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Entries in Human Resources (7)

Monday
Jan192015

How To Keep Employees Motivated

Today, we’ll be discussing employee motivation. Whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or the owner of a five-person firm, you know that a motivated team is essential to your success. More than that, a demotivated staff can do serious damage to your business.

So, what are the warning signs of demotivated employees? According to a blog on the professional networking site, LinkedIn, there are three key areas to watch out for: workplace atmosphere, job standards, and employee productivity. If any or all of these are trending downwards, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with demotivated employees.

As a business owner or manager, you need to not only motivate employees, but also help them to motivate themselves. Ultimately, your goal is to create an environment that allows your employees to meet or exceed expectations, do their best, and feel valued.

Understanding what motivates employees comes down to knowing your staff as individuals. Remember, we all have different needs, aspirations, and values…therefore, what motivates one employee may not work for another. That’s why your best strategy is to offer a range of motivators to improve performance, enthusiasm, and retention.

Of course, most employees can be motivated by tangible rewards such as salary and promotion. However, there are many intangible motivators such as mentoring, personal and professional growth opportunities, and the ability to work independently that can also get the job done. Indeed, offering your employees the chance to work without excessive supervision will show your faith and trust in them, as will allowing a flexible work schedule that enables them to attend to their personal needs.

It’s also important to recognize employees for jobs well done. This may be via a financial reward such as a bonus, but it can also take the form of a new job title that reflects higher status within the company, or company-wide public recognition and thanks. No matter what you do publicly, it is also a good idea to offer an employee your personal thanks for a job well done.

Also, be sure to keep your employees challenged and engaged. Perhaps it’s time for a lateral move if a promotion isn’t possible; this is a great way to help an employee build his or her skill set. Also consider offering more opportunities for employees to engage with your clients and customers, which can be highly rewarding.

One final thought: as we noted earlier, motivating employees comes down to knowing them as individuals. To do this, you must have open lines of communication and a mutual understanding of both professional and personal goals.

Source: Brittany Capozziello (http://blog.hr360.com/hr-blog/how-to-keep-employees-motivated-video-blog) December 18, 2014 

Friday
May162014

Respect Goes Both Ways: Why Your Employees Have to Like You

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a skills gap happening out there. And, chances are, you have already felt, or soon will feel, its effects. According to education site noGRE.com, the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) defines a skills gap as “a significant gap between an organization’s current capabilities and the skills it needs to achieve its goals.” For employers across the country, that means the majority of available workers just don’t have the skills required for future growth.

Even more troubling than not being able to find skilled workers, though, is the reality that employers are having difficulty keeping the skilled employees they already have. The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch highlighted several prime examples that were revealed by a recent New York Fed survey. Approximately 30% of manufacturers and services firms surveyed report “it’s become harder to retain skilled workers in recent months.” And, roughly 37% of manufacturing firms and over 45% of service providers “expect it to become even more difficult to retain skilled workers over the next year.” Holding on to top talent is now even more of a crisis than finding the talent to begin with.

There’s Too Much at Stake
According to Forbes, last year the Department of Labor reported the average tenure of a U.S. employee was only one and a half years. Because of this rate of turnover, and the overall difficulty in finding skilled workers, employers need to be prepared for the negative impact unfilled positions could have on their businesses. One study found that, of the companies surveyed, a third experienced a decrease in employee morale, almost 25% saw a loss in revenue, and nearly two out of 10 saw additional turnover as a result of open positions. With everything else businesses are dealing with right now, employers really can’t afford those types of setbacks. So, the bottom line is in order to remain successful, you have to retain your employees, and that means you’d better make sure your employees like you.

It’s Personal
Being liked by your employees might sound petty, but it takes on a whole new light of importance when their feelings toward you become the deciding factor in whether they stay or go. According to The Business Times, a recent Gallup poll of more than a million employed Americans confirmed the number one reason employees leave is poor management. Of workers who told CareerBuilder they had no intention of leaving their current employers, more than half cited liking the people they work with, and more than 30% indicated having a good boss as factoring into their decision. Now, there are certainly several key reasons that can cause employees to leave, but leadership is one you can control.

Check Your Likeability
Ironically, being a business leader can at times blind you to the fact that everything really does boil down to relationships – and not just between you and your customers. Your employees are who you ultimately need to like you. And, really, being likable isn’t that difficult. A recent Inc. article about the top habits of likeable bosses highlighted their characteristics of being friendly, available, flexible, positive, dependable, grateful, and compassionate.

It’s really pretty basic. Treat employees how you want to be treated. Or, better yet, treat your workers how you want them to treat your customers. If your employees like you, then you’re going to have less turnover. A lower turnover rate means fewer empty positions and maintaining the number of skilled workers you already employ. And with less effort and time being required to replace employees, you can refocus those resources on developing the workers you have to grow your business.

Sunday
May042014

The Lost Generation: Disillusionment in the Workforce

People are defined by their experiences, and similarly, generations are defined by their socioeconomic environments. For instance, Traditionalists are branded by their bravery and resoluteness during WWII and are sometimes referred to as The Greatest Generation. Baby Boomers came on the scene during an economic surplus and grew into the generation that coined the term workaholic. Every generation is affected by positive and negative events surrounding their coming of age, and one of the most historically significant events in human history was the First World War. It was the beginning of globalization and the end of empires. The events of this war defined a generation, and subsequently, produced some of the 20th century’s most influential writers, from Ernest Hemmingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Referred to as The Lost Generation, this group of expatriate writers displayed a new view on life: disillusionment.

Disillusionment

Defined, disillusionment is simply the displeasure in discovering something isn’t as it was expected, from life situations to personal relationships to career paths. Everything building up to the Great War suggested one thing, but the turmoil delivered something different entirely. No one believed an apocalyptic event like World War I was possible, so once the dust settled, the war’s aftermath followed. What once was important to some people in The Lost Generation now seemed trivial. The beliefs and values which sustained society before the war were no longer applicable to their current state. This viewpoint led to the Jazz Age, which was characterized as a time of youthful rebellion against traditionalism. The outlandish lifestyles of the Roaring Twenties were epitomized in Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby.

Millennials: The New Lost Generation

As the World War I generation was defined by utter chaos and turmoil due to global war and unrest, the Millennial generation, or Gen Y, is defined by a different type of chaos, turmoil, and unrest – economic instability. This generation came of age during the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. And just as no one in the early 20th century believed a world war could take place, similarly, a global recession of the magnitude seen in 2008 wasn’t viewed as a possibility in the 21st century either. However, instead of affecting personal beliefs and moral standards, the disillusionment that has settled in the aftermath of economic instability affects traits such as business ethics, company loyalty, and employee engagement. And, as was the case for the original Lost Generation, the former idea that if you work hard and are virtuous, good things will happen doesn’t always apply in the workplace anymore in the minds of many Millennials. Certain expectations associated with graduating college and starting careers haven’t lined up with the reality of the new economic climate – hence disillusionment in the workforce.

Refusal to Accept Social Norms

In their writings, Fitzgerald and Hemmingway both alluded to the effects of hedonism and the refusal to accept the American Dream. Likewise, Millennials are elevating the importance of self-sustainability and refusal to accept corporate and career normalcies. In fact, to circumvent employment struggles, many Millennials are opting to take a different career path. According to the Kauffman Foundation, 54% of Gen Yers have either started a business or have the desire to start one. Moreover, U.S. Chamber of Commerce data reveals that 27% of this generation is already self-employed. This “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality isn’t a new concept, but has resurfaced as the quintessential driving force in every new movement within generations. The refusal to accept social norms is what gives the New Lost Generation the potential to bring about true innovation and market competiveness in business.

The Future of the Formality

Numerous studies have been done regarding Millennials in the workforce and their impact on the way companies do business and connect with consumers. And one main factor that is centered on several of the studies is the impact of economic instability. In a study by American Progress, research found that 42% of Gen Yers believe that current economic issues “show what happens when you rely too much on the market and reduce regulations on corporations.” Trust in the system is lacking, so they are creating their own system. Classic conventions and formalities, which were in place before the economic shift, are no longer applicable for businesses and consumers. What Millennials expected to experience outside of college hasn’t met up with reality. And here is where you find disillusionment in the workforce. The New Lost Generation is creating a new path. How the workplace responds in the coming years remains to be seen.

Have you experienced disillusionment in your workforce? How have you maintained a strong team despite instability? Let us know in the comments section below!

Tuesday
Apr082014

Fight or Flight: Dealing with Stress in the Workplace

Human behavior is marked by ever-changing attitudes and, as a whole, is subject to conditions that surround each individual circumstance. Regardless of a positive or negative perspective, psychological feelings can be just as debilitating as physical factors on the body. One of the most common feelings affecting a majority of humans every day is stress – more importantly, workplace stress. According to a survey by Northwestern National Life, 40% of workers say their job is either very or extremely stressful. Even more, a survey conducted by the Families and Work Institute found 26% of workers are often burned out or stressed by their work. And with many companies doing more with less in this new economy, employee stress could be on the rise.

Fight or Flight

With most things in life, there are positive and negative attributes associated with an issue – and stress is no different. Biologically, stress is the body’s reaction to specific challenges or pressure presented by a threat or task at hand. In a difficult situation, the human body releases adrenaline to provide the person under stress with the sudden boost of energy and acute awareness needed to either combat the problem or run from it. This phenomenon is called the fight-or-flight response. When a threat to one’s life is imminent, this “stress” can be the difference between life and death. However, when high stress levels aren’t subdued through satisfying the problem, long-term results can soon take effect.

Characteristics or Conditions

Even though most people don’t face these types of threats during a normal workday, stress can have the same affect in a workplace setting. And according to the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Heath (NIOSH), there are two different categories of what influences stress in the workplace: worker characteristics and working conditions. For instance, some worker characteristics, like personality and coping behavior, can warrant a situation to be more stressful than others. However, some working conditions, like long hours and overly high expectations, can be considered a stress factor for many.

Work Conditions that May Lead to Stress

There are several causes of workplace stress. NIOSH outlined the following factors: design of tasks (heavy workload, infrequent breaks, long hours, etc.), management style (lack of participation, poor communication, lack of family-friendly policies, etc.), interpersonal relationships (poor social environment, lack of support from co-workers and supervisors, etc.), work roles (conflicting or uncertain expectations, too much responsibility, too many roles, etc.), career concerns (job insecurity, lack of growth opportunity, lack of preparation for quick job changes, etc.), and environmental conditions (dangerous work environment, unpleasant physical conditions, etc.). Though some of these factors can be minimized by a worker’s coping ability and personality, all of these work conditions are out of employees’ control – which may breed stress.

Effects of Stress

Although short-term, or acute, stress poses minimal risk, long-term, or chronic, stress can lead to major health problems. When the body is kept in a constant state of emotional agitation, the threat of heart, stomach, and long-term emotional problems exponentially increase. According to the American Psychological Associations and the American Institute of Stress, 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. Of those experiencing physical symptoms of stress, 51% cited stress-caused fatigue, 44% cited headaches, and 34% experience upset stomachs. Other effects cited were muscle tension, change in appetite, teeth grinding, and feeling dizzy. When the first signs of these symptoms go unchecked, cardiovascular problems can increase. In the workplace, these symptoms can translate into agitation, low patience levels, and lack of focus.

Prevention and Care

NIOSH suggests two steps to deal with stress in the workplace – organizational change and stress management. Unfortunately, stress is a personal issue that can only be fully understood by the individual. What may be highly stressful to one person may be a walk in the park to another. However, as a business leader, it is important to assess your employees’ work environment to better understand what working conditions your workforce deals with on a daily basis. Understanding certain stresses associated with your company, like heavy workloads or long hours, can be a starting point to build a plan to change your organization to better encourage a more positive environment and a better work/life balance. The second step is to put stress management programs in place to help deal with pre-existing stress-related issues, as well as prevention from future stress-related illnesses.

The Future

Stress is a very real issue many of the workers at your company may be dealing with, whether work or home related. Regardless of what causes stress among your team members, this issue can be one of the biggest threats to your organization’s productivity and innovation. Understanding stress, its effects, and the areas at your company that are most susceptible to its threat are the first steps in molding an environment that better handles this important issue. Stress is present. And since your employees are your biggest asset, acting now can be the difference between falling behind your competitors and maintaining a competitive edge in your market.

How have you handled work-related stress? Are there certain steps you take to help your workforce handle stress? Let us know in the comments section below!

Wednesday
Feb122014

Deep Dive: Who’s In and Out of the Labor Force

The labor participation rate (LFPR) is at a 35-year low, but what groups left the workforce the fastest? Americans without higher education, whites, and men outpace others in giving up on the job market.

Ahead of Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Express Employment Professionals, the nation’s largest privately held staffing firm, released a closer look at the nation’s plummeting LFRP, breaking it down by education level, race, age, and gender.

For years now, the LFPR – the percentage of working age Americans who have jobs or are looking for work – has been falling, but not all groups have fared equally. Some have left the workforce in greater numbers than others, for example, Americans with only some college, whites, men, and Americans aged 25-54.

The Diminishing Workforce

From the first quarter of 2010 to the fourth quarter of 2013, LFPR has decreased 2.1 percentage points, from 64.9 percent to 62.8 percent.

Looking at education levels, Americans with college degrees have been slower to leave the job market, with the LFPR for that group declining 1.7 points. In comparison, the LFPR for Americans with only a high school diploma fell much more, 3.7 points, while the LFPR for Americans with some college fell 3.4 points.

The LFPR for whites fell more than for African Americans and Hispanics. White LFPR fell from 65.3 percent to 63.1 percent; African American LFPR fell from 62.3 to 60.5; Hispanic LFPR fell from 67.9 to 65.8.  The data reveals Hispanics continue to have the highest LFPR among these groups.

LFPR for ages 25-54 fell 1.6 points. For ages 55-64, it fell 1.0 point, and for ages 20-24 it only fell 0.6 points.

Though men have a higher LFPR overall, women have fared slightly better. Women’s LFPR fell from 58.8 percent to 56.9 percent, while men’s LFPR fell from 71.3 percent to 69.2 percent.

Why Are People Leaving?

In all cases, the number of people looking for work is lower today than it was after the end of the Great Recession. As the economy has recovered, the size of the workforce relative to population has shrunk across all major demographic groups.

“The falling labor force participation should worry us all; no group seems to be immune,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express, and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. “The percentage of Americans not in the workforce hasn’t been this low since President Carter was in the White House and President Obama was a teenager.

“With workers young and old getting discouraged and leaving the job market, we should be concerned about our economic future. The unemployment rate has been falling, but part of the reason is people are leaving the workforce. We can’t lose sight of that troubling fact, or we may be lulled into a false sense of economic security.”

Below are the LFPR rates for each group for both Q4 2013 and Q1 2010:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How is the low LFPR affecting your business? Have you noticed an exodus from the workforce? Let us know in the comments section below!