3 Surprising Social Media Uses for HR

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3 Surprising Social Media Uses for HR

When we hear "social media" and "HR" in the same sentence, it's usually in a negative context. "How can we keep employees off of social media at work?" or "I saw something bad on a candidates social media profile, what do I do now?"

But social media can also be used creatively in several areas of the HR function. Consider the following uses for social media that you may not have considered:

Employee Communications

Communicating important inner-office or organizational updates to employees often falls upon HR departments. The standard mass email can be a great medium for getting a quick message out, but what if your communications requires more collaboration, input or feedback?
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What is Organizational Climate?

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What is Organizational Climate?

Perhaps one of the most important and significant characteristics of a great workplace is its organizational climate.

Organizational climate, while defined differently by many researchers and scholars, generally refers to the degree to which an organization focuses on and emphasizes:
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Span of Control: How Many Employees Should Your Supervisors Manage?

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Span of Control How Many Employees Should Your Supervisors Manage supervising employees effectively ideal span of control

How many employees do your supervisors manage? Has your organization considered the effects of what narrow or wide supervisory and managerial spans of control mean for your employees and the levels of support and empowerment they receive on-the-job?

Have you considered how your decisions regarding the number of levels of reporting in your organization and given to your supervisors and managers influence job satisfaction, communication practices, and your overall organizational culture? The structure of your organization matters for these reasons and more.

Defining span of control

Span of control refers to the number of subordinates that can be managed effectively and efficiently by supervisors or managers in an organization. Typically, it is either narrow or wide resulting in a flatter or more hierarchical organizational structure. Each type has its inherent advantages and disadvantages.

Narrow Span

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Have more levels of reporting in the organization, resulting in a more heirarchical organization
  • Supervisors can spend time with employees and supervise them more closely
  • Creates more development, growth, and advancement opportunities
  • More expensive (high cost of management staff, office, etc.)
  • More supervisory involvement in work could lead to less empowerment and delegation and more micromanagement
  • Tends to result in communication difficulties and excessive distance between the top and bottom levels in the organization

Wide Span

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Have fewer levels of reporting in the organization, resulting in a more flexible, flatter organization
  • Ideal for supervisors mainly responsible for answering questions and helping to solve employees problems
  • Encourages empowerment of employees by giving more responsibility, delegation and decision-making power to them
  • Tends to result in greater communication efficiencies and frequent exposure to the top level of the organization
  • May lead to overloaded supervisors if employees require much task direction, support, and supervision
  • May not provide adequate support to employees leading to decreased morale or job satisfaction

Optimal span of control

Three or four levels of reporting typically are sufficient for most organizations, while four to five are generally sufficient for all organizations but the largest organizations (Hattrup, 1993). This is consistent with ERC’s survey findings as well. Ideally in an organization, according to modern organizational experts is approximately 15 to 20 subordinates per supervisor or manager. However, some experts with a more traditional focus believe that 5-6 subordinates per supervisor or manager is ideal. In general, however, optimum span of control depends on various factors including:

  • Organization size: The size of an organization is a great influencer. Larger organizations tend to have wider spans of control than smaller organizations.
  • Nature of an organization: The culture of an organization can influence; a more relaxed, flexible culture is consistent with wider; while a hierarchical culture is consistent with narrow. It is important to consider the current and desired culture of the organization when determining.
  • Nature of job: Routine and low complexity jobs/tasks require less supervision than jobs that are inherently complicated, loosely defined and require frequent decision making. Consider wider for jobs requiring less supervision and narrower for more complex and vague jobs.
  • Skills and competencies of manager: More experienced supervisors or managers can generally be wider than less experienced supervisors. It’s best to also consider to what degree supervisors and managers are responsible for technical aspects of the job (non-managerial duties).
  • Employees skills and abilities: Less experienced employees require more training, direction, and delegation (closer supervision, narrow); whereas more experienced employees requires less training, direction, and delegation (less supervision, wider).
  • Type of interaction between supervisors and employees: More frequent interaction/supervision is characteristic of a narrower.  Less interaction, such as supervisors primarily just answering questions and helping solve employee problems, is characteristic of a wider. The type of interaction you want your supervisors and managers to engage in with their employees should be consistent with the control they are given.

In addition, special consideration should be given to the direct reports of executive and senior management levels. Typically, the number of direct reports for these individuals are lower than supervisors and managers as too many direct reports at these levels can complicate communication and lengthen response time for crucial decisions.  


  • Bell, R. R. & McLaughlin, F. S. (1977). Span of control in organizations. Industrial Management.
  • Davison, B. (2003). Management span of control: how wide is too wide? Journal of Business Strategy.
  • Gupta, A. (2010). Organization’s size and span of control. Practical Management: Transforming Theories into Practice.
  • Hattrup, G. P. (1993). How to establish the proper span of control for managers. Industrial Management.
  • Juneja, H. Span of control in an organization.

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A New Kind of Skills Gap

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A New Kind of Skills Gap

A popular catch-phrase, and somewhat counter-intuitive concept given the unemployment rate in past years, the “skills gap” is a major stumbling block along the path to economic recovery for employers, education institutions, and new job seekers alike.

In the most traditional sense, this gap is simply a disconnect between the skills or areas of study being selected or taught to students and the skills required in the jobs employers are trying to fill to fit their business needs. However, in a 2014 survey published by The Economist Intelligence Unit employers report a somewhat different kind of skills gap between their desired skill set and that of the new college graduates they are encountering as job applicants.
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5 Successful Retirement Parties Ideas

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5 Successful Retirement Parties Ideas

Over the course of the next 19 years, every day more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the age of 65. America’s largest generation is not only aging, but in fact retiring.

Retirement is a big deal. It marks the start of a new chapter in someone’s life and the end of their career, or perhaps the start of a new career. So of course, with big life changes comes a celebration: a retirement party.

Retirement parties are a great way for an organization to show its appreciation to the retiree. They put a lot of hard work into your company over the years, so it’s nice to do more than just a cake and say ‘see you later.’ No matter what, a retirement party should reflect the retiree’s character, career, interests or hobbies. Here are some ideas to really make a retirement party stand out and memorable for the retiree.  

1. Starting off on the right foot

Guests should be welcomed by fun decorations and food. Colorful streamers and balloons are a great touch. Also, make sure to have a small speech ready at the beginning to welcome guests to the retirement party. Light should be thrown on the retiree’s many accomplishments, making the retiree feel special and accomplished for their many years of work. For more ideas of some fun activities, visit our Pinterest page.

Also, make sure to have a theme. Since a lot of retirees move south after retirement, it may be nice to have a beach theme, equipped with inflatable palm trees and Hawaiian leis.

Another fun touch is to have cookies made to look like the retiree. Parker’s Crazy Cookies specialize in look-a-like cookies that will surly make the retiree feel like the guest of honor.  

2. Invite their family members

This is a special time for the retiree, so having his or her family present will really make this moment stand out for them. Arrange to have the retiree’s spouse or children make a small speech. This puts a personal touch on the celebration. Make sure the speech stays light, and then change the topic to the retirees’ next chapter. Retirement is a new beginning as much as it is an ending.

3. Walk down memory lane

Trace the retiree’s career path from their first teenage job, all the way to now. It would be fun to see where they started, where they thought they were going to end up, and where they did actually end their career. To add to the excitement, put together a video or photo collage with the retiree’s pictures from birth, up to now. Highlight the years the retiree has worked for the company. You can also double the pictures as table decorations and add in meaningful quotes and funny messages.

4. Bucket List

After the retiree has had a chance to catch up on the missed sleep, T.V. shows, and golf games, they need a list of adventures to tackle- a bucket list. Have a bucket out with note cards for other employees to make suggestions for the retiree to do once they have no other obligations. This is a fun way to get people talking and getting creative. Also, it will give the retiree a good laugh when they get a chance to read some of the suggestions.

5. Gifts

Sure, a cake is great to have, but giving a cake as your last present to a coworker that has put many years into the business is not a very grand way of saying “Job well done.” Instead, look for something that maybe interests the employee, such as a new fishing pole with tackle supplies, a year-subscription to a book club, or maybe a weekend vacation to a local resort for them and their family.

Retirement parties are meant to be fun and memorable, especially for the retiree. The emotional side of the event should be kept to a minimum, because you don’t want to make the retiree sad or feel resentment for making the big decision to leave his/her career.

Like any party, a successful retirement party is the result of careful planning and attention to detail, but well worth the effort. The overall goal of the party is to make it a fun event for the guests and retiree. No matter what kind of celebration you choose to throw, big or small, it should honor the retiree and express appreciation for their years of hard work, as well as wishing the retiree a very successful and fun retirement.

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The Power of Lean for HR

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The Power of Lean for HR

Lean concepts have been around for quite some time—starting in the auto manufacturing industry. Even so, many companies today are just beginning to investigate what a Lean implementation could do for their business. No matter the company's industry—manufacturing, service, or otherwise—Lean processes offer organizations of all types and sizes methods to identify and reduce waste, which positively impacts your employees, customers, and the bottom line.

Tom Ault, ERC's Director of Technical Training, brings a wealth of industry and technical experience to our members and clients' fingertips. With a solid understanding of the financial and organization-wide impacts training has on a business, Tom works to identify continuous improvement needs and deliver custom solutions based on each company's specific situation.

The following interview with Tom reveals some of the basic principles and benefits of Lean, how it impacts the HR function, and why Lean should be an initiative to consider for your business.
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10 Summer Activities for the Workplace to Enjoy

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Now that the warm weather is here to stay (hopefully), it’s time to start planning those summer outings for your workplace. But why not do something a little outside of the usual picnic in the park idea? Here are some exciting and relatively inexpensive ideas, for you and your employees to enjoy this summer.

Beach Volleyball Game

Three things always go together in the summer—sun, sand, and water. So why not enjoy all three with a friendly game of beach volleyball? Your employees can bring hot dogs and hamburgers to cook out on at the local park’s grills while working up a sweat playing volleyball. Beaches, such as Battery Park, offer great volleyball courts, as well as benches and a pergola for those employees who just wish to be a cheerleader and soak up some sun. Either way, your employees will have fun playing or watching a game of volleyball, while enjoying the sun, Lake Erie, and some good food.
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11 Team Building Games and Activities

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There are a variety of reasons why companies use team building activities. They can improve communication, boost morale, motivate, be used as ice breakers and learning effective strategies, improve productivity, and teach people about each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

11 Team Building Games and Activities

The overall goal of these activities is to promote better teamwork in the workplace because great teamwork is the key to a successful business and reputation. There are four main types of team building activities:

These 11 activities are fun, challenging, and will have your company working on team building skills that can improve employees performance and productivity in the workplace. Not to mention they all are little to no cost!
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Intern Etiquette: Six Tips to take you from the Classroom to the Workplace

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It’s that time of year again. Students are putting together their polished resumes in the hopes of securing that coveted internship spot at their dream company. Unfortunately, a lot of students are not taught how to ace an internship interview while in the classroom. Here are some tips on how to stand out of the crowd and become a step closer to gaining more real world experience and starting your career.

1. Customize your resume

By all means, using a generic resume template to start is a great beginning, but employers don’t want to see how well you can copy and paste. Be sure once you read the internship description that you customize the objective and highlight the things on your resume that would apply to the position you are trying to get.
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How to Build a Tuition Assistance Program

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How to Build a Tuition Assistance Program

As college tuition rates continue to rise, offering employees an opportunity to go back to school and earn a bachelor or a master’s degree has increased in value. Many employers have taken advantage of the opportunity to boost their benefits package and offer tuition reimbursement to their employees.

According to the ERC 2013/2014 Policies & Benefits Survey, more than half of the participating employers offer a tuition reimbursement program to employees. If you are among the employers considering the option of offering this benefit, here are some questions and recommendations to consider when launching a tuition reimbursement program for your employees:
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