work. This form of violence is often a hidden workplace threat which affects mostly women. In fact, nearly 1 in 3 females are physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at least one time in their lives according to the Commonwealth Fund, suggesting that domestic violence is likely affecting or has affected at least one of your employees. Unfortunately, victims of domestic violence are frequently afraid to reveal these issues to their employers, but by not doing so can pose serious threats to the organization. Here are some ways you can mitigate and manage the effects of domestic violence on your workplace:

1. Recognize the signs.

If the situation is not disclosed to you, it’s important to recognize the signs of a problem, especially if it is impeding performance, productivity, or the employee’s well-being. Watch for signs of withdrawal behavior, low self esteem, oversensitivity, performance or attitude shifts, unusually fearful or anxious responses to situations, and frequent injuries or scars as possible signs of a problem at home. There may also be more overt signs of abuse, such as indications of unhealthy possessiveness or harassment by a significant other.

2. Respond to the employee.

Express concern about your observations in private with the employee, but don’t directly assume that there is a problem. Rather, keep your dialogue open-ended and unassuming (i.e. “I’ve noticed a change in your behavior lately…”). Reassure the employee that the conversation will be confidential and that you are there to help and support them and ensure their safety and well-being. You may also consider working out a temporary flexible work arrangement with the employee to help her cope with her situation.

3. Redirect the employee to people that can help.

Referring employees to proper resources is essential. These resources may include employee assistance programs, personal or medical leave, counselors and medical providers, shelters, or legal resources (such as law enforcement) to help employees get the assistance they need. If the situation poses immediate risks to your employee or organization, you may consider centralizing their phone calls or changing their phone number, moving the employee’s desk or workspace, providing temporary housing, or creating a contingency plan in the event of an emergency. Employers can find other information here to help them deal with domestic violence’s effects on their workplace.

4. Prevent it from happening.

Like workplace violence, the best way to stop domestic violence is to prevent it in the first place by educating employees on ways to protect themselves in violent situations and keep themselves safe either through training, educational literature, or other means. Creating a domestic violence policy is also another way you can proactively ensure employees’ safety. Such a policy may include:

    • A definition of domestic violence
    • Promise of confidentiality
    • Who employees should tell if they are being abused
    • How absences and/or temporary relocation will be handled
    • If and when employees can use leave for domestic violence
    • Certification process for leave (if needed or required)
    • Process by which employees can obtain services or assistance via the company

Like it or not and as uncomfortable as these issues may be, workplace and domestic violence are key issues that could or may already be affecting your workforce, their productivity, performance, and safety. The best way to stop workplace or domestic violence is to prevent it in the first place. This starts with identifying risks, implementing policies and procedures, and providing education and the resources that your employees can access to help themselves stay safe.  There’s no greater gift you can provide your employees than the ability to keep themselves safe this holiday season. You may just save a life.

Additional Resources

Preferred Partner: Ease@Work

ERC’s Preferred Partner, Ease@Work, provides employee assistance services to companies throughout Ohio with employees throughout the United States. Their services provide counseling and critical incident support to your employees in times of need. Any ERC member is offered one free management consultation regarding how to handle a sensitive employee issue.

Manufacturers More Likely to Address Workplace Violence & Bullying

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 According to the 2011 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report, a higher percentage of manufacturers addressed workplace violence or bullying in their employee handbooks compared to other industries. Eighty percent of NorthCoast 99 winners in the manufacturing industry reported having a workplace violence or bullying policy, compared to 68% of winners overall.

Only half of winners in the finance, legal, and management services industry acknowledged having a workplace violence or bullying policy in their employee handbook. In the health and human services industry, 60% of NorthCoast 99 winners addressed violence or bullying, while 69% of winners in the marketing, technology, and architectural industry reported having a workplace violence or bullying policy.

Workplace violence and bullying are serious issues that can occur anywhere and at any time, but some work environments are more susceptible to violence and bullying. Work environments that have more exposure to external visitors, conflict, or stress are generally more prone to violence and bullying. Employers in these types of organizations must address violence and bullying early on by implementing policies and procedures and providing training and education that support a safe place to work.

For more information or to purchase NorthCoast 99 Winners Reports, please click here.

Bullying in the Workplace

4 Musts for Retaining Employees

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A flurry of resignations hits your HR department or you could be facing an epidemic of employees that have “quit and stayed.” These are employees who feel trapped (and perhaps even miserable) at their organizations, but are afraid to leave or explore the job market.

These are two common scenarios that many organizations are experiencing this year. Retention of great talent has become a major issue affecting a number of organizations. Before your organization hastily decides to launch a series of HR initiatives to address your retention problems, look first to these four areas of your business.

1. Look at their job

When faced with the red flag of potential turnover, take a hard look at their job first. Is the job playing to their strengths? Could the employee be used in more productive ways that would improve their engagement and is their job naturally progressing with more responsibility and challenge? Most employees need to feel a sense of importance in their work – that their skills and abilities are being put to good use, that they are doing something meaningful with their time, and that they have a say in decisions and how their work is produced. Consistently ranked as the most important attribute among top performers and a key driver of engagement, there is no substitute for making challenging and meaningful work the first priority when solving a retention problem. The job is usually the best place to start.

2. Look at their manager

Employees leave managers, not organizations. Employees are more likely to stay when they are treated in a supportive manner by their boss. In fact, this concept of feeling supported has been time-tested and is consistently found to be the leading indicator of whether employees stay engaged and committed. Support is most commonly manifested in how managers interact with their employees – whether employees are receiving the right amount of interaction and flexibility, the resources they need, help solving problems, and recognition and appreciation. So ask yourself: do employees have a positive relationship with their supervisor and do they feel supported by them in their job, career, and even personally? Consider whether the employee’s manager is doing everything they can to support employees and make them feel valued and confident in themselves.

3. Look at their opportunities

Numerous studies link the relationship between confidence and retention. Generally-speaking, employees will leave their employers for other opportunities. The more confident employees are in their prospects for continued employment and advancement opportunities, and their ability to earn more pay over time, the more likely they are to stay. You can help build a sense of confidence by emphasizing the organization’s success and long-term strategy and discussing advancement opportunities and career paths periodically. The bottom line is that you must give employees confidence that their career will thrive at your organization and that you are prepared to offer those opportunities.  Many organizations fear committing to providing a certain career path to their employees. The reality is that if you don’t, some other organization will.

4. Look at your competitors

Even when the job, manager, and opportunities are aligned with retention, sometimes competitors’ practices snatch a great performer. With pay information publically available on the internet to employees, an influx of passive recruiting via social media, and more employers heavily branding their workplace and culture as great places to work, your organization is constantly at risk of losing its best people. If your organization has fallen behind in terms of making sure its pay and benefits align with those of other businesses, make sure it stacks up before it’s too late. Get to know your competitors’ HR practices intimately and adjust yours if it makes sense.

Contrary to most popular beliefs, retention usually isn’t complex. It’s not a complicated formula requiring a multitude of HR initiatives. It usually comes down to whether employees are doing challenging and interesting work, being supported by their boss, seeing opportunities and security, and receiving fair pay and benefits in comparison to what is offered elsewhere.

Additional Resources

Talent & Performance Management Consulting Services
When it comes to managing talent retention, there are a variety of programs and initiatives to consider including employee engagement surveys, performance management, rewards and recognition programs, succession planning, mentoring and career development programs, job description updates, and exit interviews. To learn more about how ERC can assist you with these consulting projects, please contact consulting@yourerc.com.

FMLA for Domestic Violence?

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The Domestic Violence Leave Act (H.R. 3151) was introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California in June. She reintroduced it on Oct. 11 in light of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This legislation would allow employees to take lave under FMLA to address acts of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking aimed at themselves, a spouse (including domestic partners and same sex-sex spouses), parent or child.

FMLA leave could be used to seek medical attention for injuries; obtain legal assistance or remedies; participate in a legal proceeding; attend support groups or therapy; and participate in safety planning, among other related activities held during work hours. An employee would be able to substitute paid leave for the leave provided under this bill.

An employer would be entitled to seek certification that the employee is legitimately taking FMLA leave for the reasons outlined in the measure, but would be required to keep such information confidential. In lieu of written documentation, such as police reports or witness statements, an employee would be able to satisfy the certification requirement by providing a written statement describing the reason for taking leave.

The text of this bill already has been incorporated into a more extensive leave bill – the Balancing Act of 2011 (H.R. 2346) – Rep. Woolsey introduced in June. Yet another measure, the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1876, S. 984) introduced in May, would require employers to provide paid sick leave as well as paid leave for employees who are the victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.

For more information on proposed Domestic Violence Leave Act please visit:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-3151

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