Tips for recruiting and hiring good employees and retaining the ones you have.

Why appreciation is important in the workplace

Have you ever felt unappreciated at work? Then you understand how important recognition in the workplace can be. Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work.

Gallup research finds that “only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days.” Employees often feel that their best efforts are routinely ignored. Those who do not feel adequately recognized say they are twice as likely to quit in the next year, research found. Read more

Morale may get a boost during March brackets, but try to minimize distractions

It’s here! March Madness is upon us and the bustle around your office involves which teams made the tournament, selecting brackets and game start times. While you may dread this time of year as a manager, this annual sporting event may not be as detrimental to office productivity as was once thought.

An OfficeTeam survey of 1,000 managers and 400 workers in office environments found that 11 percent of managers find March Madness activities to be a welcome diversion. Those managers believe the activity can increase teamwork and boost morale. Read more

Be ready when employees wonder ‘Should I stay, or should I go?’

If you talk to any business owner today and ask them what their biggest challenge is, they will likely say finding and keeping good people. They would engage you in a long conversation about the challenges they face when losing their good ones and how they have a very difficult time recruiting or finding replacements. This is a time and money drain for any organization.

Don’t wait until your good people leave to learn what it takes to keep employees or why they stayed as long as they did? Conducting “stay” interviews is an easy way to take the pulse of what is happening in your business. If you want more great people, simply ask your current great employees for their input. Stay interviews will help build employee engagement and foster a good culture as you build trust with employees.

How to get started

  • Select a few of your key employees and ask them to participate. You want more of these engaged and honest individuals on your team.
  • Explain why you are asking them to take part: that they are a valued member of the staff and that this is to help you retain and recruit more employees with their gifts and skills.
  • Conduct these stay interviews once or twice each year and do them within the same timeframe. Do not wait until employees become disengaged, or even worse, leave, to understand what’s going on.
  • Make it known you desire their honest feedback. That includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Employees must feel safe to express their opinions and that the manager will have an open mind and not get defensive. They should never feel there will be retribution for any of their comments.
  • Focus on the positives/wins that they express. Create and share your action plan from the results of the stay interviews. People want to know they have been heard and are making an impact.

Following is a list of the best questions to get the stay interview process started. They are open-ended, easy to ask, get the conversation energized questions, and the response will contain valuable insight and make a difference in keeping your employees.

  • What do you look forward to when you come to work?
  • Why do you stay working here?
  • Do you feel that we fully use your talents in your current role? Are their additional talents/interests/experiences that you could offer?
  • What are the frustrations or less desirable parts of your role that you would like to do less of?
  • What is an example of any recent recognition or acknowledgement that you received that increased your engagement to the company?

Make the process a win-win

Stay interviews are an inexpensive and effective way to drive your business improvements forward quickly. The management team receives honest feedback and the employee feels valued and empowered to help make the business better.

Take the feedback and put it into action. Communicate your actions with your company and recognize the impact the feedback has provided. It will be a win-win for both employer and employee.

Do you need additional help and tips for employee retention? Contact your BCN Services representative, your partner for all of your company’s HR needs.

Corey Decker, Sales Manger

Be proactive to keep job candidates interested in your company

With the U.S. unemployment rate at its lowest rate since 1969, employers find themselves in the hottest job market in decades and candidates are holding all the cards. Contacting potential candidates and following through to the hiring stage is becoming more and more difficult, and important, for employers.

A growing number of candidates are “ghosting’ their prospective employers, ignoring scheduled interviews, accepting offers but not showing up on the first day or work or even vanishing once hired for a position, giving little or no notice.

Act quickly: The best candidates won’t hang around for a long employment vetting process and may accept a position elsewhere before you get a chance to make an offer. Every day a position goes unfilled, the company misses out on full production and runs the risk of burnout of current employees who have taken on additional tasks to keep things running smoothly. Investing in technological solutions to help with the recruiting and hiring processes may be money well spent. A Human Capital Management (HCM) System offers many benefits to improve productivity in each stage of the process, starting with recruiting and hiring.

Maintain a pipeline: It is important to maintain regular contact with a network of potential candidates. When you find good candidates, whether you are filling a job or not, contact them to discuss what they are seeking long term. Create a relationship with them, stay in contact and keep them on a short list as turnovers arise so you have a pool of possible candidates to contact before even placing an ad.

Communicate your timeline: Often candidates are interested in your company or an open position, but a lack of communication on your part can cause them to abruptly halt any contact when something else comes along. Commit to a timeline and inform them of the progress along the way.

Sell the role: More often than not, the best job candidates aren’t the ones who will choose your company because of entertainment, employee lounges and foosball tables. They are more interested in a job that’s exciting, fulfilling and challenging, and one that helps them achieve their personal and professional goals. When speaking with a candidate, focus on the possibility of how this role will help the company meets its goals and how they will fit into the culture of the organization. Help create a mental image of the candidate in the role to pique their interest and prevent them from losing interest.

BCN Services has a full service HR Department to help you with your recruiting and hiring needs. Please contact us at 800-891-9911 for help and advice.

David Pilon, Controller

How to inspire and retain Millennials, and employees of every generation

We’ve all heard, or thought, some of these assumptions about the Millennial generation:

“Millennials are entitled.”
“Millennials expect the world and are barely willing to work.”
“All millennials do is stare at their phones on social media.”
“Millennials aren’t committed to their jobs and won’t stay long.”

In an effort to help our clients and, more broadly, our readership, I embarked on a mission to learn more about what Millennials are looking for at work. Much to my surprise, research I found does not support the commonly held perceptions about the Millennial generation (born between 1981-1999, or sometimes more narrowly defined as those born between 1983 and 1994).

Millennials have good intentions at work

There’s a strong body of research about employees’ preferences among generations and how they relate to employment. Topics range from the types of benefits preferred, to work environment, flexible schedules, and having an opportunity to make a difference in the company and the world. In nearly all categories among thousands of people surveyed, there was little-to-no difference in responses between the generations. What surprised me the most, is the data related to employees and their intentions to stay at their job for a long time. Even in that category there wasn’t a significant difference between generations.

Most of the articles on the subject conclude that the concerns of more seasoned managers regarding younger workers are essentially the same concerns that have existed about younger workers for decades. In other words, someone likely made those same statements about your generation when you were that age.

There is, however, a theory that the Millennial generation is more vocal about how they feel than other generations.

So where does that leave us?

This is actually great news! What it means is that solid employment practices to inspire employees and encourage retention don’t need to be tailored to specific generations. People are people, and companies and managers can generally expect employees to respond positively to and be more likely to stay at their jobs as a result of the following management practices:

  1. Treat everyone with respect. EVERYONE. No matter what they look like, what age they are, or how they’ve treated you. Set the example in how you treat employees at all levels, how you treat customers, and how you treat people outside of work. In some cases, that may mean having to communicate a difficult truth to someone. But that conversation can happen in a respectful manner and can bring about change in an employee who really wants to be a part of your team.
  2. Make sure every employee understands the company’s goals. Then help everyone see how their work helps to accomplish the mission and vision of the company. Any connection an employer can make between the mission of the company and the betterment of society is an excellent way to help get employees get on board, as well.
  3. Listen. Employees who are at your company working hard every day will likely have productive ideas and new perspectives. Most employees, regardless of generation, want to collaborate and be part of a creative solution to work problems.
  4. Invest in the employee development. That includes formal and informal training. Teach them how to do something new and give them opportunities to apply those new skills in projects that will impact the company’s relationship with its customers or clients, or otherwise impact the bottom line.
  5. Make advancement opportunities clear and available. As you develop employees, help them see how they can advance within the company so they don’t want to take those valuable skills elsewhere. It’s difficult to keep employees who don’t see any advancement potential.
  6. Offer workplace balance and flexibility when possible. This is also something all generations look for in their employment. If flexibility doesn’t work for your company, help them to understand why so they know you will make options available when you can.

Leading by example and making retention initiatives a part of your regular operation as a company has benefits for every generation of employees.

Employees of all generations can be influenced to stay at your company in an inspiring and supportive setting. In a job environment where unemployment is lower than it’s been in years, retaining employees from every generation has never been more important.

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Trisha Crigger, Human Resources Generalist

Employee burnout can cause high turnover and increased business costs

A recent poll of more than 600 HR professionals from companies and industries of varying sizes found that employee burnout affects 95 percent of all organizations. This same study found that the three main factors affecting employee burnout are: unfair compensation, unreasonable workloads and too much required overtime or after-hours work.
Further analysis showed that poor management, employees not clearly seeing the connection between their role and the business’s strategy, as well as negative workforce culture, are key factors that continue to fuel this issue. These are also factors that HR can control.

Burnout is a situation in which an employee feels extreme exhaustion that can be physical, emotional or mental in nature. Some signs of burnout include: An inability to concentrate or remember important things resulting in mistakes, increased absenteeism and accidents, disengagement or lack of interest, lower productivity, irritability and lack of patience with coworkers and clients and excessive cynicism.

All of these symptoms can translate into a negative impact for your business. Additionally, businesses affected by employee burnout suffer a higher turnover rate, lower employee engagement and increased spending on healthcare costs to cover psychological and physical problems related to employee burnout.
Some strategies for combating employee burnout include:

  • Allow and encourage your employees to take their full lunch break as well as short breaks throughout the day.  Additionally, add activities during business hours that give employees a reason to leave their desks.
  • Encourage employees to use their allotted vacation time.
  • Give your team a treat when there has been a stressful week or a big goal has been met. This could be food, gift cards, a jeans or casual dress day, or allowing employees to leave early.
  • Define an employee’s role by ensuring that they have an up-to-date job description and understand the expectations of their performance in that role.
  • Keep work hours reasonable and be realistic when assigning tasks and deadlines.
  • Maintain an open door policy. Members of your team should feel comfortable sharing if they feel burned out or being offered the opportunity to share ideas that contribute to success of their role and the organization.

Contact the experts at BCN Services if you need help developing incentives, policies and ways to help keep your employees motivated and productive.

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Alicia Freeman, Operations Manager

Would you marry me? Would you hire me? Tips for finding staff with leadership and other key skills

Would you consider marrying someone you have never met before, but looks good on paper? I’m guessing most people would not accept a marriage proposal from someone they have not previous met, even if that person looked great on paper. A job offer is similar in that it can be a potentially life-changing event that needs careful deliberation.

Job interviews provide an opportunity for the employer to assess how well an applicant’s skills align with the company’s needs. Job interviews allow applicants a time to get better acquainted with a prospective company and co-workers.

Traditionally, interviews usually consist of an employer asking applicants about their skills and experience to see if they would be a good fit for the job. Interviews can range from in-person or over the phone, to one-on-one or in group settings. According to a recent Global Recruiting Trends 2018 report, traditional interviewing methods rank especially bad for assessing soft skills and weaknesses.

Learn to assess soft skills and find good team members

These soft skills, such as leadership, relationship building, communications, adaptability, strategic thinking and work ethic, take up to 25 percent of the skills required to do the job and to be a great teammate. Unfortunately, these skills are arguably the most difficult to assess. You can test for soft skills using such tools as a 20-minute survey, which can provide a more objective measure of a person’s traits.

Using interview questions to determine soft skills is another method, but can be difficult, as most candidates prepare for interviews and put on their best front. This makes it difficult to assess soft skills. Also, interviewers sometimes contribute to the assessment problem by how they ask questions. For example, asking, “Are you a team player?” sets the applicant up for answering with a simple “Yes”, which doesn’t offer additional information about their skill set. Below are a few examples of interview questions that can be used to better help assess important soft skills:

Leadership

  • Tell me about a time when your team was in a difficult position and you took the lead.
  • What would you do if your team members disagreed with your instructions?

Teamwork

  • Tell me about a time you dealt with a team member who constantly opposed your ideas.

Communication

  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult co-worker.

Adaptability

  • How would you prioritize multiple tasks with the same deadline?

Strategic Thinking

  • Tell me about a time you had to make a decision with incomplete information.
  • If you spotted a mistake in a report but your manager wasn’t available, what would you do?

Work Ethic

  • Tell me about a time you faced an ethical dilemma at work. What steps would you take if you discovered your supervisor was breaking the company’s code of conduct?

The experts at BCN Services are available to help you and your supervisory team develop good interviewing techniques. Contact us for assistance.

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Thom Moore, Partnership Manager

How to keep your employees engaged and making a difference

So how do the Self-Actualization Needs from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid from that first-year college course fit into corporate America today?

The top portion of the pyramid relates to spontaneity and problem solving, among other things, which can tie directly to the workplace. Employees want to know they are making a difference in the world around them, including with their customers, peers and communities.

Without having the confidence that they are making a difference, employees become disengaged. This behavior becomes contagious and impacts the bottom line of an organization. Signs of this could be high turnover, low morale, uninspired teams, absenteeism, burnout, poor time management, lack of accountability, and flat profitability. Who wants all of that in their company?

Here are a few strategies for increasing employee engagement that leadership can embrace to create that desirable and engaged organization:

  • Communicate the company goals & direction: Educate employees about how individual roles impact and advance the company. Keep teams in the know about the company’s direction, goals, successes and challenges with regular communications. Use meetings, emails, videos, blogs and other methods so teams are “in the know.” Create incentive goals or gamification programs with prizes and recognition for achievement of established goals.
  • Performance Feedback: Managers and leaders must commit to more frequent and informal feedback. Constant coaching and training (both formal and informal) should be a regular part of the business culture. Break away from the annual performance evaluation as the only time you give feedback to your employees.
  • Celebrate the team and WINS: Have fun at work. You spend a lot of time there so why not enjoy and celebrate the wins of your team and people? Recognize hard work, creativity and new ideas by sharing and celebrating the success. Create an environment where individuals enjoy what they are doing.

Commit to making employee engagement a priority. Creating a survey or a method for honest feedback is a great start, but sincere ownership and accountability from leadership teams is a must. Have fun and be creative with ideas.

Most importantly, take action to gain back the benefits of an engaged workforce with low turnover, increasing profitability and having a staff that is firing on all cylinders.

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” – Simon Sinek

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Corey Decker, Sales Manager

Take care when classifying your workers to avoid costly audits

Job duties, not job titles, determine pay classification and workers’ compensation codes. Not making the correct choice can cause problems, or even prompt a workers’ comp or federal wage audit

When hiring a new employee, it is important to review the individual’s primary job responsibilities before determining whether they will be paid on an hourly or salaried basis.  It is also critical to determine a correct job code when reporting the new employee to your workers’ compensation carrier.

Although employers may have business reasons for making decisions, without professional guidance, employers can get caught on the wrong side of a Department of Labor wage and hour audit or a workers’ compensation audit.

Here are some key areas to consider:

Salary/exempt employees:  Many employers pay all office or supervisory employees on a salaried basis.  For most employers, that means no docking for missed time and no overtime pay.  This is a common violation with the U.S. Department of Labor and without timekeeping documentation, employers often lose during an audit.  Additionally, employees should not be paid on a salaried/exempt basis unless they make at least $455 per week and the employee’s primary duties include “the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.”  Other factors may also apply to this decision about exempting an employee

Workers’ compensation class codes:  Insurance carriers often conduct workers’ compensation audits to determine whether employees are in the correct class code. Misclassification discovered during an audit can result in unexpected, additional insurance premiums. This can add up to thousands of dollars you were not expecting to pay.

1099 contract employees:  This is another area where employers should be sure they understand regulated guidelines.  Contract employees set their own hours, determine the amount they will be paid, determine how the work will be done, pay their own taxes and carry workers’ compensation insurance on themselves.  If you are issuing 1099s to individuals, yet directing their work, you may want to review this situation with one of our HR professionals.

Remember to take the proper steps to classify your employees correctly when they begin employment or change positions.  Let BCN help you before you get audited. Our HR staff is available to discuss any concerns you have in these areas, either regarding existing staff, or in determining direction before you make your next hiring decision.

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Sue Kester, HR Manager

It’s all about the employee and a focus on tech and digital trends

In 2017, organizations focused on the well-being and satisfaction of their employees. Business leaders looked to build a better environment for their workforce and invested in strategies to help recruit and retain top talent. Buzzwords like ‘culture’ and ‘engagement’ were in the forefront of business discussions.

The year 2018 will bring a fresh set of trends that may significantly impact the way businesses operate. Leaders will look for ways to provide employees with the tools they need to thrive and develop.  Key trends will focus on technology and digital integration, collaboration and the employee experience.

There will be a focus on collaboration, including the use of social networks. Another popular prediction includes innovative work arrangements allowing work to become more adaptive and less formal. Interested? Read on for more.

Digital Integration and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Alexa. Siri… Hey Google…

Technology continues to transform the way employees go about their daily activities. Digital tools have become more user-friendly than ever before. With these advances, investment in digital tools and strategies is expected to reach an all-time high in 2018.  Artificial Intelligence (AI) is seeping into every industry and profession. While AI can take many forms, in 2018 we will most likely see a sharp increase in recruitment using the AI-enabled ‘chatbots’ to match candidates with jobs.

Cisco forecasts that by the end of 2018, 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic will be video. Live and recorded video, as well as video ads, increasingly dominate our feeds across Facebook and Snapchat and even on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. It’s estimated that nearly half of businesses are implementing social videos, with another 25-30 percent planning to implement them in 2018.

The Employee Experience

Culture and employee engagement were top priorities in 2017.  The ‘employee experience’ is quickly becoming the new focus for 2018. Susan Peters, Senior Vice President of HR at General Electric, defines this as, “seeing the world through the eyes of our employees, staying connected, and being aware of their major milestones.”

With the growing influence of younger generations and the increasing transparency of the digitalization age, employees are expecting a more engaging and enjoyable work experience.  This will be a year where leaders develop the ‘employee experience’ to include engagement, culture and performance management.

We can expect to see more businesses move away from traditional, structured training programs leaning towards more self-directed, social, informal learning platforms. Social connectivity will also help create an environment of user-generated content and shared ideas, making learning more digestible and engaging. In place of fixed, formal content, this will lead to a more organic workplace learning environment with a viral-like impact.

In 2018, companies will increasingly turn to existing employees to fill open positions, offering training and encouraging employees to seek promotions. With fewer new employees expected to enter the workforce in the coming years, employers are seeing the advantage of investing in people that are already familiar with, and loyal to, their company.  Businesses can no longer rely on a one-size-fits-all approach to talent management if they want to attract and retain top talent. Tailored and personalized learning opportunities for employees of all types will become the norm. Continuous learning will be a hot trend this year. Digital training is an increasingly attractive option because it gives employers the ability to measure employee productivity through user data. It also allows for a more collaborative experience between departments. As a result, work-from-home and other flexible workplace options are expected to become more and more common place.

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Thom Moore, Partnership Manager