5 attributes for employee assistance program

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a program that an organization implements to ease some of the personal problems faced by its employees. An employee assistance program is largely voluntary, in that it is not mandatory either for organizations to implement it, or for very employee to avail it.

employee assistance program - TrainHR

According to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, here’s what to look for:

  1. 24/7 phone response. Seek out providers that have trained counselors on duty answering a toll-free phone line at all times. Avoid EAPs that require users to navigate an elaborate phone tree before reaching a counselor.
  2. Confidential services. Licensed, professional counselors should deliver assessments and face-to-face counseling sessions in safe, private and confidential offices. Make sure there are enough counselors in your area to deliver timely services in both urgent and nonurgent cases.
  3. Referral support and follow-up. The EAP should assist employees by providing referrals for long-term or specialized care based on assessed needs, recommended treatment and employees’ financial resources. The EAP should provide follow-up and ongoing support for employees.
  4. Crisis intervention. Will EAP counselors come to your facility if there’s an emergency, such as an incident of workplace violence? Good EAPs can provide counseling for traumatized employees. They can also help management coordinate emergency-response plans.
  5. Substance abuse expertise. Given their disproportionately great impact on the workplace, drug and alcohol abuse problems often represent the bulk of EAP cases.

Preventing employees from leaving your organization

Employee poaching is a major challenge for employers who have great employees. Such employees are always a soft target for competitors who want to do better (which competitor doesn’t want to?). If the organization has talented employees, it is extremely important to keep him or her, because such an employee’s departure can hurt more than the arrival of a replacement.

Look at yourself first

The most important step an organization needs to take to keep good employees is to look at the mirror. The process of keeping good employees starts with a deep sense of introspection. If an organization is faced with a situation where it keeps losing employees like ninepins, it is time to look inwards. It has to very objectively assess why employees are leaving. If there is a systemic problem in the organization in that it has a problem of keeping talented employees, it had better correct the flaw, because it will continue to lose great employees every few months.

Be open to employee suggestions

For this to happen; the organization should be like an open door rather than like a closed window. It should not only be critical of itself; it should be very open to criticism (of the right kind, of course) from others. It should ideally consult its own employees and ask them to come out with suggestions that they think will help the organization keep its employees. This way, it not only understands employee feelings towards it; it also enhances its standing with its own employees by being consultative and transparent. A very important element it has to keep in mind is implementing the suggestions it gets from its employees. Not all suggestions can be implemented, but surely, the ones that make the most sense have to be. The organization should not forget to reward the employee who gives the best suggestion about keeping employees. It should acknowledge that the employee who gave the best suggestion is a valuable resource. The organization should make it known that it is this employee who has made the best contribution in helping it improve its bottom line by keeping its best resources.

Find that bad apple

The reason many good employees could be leaving can sometimes be because of one rotten apple. A particular manager’s team members may be leaving more frequently than others. Although most managements ensure that there is a certain level of homogeneity in going about achieving its goals; each manager is different. Each person brings in his own traits and management styles. There are the consultative managers; the authoritative ones; the team person and so on. Finally, there is the odd manager who is despised by the team members. The top management has to keep a watch on this manager and see if he is the one that needs to be shown the door, because throwing such an obstacle out could mean keeping good employees for longer durations.

Management should be very decisive when it comes to packing such a manager off. It should not be bound by emotions or feel embarrassed in taking decision of this magnitude. It should think of it as a means of helping the organization grow better by getting rid of one stumbling block.

Identify the employees

Sometimes, a few talented employees are habitual hoppers. Even if the organization does take great care of them; they are always jumpy and like to keep looking for opportunities. If the management notices that there is a steep decline in the quality of work in an otherwise high-performing employee; it has to put the scanners on. It has to start zooming in on that talented employee during such phases and understand if it is just a passing stage or a genuine desire to leave the organization that is making him perform below his best. If the likeliness of leaving is the reason; it has to sit and talk the issue clearly with such an employee. The management should try its best to see what it is that is making the talented employee think of this taking this step and address his grievances and areas of concern. If this is not done; it stands a risk of losing a good employee.

Make sure the stayers are rewarded

Most organizations do a great job at analyzing and resolving the problem, but are poor at follow ups. A very important follow up an organization that is keen to retain its workforce has to make is to ensure that the ones who stay back are happy and contented. It needs to demonstrate that the employees who remain will be valued. It can make simple but profound gestures like offering an unexpected pay raise or a reward in the form of an outing. It should start working more freely with the existing employees and create conditions by which they will find it difficult to leave.

Reference:

http://tribehr.com/blog/prevent-employee-poaching-by-becoming-a-top-employer/

 

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Understand the Gen X employee to manage her

Managing Gen X could be the next big challenge for organizations. It is estimated that by around 2019; Gen X will be in charge of the workplace. What does managing Gen X entail? What is the generation like? Will managements be stretched to their limits in managing Gen X? Will they earn the same loyalty and respect they got from this generation that they got from the previous one/s?

What is Gen X?

After the baby boom generation, which relates roughly to those born in the post war period; the stage is set for the advent of the generation after that, or what is called Gen X, meaning those born from about the late 1970’s to the early 1990’s. Employment analysts surmise that these people will start to attain their highest productivity in around 2019, when they take up their professions or will be some years into it.

Why is managing Gen X considered challenging?

Managing Gen X is challenging for a simple reason: this is the first generation born after the Net took over our lives, so to speak. This generation is the first to be in this position, and sets the trend for being the generation that relies almost entirely on IT for almost anything it does.

In is out, out is in

Since gadgets are here to stay; we can expect that managing Gen X will be akin to managing these gadgets: here today, gone tomorrow. What implications does this trend have for the future of organizations? Employers will now have to come round to the fact that employees are no longer here to stay in the long run. This is the first principle governing the rules of managing Gen X.

Give up micromanaging

It is highly unlikely that Gen X will tolerate any bossing around or micromanaging from its employers. This is a generation that has grown up more independently than perhaps any previous one; so, for people of this generation, the most irritating trait is likely to be micromanaging from employers. They like to be left to themselves, because there are those many more opportunities for them to experiment with anything, be it gadgetry, work, or life itself. The best method in managing Gen X is to give them as much creativity and scope for improvement and experimentation as possible.

Forget loyalty

Another very important element of managing Gen X will be their tendency for job-hopping. It is next to impossible to expect this sprightly generation to stick around for years in the same organization or even in the same profession. For it, it is growth and job satisfaction that comes above everything else, including loyalty. Given that they form the typical global employee gang and the fact of being of very high ethnic diffusion; it is next to impossible to expect them to stay around.

References:

http://blog.dalecarnegie.com/leadership/talent-management-4-ways-to-motivate-gen-x-employees/

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1898024_1898023_1898086,00.html

 

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Fringe benefits are an important factor in employee productivity

In organizations of varying sizes and kinds, there has been a trend of increased importance of fringe benefits. This is nothing recent or event-driven, but is important nevertheless, because organizations need to make all efforts to keep good employees, who are easily their biggest asset. A fringe benefit may be understood as some kind of extra benefit offered to the employees, which is usually in addition to the pay. This is not always linked to performance, which is what makes it different from other perks.

Why would employees welcome fringe benefits from the organization?

What makes fringe benefits important is the fact that they are generally not taxable. More importantly, they target certain needs of the employees to whom they are paid, and help them address some important expenses. For instance, let us say an organization has an annual holiday for the family for meeting set targets.

Any employee would be motivated to push herself into achieving these targets for the reward of enjoying that much needed quality time with the family, away from the bustle of work and the pressures going with it. This is an example of why organizations are attaching increased importance of fringe benefits.

Why do companies need to understand the increased importance of fringe benefits?

Fringe benefits are generally, but not necessarily affordable for bigger companies. When organizations have greater number of employees, the economies of scale weigh in their favor. They can afford special benefits to employees on a larger scale, which makes it affordable and is usually very rewarding, too.

If the organization can take of say, the children’s education or health insurance, it is taking the load off the employee’s shoulder for a major expense. This is the kind of benefit that will make the employee happy and satisfied, a direct result of which is increased productivity at work. It is well known that happy employees are the more productive ones. This realization on the part of employers has resulted in increased importance of fringe benefits.

The other side…

Conversely, when smaller organizations are unable to pay fringe benefits in some or another form to their employees, they end up hiring mediocre or inexperienced workers. This has a spiral effect, because they find it difficult to hire and keep good talent, and to keep them, they have to spend on expenses that they cannot afford because of their size. Having a good fringe benefits program will result in improved fortunes for the company. This explains why there is increased importance of fringe benefits.

References:

http://www.uww.edu/Documents/colleges/cobe/economics/wpapers/08_03_Artz.pdf

http://www.bizfilings.com/toolkit/sbg/office-hr/managing-the-workplace/fringe-benefits-can-increase-employee-satisfaction.aspx

https://www.boundless.com/management/human-resource-management–2/current-topics-in-human-resource-management/increased-importance-of-fringe-benefits/

 

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Succession planning: What is it, and how can HR help?

Succession planning is an extremely important aspect of an organization’s culture. Wise managements are aware of two important things: 1. No one is immortal; 2. a well-planned, well-execute succession plan takes the organization forward. An elaboration of the first point first: We all know that the only certainty of life is death. We also know that we have as much control over it as we had over our birth. We had no idea or say of where, when and to whom we would be born. The same goes for death. It can come about unannounced; it can come after years of waiting, or it can come about leaving the immediate ones some preparation, as was the case with Steve Jobs.

Why is succession planning important?

This is why succession planning is very important. Succession is all about phasing out an organization’s leadership to a new crop of leaders and managers. This is considered very important because when the business grows, it has to continuously adapt to changing situations. When old managers are at the helm; it may not be possible to implement their ideas in new environments. This is all the truer considering that times are changing very, very fast with the advent of technologies in every sphere of business.

Helps stay in the reality of the present

Whether it is a one-man, family or multinational business that one is running; the prospect that people at the top have to say goodbye either to the world or to the business is real. Many people who have built a business from ground up or managers who have done this for their organizations have to retire some day or another. In some cases, a few people may stay till a ripe old age, but generally, when the time for retirement comes, they have to pack their bags and leave.

A smooth succession plan will ensure that the business has continuity and that a new leadership that is more in sync with the present is heading it. The new leadership, which can be expected to be generally more vigorous in its outlook, is better placed to take the organization forward in the changed times. This progression is good for the organization and its business, because it ensures that it does not get stuck in old school thinking and action.

Tougher in some kinds of organizations than in others

In many proprietary, single-owner and family businesses; succession is normally a given. Even when the top brass decides on the succession; there are occasions when it is disputed. It is all the more so when huge organizations with many stakeholders need to decide on a succession plan. There could be more than one decision maker. So, this makes the job challenging. Yet, it is all the more important to have a smooth succession plan in place because of the size of the business.

It is generally important now

Having a good succession plan for organizations has become all the more urgent and important at this point of time than perhaps never before. This is because the baby boom generation has entered its retirement age. With this, we can expect heaps of managers and leaders to step out of organizations into the sunset of their careers. This is at a rather delicate time for the economy, because while it has just begun to feel robust all over again, there is a bunch that is leading it out of the mess is on its last legs.

How can HR help?

Throughout the succession process, HR can be a key player. It can be a very important consultative partner, right from the time the organization’s top management decides on a succession plan to the point when it is put in place.

HR is what may be called the organization’s connector. It is one of the very few departments that are in complete knowhow of the entire happenings in the organization. Being in a prime position gives it the opportunity to have complete knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. It is thus very well placed to be a good searcher of the person or persons to whom the baton needs to handed over.

It is a major player in helping to identify the talent that should take the company forward. It can coordinate with the managers of all the important departments and talk to them about who each manager thinks is well suited for taking over the organization’s reins. This is one of the most important contributions HR can make to succession planning. It is also something that only it can do, because it is uniquely placed to assess the strengths and capabilities of each individual in each department.

This is something that no manager, except someone sitting at the very top, can do. A manager is usually aware of the strengths of only his team member. He can at best give suggestions on who from only his team fits the bill, whereas HR is perched in the vantage point. It can have a proper and clear overall view of each department’s leadership material and suggest the most appropriate candidate to the top management.

References:

http://hrcouncil.ca/hr-toolkit/planning-succession.cfm

http://skinnyohio.org/humanresources/successionplanning.html

http://www.tutor2u.net/business/people/hrm_succession_planning.htm

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Retaining your best employees

Make no mistake: how to retain your best employees is one of the toughest challenges for any organization. If finding the best people is one big challenge; keeping them is a bigger one. But when the organization does not know how to retain its best employees, it is certainly a reflection of its weakness.

Key factors

HR or management has to understand key factors that make employees remain with the organization for which they work. Pay is a factor, but certainly not the most important one. With most good employees, the most important reason for working for a company is the recognition, appreciation and freedom associated with their position. HR and management have to find out the reasons for which the best employees work in the organization: what they value in the organization, what they don’t like, what they expect and so on. How to retain the best employees is often a function of these factors.

Understand their needs

First and foremost, HR and management need to understand and create the right environment for helping employees to grow in the organization. The best employees are usually fired by challenge. They want to experiment with new things and try out lots of ideas. If they find that the organization is not providing them, it is certain that the organization will have lost an important factor in how to retain the best employees.

What is freedom?

HR has to understand that freedom means different things to different people. For some, it is about being given the opportunity to fly high. For others, it could be being allowed to work from home. For some others, freedom could consist of being asked to work in flexible working hours.

Of course, giving unbridled freedom has its flip side; too, since fueling an overambitious employee’s challenging nature can sometimes be expensive. It has to be pragmatic and judicious in selecting person for the right challenging assignments if it has to understand how to retain its best employees.

Create the right environment

Many a time, good people leave organizations for the bad work environment. Some people don’t like the politics at office; others may not like being bossed, and yet others may be averse to domineering from above. HR plays a vital role in how to retain the best employees if it goes to the root of the matter. It has to create the right, positive environment at work, something that will take effort and time.

References:

http://www.adeccousa.com/articles/Want-to-retain-your-best-employees.html?id=21&url=/knowledgecenter/employer-articles/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx&templateurl=/Employers/resource-center/Pages/read-article.aspx

http://www.tlnt.com/2013/03/18/4-things-you-can-do-right-now-to-help-keep-your-best-employees/

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4305-why-retaining-your-best-workers-is-a-challenge.html

http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/06/15/2958498/want-to-retain-your-best-employees.html

http://www.roberthalf.com.au/EMEA/Australia/Channel%20Descriptors/rh-au%28en%29/PDFs/How_to_keep_your_best_people_lowres.pdf

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Hiring strategies that demonstrate common sense

Any organization that needs well-suited and professional employees need to put effective hiring strategies in place. It is, after all, hiring strategies that give the organization the people it needs. When well-crafted, effective hiring strategies are in place; the hiring process becomes smooth. The most important benefit of putting sound hiring strategies in place is that they help the organization get the right fit, which is the perfect means to taking it along the growth path.

Many organizations have their own hiring strategies. Some are suited for some kinds of industries, while the same practices may not be appropriate in others. Generally, these are some of the hiring strategies an organization can think of:

Provide the most appropriate job description

The starting point for locating the best candidates is to fill the ad with the best and most realistic description of the role. This is the basis for good hiring strategies, because the candidate’s first point of reference to the new job is the job description. This is the handshake between the candidate and the company. Even small deviations from the actual requirement should be avoided. Making the job description as crisp and near to reality as possible is among the primary hiring strategies an organization can employ.

Avoid jumping to conclusions about candidates:

The HR in many organizations makes the mistake of jumping the gun when it comes to assessing the candidate’s abilities. A glib candidate is likely to be favored by most in the selection process. But HR and senior management have to understand that a good first impression is not everything. It may carry many misconceptions about the candidate, because many have the ability of masking their abilities and achievements with their excellent articulation skills.

Ask for proof of skills and experience

Experienced HR and management professionals have the ability of not getting swayed by such candidates’ sweet talk. What they do is to ask for demonstration of their qualities. They ask for specific situations where the candidate has actually performed as claimed. One of the easiest ways of seeing through such candidates is to ask for specific instances of a sales deal. They can then check with that company if that has been true.

Set their best employees as benchmarks

Another of the effective hiring strategies for organizations is to look upon their best performing employees as the point of reference while hiring new employees. Mature and experienced HR and management ask themselves how the candidate who is being interviewed measures up to the organization’s best employees. They assess the abilities in relation to the skills and abilities of the cream of the organization, and take into consideration factors like how their interview went, what were the sticking points and so on. Wise hiring strategies include methods of assessing whether this candidate has the potential to be among the organization’s best, how soon the present employee who is being interviewed will match up to the organization’s best, and what is needed to take her to that level.

 References:

http://www.rgba.com/article_hiringstrategy_.htm

http://www.hiringstrategies.com/products/profile_xt.htm

http://www.marketingpower.com/Careers/Pages/Hiringtipsandstrategies.aspx

 

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