Local Trends in Compensation Policies & Strategies

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According to a research study conducted by ERC, the majority of employers (58%) have no written compensation policy. Twenty-percent of respondents indicate having a compensation policy that is confidential, and 21% have a written or published policy that is made available or distributed to employees.

Despite not having a compensation policy, 62% of employers report having a strategy to stay even with the area labor market and 49% have a strategy to stay even with industry competitors.

ERC's HR Help Desk notes that “the foundation of an effective compensation system is a philosophy, policy, and strategy for how your organization will pay employees relative to the market – whether that is above, at, or below market rates. This helps HR make decisions about pay and guides an organization’s compensation practices."

Additional Resources

6 New Ways to Contribute to Your Company

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Strategic thinking means focusing on the desired plans and results of your organization and integrating this focus into the overall goals of your job and team. Increasingly, this type of thinking is necessary at all levels of the organization – not just at the top – and can greatly enhance your career. Here are some easy ways that any employee can become more strategic in their role.

1. Gain a broad understanding of your business.

Obtaining a broader understanding of all of the major business areas of your organization and how they operate helps you understand the needs and demands of other departments. There are several ways you can accomplish this. You may seek out opportunities for cross-training, lateral career development, or job rotation; shadow a strategic thinker or seek one out as a mentor or coach; and develop relationships and connections across business units, divisions, and departments. With more knowledge of other departments, you increase your ability to make good decisions, solve problems more effectively, and become a more valued contributor.

2. Recognize the priorities of your business.

Strive to understand the short and long-term strategy of the business as well as its vision for the future. Where is it headed now and in the future? What is it trying to accomplish? What is the big picture? Continue to ask questions about the direction of the organization, even when leaders to not explicitly communicate it. You may consider keeping a list of these priorities handy so that you are constantly reminded of the organization’s objectives.

3. Link your activities and goals to the business objectives.

Your business’s priorities should guide the goals you set and your day-to-day activities and tasks. When creating your own goals (or department’s), choose objectives that align with your organization’s objectives and priorities. This means that they should link to the bigger picture. For example, if your organization is focused on improving revenue or improving efficiency, your goals should line up with this objective. Oftentimes, we may create our own personal and professional goals in a vacuum, not considering the implications or priorities of the business. This hurts the business and ourselves, limiting our strategic potential and derailing us from the organization’s direction.

4. Expose yourself to different business challenges and demands.

Exercise your mind and career. By working on challenging business projects outside of your area of expertise, you become exposed to new problems, people, and experiences – all of which can help deepen your strategic thinking skills. Additionally, find ways to work on cross-functional teams and initiatives that expose you to different perspectives on business problems. Also, it’s important to find ways to reduce tactical components of your job so that you have more time for planning and strategic activities that will enrich your career. Become comfortable with new technology, processes, and efficiencies. Finally, volunteer experience within committees, boards, and leadership roles can all help strengthen your strategic mindset.

5. Focus on strategic tasks.

The main difference between strategic and non-strategic tasks and activities are the reasons for doing the tasks and the outcomes. For example, non-strategic actions are not driven by an identified and measurable business need, while strategic actions are. With strategic tasks, some data, observation, or information suggests a business need to take a certain action. In addition, strategic actions tend to be driven by or result in a measurable business outcome – such as better performance, improved retention, enhanced productivity, and achievement of an organizational objective. Non-strategic tasks do not have as much value to the business and are generally more reactive than proactive. Examples of such tasks are below:

6. Anticipate problems, trends, and needs.

A final tip for enhancing your strategic thinking skills is to improve your anticipation of changes, potential problems, and trends in the market, economy, and the needs of your customers. For example, if you are a manager, you may anticipate changes in staff, workload, and performance requirements. If you are an HR professional, you may anticipate new benefit, compensation, or other rewards trends; the need to hire additional staff or obtain needed skills through training and development initiatives; or plan leadership development initiative to support succession in the organization.

Strategic thinkers are needed at all levels of the organization – not just the top level - including HR, managers, and professionals. By improving your skills you can be more valued and achieve greater accomplishments within your organization.

For help with strategic HR initiatives such as performance management, workforce planning, succession planning, or employee engagement, please contact consulting@yourerc.com.

Preliminary Findings: Intern & Recent Grad Survey

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The preliminary findings of the 2011 ERC/NOCHE Intern/Recent Grad Pay Rates & Practices Survey show several trends in intern and recent grad employment and compensation practices.

  • Over 70% of employers plan to increase or maintain the number of interns they employ, consistent with trends seen over the past three years.
  • 68% of employers are in the process of hiring or have plans to hire new college graduates this year.
  • Organizations are increasingly using interns and new graduates to develop their talent pipeline rather than using them for simply workforce support and special projects.
  • Nearly three-quarters of employers say that they offer at least some of their interns employment after the internship.
  • Work experience is becoming an even more crucial criterion for employers when hiring interns, rising in importance from years past.

View the Intern & Recent Graduate Pay Rates & Practices Survey

This survey reports data from Northeast Ohio employers about their internship and recent graduate employment and pay practices.

View the Results

Survey Shows Trends in Local Hiring Metrics

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The 2011 ERC Hiring & Selection Practices Survey shows several trends in hiring metrics such as time to fill, time to start, cost of hire, offer acceptance rates, and vacancy rates that help employers benchmark their hiring practices against other local organizations.

The survey’s results show that the average time to fill an open position is 52 days. Positions with the highest average time to fill were executive, engineering, and management positions, while positions with the lowest time to fill were production, maintenance, customer service, and administrative/clerical jobs.

Additionally, the 2011 survey reports that the average time to start is 14 days for employers. This timeframe was consistent across most employers. This reflects the average number of days between offer acceptance and the employee’s first day on the job. Lower vacancy rates were reported by employers of 11 days on average.

The 2011 survey’s results also indicate the average cost of hire for respondent, which is $2,233.

5 Ways to Know Your Training Dollars Paid Off

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As a business leader, you foot the bill for training, but how do you know you’re getting your money’s worth? You can, and should, rely on your in-house trainers and external suppliers to provide quality, meaningful training. But as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…

The good news is…you, as a business leader, are in the ideal position to increase the likelihood that the skills learned in class will transfer to the job. In fact, research suggests 2 of the 3 most important roles related to training are #1 – Manager Before and #3 – Manager After. In other words, what the manager does before and after training contributes most to whether or not the training is ‘transferred’ (a.k.a. applied).

Here are five pretty painless ways to make that happen…

  1. Participate. Ask for an executive overview of the training – for yourself and/or the managers of those being trained. The supplier, for example, would spend 30 minutes or so walking you through the program, including key learning points, models or techniques taught, application exercises used to help participants experience and retain the concepts, etc. You would receive a participant workbook and any job aides or handouts. Ideally, the executive overview precedes the training. This gives you the opportunity to request that certain points be emphasized or aligned with current business priorities. It also positions you to reinforce the new behaviors after the training.  
  2. Model. Select one aspect of the training that resonates with you, apply it to your role, and start practicing it. It could be anything from using the Situation-Behavior-Impact feedback model, to documenting performance expectations for your direct reports, to starting every company-wide meeting by publicly recognizing a handful of employees who have exceeded goals, to authoring a blog to keep employees ‘in the know’.
  3. Reward. Allocate a small sum of money to be used to reinforce the demonstration of behaviors and skills learned in training for 90 days following. Have managers of the participants partner with the facilitators to generate a short list of behaviors/skills to be rewarded. Publicize to participants that managers will be on the lookout to ‘catch’ them doing things ‘right’ and distributing rewards accordingly.
  4. Ask. ‘Walk the floor’, asking employees about the training…what they learned, what was most valuable, what they applied, how it worked, etc. Once employees learn they will be held accountable, they will be more likely to put the training to use.
  5. Connect. Tie the training to related initiatives, facilitating immediate application. For example, train employees on writing and delivering performance reviews just before they are due, train employees on goal setting at the beginning of the year, train employees on communication and team building at the start of a large organization-wide project, etc. Time the training and ‘tee it up’ by communicating why it’s being offered, why it’s important, and what related activity will immediately follow that calls for those skills. Having a senior leader endorse the training at the beginning of class is a great strategy too.

Leaders are like the media…they ‘tell’ us what to pay attention to and talk about. Take advantage of your role; try out these five easy steps. You will be amazed at how much more value you will get out of your training investment. And, who knows, you may even find a new technique that produces returns for you, too!

 

5 Common Management Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)

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5 Common Management Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)

Trainers often get the chance to see firsthand what can happen when a breakdown in communication occurs between employees and their supervisors.

A woman once approached an ERC Trainer during a break in the training session who was very emotional and teary eyed. In her seven years with the company, not once had her boss asked how her weekend was. Her boss was a driver, with a direct, ‘Don’t waste my time, I don’t want to know about your personal life’ kind of attitude.

At a superficial level, that seems fine but employees sometimes feel they need interpersonal communication to achieve a certain level of trust. If an employee feels that their supervisor doesn’t care about them, they can become disengaged and even tune the boss out.

Maintaining good lines of communication is just one challenge managers and supervisors face. The management of conflict and performance, and management of potential liabilities can be tough hurdles to clear, too.

Failing to address any of these issues can lead to damaging consequences for an organization. Companies, though, can be proactive in avoiding these pitfalls through the support and development of their managers.

Here are 5 common challenges for managers and supervisors—and some practical ways to deal with them.

Communicate.

Managers frequently are not aware of the quality of their communication or, as the above example illustrates, how their communication or interpersonal style are perceived by their employees.

You can help managers understand their unique communication and interpersonal style and how to “flex” this style in different situations by providing communication templates, scripts, tips or checklists.

Engage in role-play or dialogue with the manager to help them practice their skills and identify opportunities for improvement. Additionally, educate managers on common communication breakdowns and how to avoid them and encourage managers to notice signs of communication problems (misunderstandings, consistent performance problems, etc.).

When all else fails, provide a personal coach if communication problems persist

Resolve conflict.

Many managers ignore problems and do not directly address conflicts with their employees or work team.

Whether these are performance problems, conflicts among team members, issues of trust or personality clashes, managers are challenged to confront and address problems head-on and as they emerge, diffuse employees’ feelings and emotions about the problem, listen to both parties’ needs and desires, derive win-win solutions that lead to more productive and positive work relations, and prevent conflict in the future by nurturing positive coworker relationships and recognizing potential for conflict or problems early.

Manage performance.       

Managers must balance meeting goals, managing workloads and motivating employees. These issues, coupled with the fact that many managers are ill-equipped to provide regular and constructive feedback and may not understand the importance of documenting performance, can make managing performance challenging.

To support them, build on-going performance feedback into the performance management process to ensure accountability. Create an easy method for managers to document performance like a database, log, or diary. Provide support tools for managers such as rewards, recognition, training, and development to recognize and build performance. Most importantly, train managers in topics such as performance management, coaching, and feedback since many will have had no experience with these.

Handle protected employees.

Most managers are not well-versed in administering ADA, FMLA and other laws that protect certain groups of employees, but unknowingly find themselves managing an employee who requires an accommodation, leave of absence or falls into a protected class.

These situations need to be handled delicately due to their legal nature, so make managers aware of:

  • Legal basics such as conditions or disabilities that are protected
  • How to determine essential functions and reasonable accommodations
  • Requirements associated with FMLA (eligibility, length of time, etc.)
  • Types of employees that are protected under law (gender, race, national origin, etc.)
  • Hiring and interviewing liabilities (questions to ask/not ask, etc.)

Administer policies fairly and consistently.

One of the most common challenges for managers is treating employees fairly and consistently. A manager may allow policies and rules to be disregarded by some employees and not others—or may disregard employment policies altogether. “Stretching” the rules for some employees can open up a range of potential liabilities and perceptions of bias and favoritism that have negative far-reaching effects in the workplace.

Be sure to write clear policies and let managers know when changes have been made. Set clear criteria for making employment decisions, particularly where managers need to distinguish between employees (recognition, reward, development, etc.). Also, clearly differentiate between the policies in which managers have discretion to implement and those in which they do not.

Interested in learning more about training your supervisors?

Submit your contact information and receive instant access to a video highlighting our process and a brochure featuring our courses, delivery methods, and success stories.

Preview Supervisory Training

 

8 Resources Every HR Professional Should Know About

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We’ve compiled a collection of eight (8) of our favorite HR resources – free comprehensive tools and information that many of our members find valuable for common tasks like staying compliant, administering FMLA, or finding and supporting employees.

1. Staying Legally Compliant

The Department of Labor (DOL) offers a variety of e-law Advisors, interactive tools that provide information about a number of federal employment laws. Employers typically find these tools very helpful in providing greater understanding of compliance and employment law information. Specific e-law Advisors include FLSA, H1-B, Health Benefits Advisor, OSHA, Drug Free Workplace, Contractor Compliance, and more. Similarly, the DOL also provides an Employment Law Guide that helps employers create policies for their handbook.

2. Accommodating Employees

Employers frequently need to support employees through difficult conditions and circumstances. Whether you’re accommodating employees to be compliant or to better support employees as you create a great place to work, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is an ideal resource that provides ideas and examples on what level of accommodations and flexibility are appropriate for different situations. It also helps employers better understand a variety of disabilities and psychological/medical conditions that impact their workforce.

3. Administering FMLA

Leave administration, particularly FMLA, is one of employers’ greatest responsibilities and challenges. Employers are frequently looking for resources surrounding administration of this law to help them administer it. This site is one of our members’ favorites as it highlights all of the most common forms, fact sheets, and general guidance for administering family medical leave required by the law.

4. Creating and Updating Job Descriptions

O*Net is a comprehensive, free resource for job analysis and job description information. It provides detailed information including a summary of a job, alternate job titles, tasks, tools and technology used, knowledge, skills, abilities, work activities, and work context. It even contains information on interests, work styles, work values, wages and employment trends, and education/training requirements relevant to a specific job. The tool is useful for employers that are creating job descriptions and supports a range of other HR functions like hiring and performance management. The Dictionary of Occupational Job Titles is also another ideal resource for job related information, included within O*Net.

5. Developing Employees

Career One-Stop has all the components of a comprehensive career development service (without the cost). Employees can explore careers, assess themselves, write job descriptions, evaluate and profile their skills, and find developmental programs and resources. This tool, as well as the Ohio Workforce Informer, Riley Guide, and BLS Career Guide to Industries, are other valuable career development tools for employees to utilize when developing themselves and can complement employers’ career development programs.

6. Staffing and Workforce Planning

Employers often seek information about local employment trends that impact their business for staffing and workforce planning purposes. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) provides ideal national information for this purpose, most organizations don’t realize that the state of Ohio provides a labor market website that details information about local employment trends and projections, current employment statistics, supply and demand, and skills/training. In addition, Ohio Means Jobs is a free website to search for candidates and post jobs that also helps employers recruit and staff.

7. Auditing Wage & Hour Practices

FLSA compliance is one of ERC’s most common questions and an area where many employers may find themselves non-compliant. In the event of a Wage & Hour audit, the DOL provides a checklist of items requested. This checklist is not only ideal for organizations being audited by the DOL, but also for those that want to prepare for an audit. You can download this checklist here.

8. Posting Requirements

The DOL makes posting requirements available to employers including information about what organizations must post, citations and penalties, and other information. Click here to view these requirements. Employers can also download PDF posters on this site.

In conclusion, the Department of Labor and other governmental agencies can offer free resources and support for your organization. With vast amounts of information, online tools, free training and webinars, and access to experts, they can be very helpful for employers and particularly HR departments – often in ways that many organizations don’t anticipate.

Additional Resources

HR Training
Gain even more crucial skills and resources to be successful in your HR role through various ERC HR training courses. For more information on these informative training courses which cover all aspects of HR including employment law, compensation, benefits, performance management, orientation, communication, please click here. To view other upcoming HR programs, click here.

HR Help Desk
ERC’s Help Desk staff is exceptional at working with governmental agencies to answer employers’ questions, resolve problems, and locate information, resources, and forms to meet your needs – especially when you don’t have time to do the research yourself. Just e-mail hrhelp@yourerc.com for assistance.

HR Practices
Benchmark how your HR practices compare to other Northeast Ohio employers by participating in our Policies and Benefits Survey. This survey covers benefits, compensation, recruiting, hiring, communication, training, development, and safety practices. Click here to participate.

Other HR Resources
In addition to resources discussed in this article, ERC members enjoy an array of additional resources related to compensation, benefits, and policy information; HR Help Desk service, sample forms, job descriptions, and policies; cost-savings (and free services provided by some of our Preferred Partners); and more. Click here to find out more about the benefits of being an ERC member.

 

Hiring & Selection Practices Survey Results

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This report summarizes the results of ERC’s survey of 117 organizations in Northeast Ohio, conducted in February of 2011, on practices related to hiring and selection.

The survey reports trends in:

  • General selection methods
  • Reference, background, and credit checks
  • Drug tests
  • Employment tests
  • Pre-screening interviews
  • Hiring decisions
  • Sign-on and employee referral bonuses
  • Introductory periods
  • Hiring metrics
  • Hiring projections

 

11-Hiring-Selection-Practices-Survey.pdf (174.54 kb)

Easy Ways to Keep the Generations Engaged

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The concept of Employee Engagement has grown significantly in popularity over the years. Research shows that more traditional concepts of employee opinion or employee satisfaction don’t necessarily correlate to the likelihood that employees will stay and thrive, go above and beyond their primary job duties, or recommend the company’s products and services to customers. But those are the very definitions of employee engagement.  Research also shows that top performers tend to be more engaged than average or low performers and they out-produce their counterparts. So, the question is NOT whether keeping workers engaged is important or not.  Most senior leaders today would agree it is. The million dollar question is ‘HOW do we engage our workers’? Or, more pointedly, ‘How do we engage what is now a very diverse workforce’? We don’t all follow the beat of the same drum. (Some of us have trouble deciphering text messages from Millennials, let alone producing a beat they might follow!). But if we study what’s important to the generations and we study what influences engagement, we find quite a bit of overlap and some pretty easy ‘fixes.’

For example, the Traditionalists (born before 1946) tend to be driven by formal, public recognition, leadership roles, and responsibility. These are likely the folks who’ve been with your organization for many years, perhaps approaching retirement. They may feel that ‘No one cares what we think and what we know; no one asks us for feedback anymore.’ In most cases, they are storehouses of undocumented information about the company, products and services, customers, and processes. Often they are underutilized, disengaged resources.

A great way to engage this group is to establish them as mentors. Serving as a mentor meets Traditionalists’ needs for leadership, responsibility, and recognition, and mentoring is a key driver of employee engagement.  Whom should they mentor? The Millennials (born between 1982 – 2000). A recent study discovered that unlike previous generations who joined and identified with a company, this generation identifies with a person, specifically a leader. They want their own workplace and career tour guide. They look for someone to connect with whom they can learn from and who will champion them and their career. Who better to provide that connection than their own dedicated mentor? Plus, tenured mentors can learn a lot from the Millennials too.  In fact, pairing people strategically to ensure mutual benefit is a key to the success of this type of initiative. Be sure to take personality, workstyle, skill set, background, and interests into account, and give both mentors and mentees choices in partnering. Finally, to ensure engagement is impacted, both mentor and mentee should benefit from job challenges, training, recognition, development and growth, and autonomy as part of the mentoring experience.

Baby Boomers are motivated by recognition, taking charge, making a difference, teaming, personal growth, health and wellness, autonomy and creativity, competition and success. If they aren’t already formal leaders in your organization, these are ideal people for informal leadership roles. Engage them by asking them to ‘chair’ initiatives that matter to them. Projects involving wellness, community outreach, and the ‘customer experience’ are good examples.  The key to this approach is how you go about it. Let them choose the initiatives they want to be involved in. Appoint them as chair or leader as a form of recognition. Do it publicly. Allow them to form a team to work with. Provide the ‘what’ (the high-level goal), but let them decide on the ‘how’. When creating informal, meaningful leadership roles for Boomers, a few key elements must be present in order to impact engagement, including recognition, co-worker cohesion, and autonomy.

Last but not least, what about those strong-willed, independent Gen Xers? The areas of overlap between what engages workers in general and what drives Gen Xers in particular include challenging work, training, recognition and reward, a good relationship with their boss, coworker cohesion, and development and growth opportunities. In short, this group wants to feel as though they’ve ‘made it.’ With them, keep it high profile and you’ll keep them engaged. Here are some ways to do that:  allow them to work on company-wide challenges or the newest, most high profile venture. Ensure they have opportunities to interact with senior leaders. If their boss is not a strong, well-respected leader pair them with an internal mentor who is. If they are capable, put them on a fast track to assume a management/leadership role. Give them stretch goals and meaningful rewards such as bonuses, time off, and recognition. Permit them to attend off-site training or conferences, obtain certifications or pursue a degree. Ensure they work in areas of the organization where they have peers they can partner with, learn from and befriend.

Engaging your workforce in alignment with their generation-based needs is one way to maximize your organization’s return on your leadership investment. Committing to trying just a few ideas to better engage your employees can have real impact.  Many great leaders are said to have done some sort of personal accounting at the end of each day. When you leave your office each day, ask yourself….did I give my employees one more reason to go or one more reason to stay?

More Employers Have Space and Policies for Nursing Mothers

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The 2010 ERC Health Care Reform Issues Survey shows that the regulations imposed by the health care reform law appear to have influenced Northeast Ohio employers’ practices for nursing mothers. When compared to 2009, nearly all (98%) employers surveyed now have space set aside for nursing mothers, compared to only 79% of employers in 2009. All respondents with fewer than 100 employees and over 500 employees had these spaces.

Similarly, many more employers (28%) have nursing mothers’ policies in place compared to 2009 (6%). Larger organizations (over 500 employees) were more likely to have nursing mother policies compared to smaller organizations (fewer than 100 employees).

The survey’s results show that since the law’s regulations went into place in 2010, which required employers to provide nursing mothers with reasonable break time for nursing activities and functional space to do so, employers have changed many of their practices relative to nursing mothers.