Friday, December 4, 2009

Nearly One-Third of Workers Plan to Holiday Shop Online While at the Office, CareerBuilder’s Annual Survey Reveals

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Cyber Monday, a term coined by the National Retail Federation for the first Monday after Thanksgiving, is likely to be a busy day for Internet use in the office. Thirty-two percent of workers plan to holiday shop online this season, up from 29 percent last year, according to CareerBuilder’s annual survey. While employers tend to be more lenient around the holidays, experts caution workers to be aware of their company’s electronic communications policies as employers have reported monitoring Internet and email use and instituting stricter policies in regard to social media. The survey included more than 3,100 employers and 4,700 workers nationwide.

"The Internet provides fast and convenient access to virtually any resources you need, but you want to make sure you’re leveraging those resources during personal time that is allotted to you during the workday, such as your lunch hour," said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. "Nearly half of employers reported they monitor Internet and email use of employees. While employers will take into consideration the overall performance of the employee, smaller staffs and higher productivity demands may have them taking more notice of time spent on non-work related activities. This extends to all types of communications and activities."

Social Media Restrictions - What Workers Should Know Before They Post

Social media has become pervasive for personal and business use. Sixty-one percent of full-time workers reported they have a social networking profile. Among them:

* Half of workers (51 percent) spend time on their social networking page during the workday; 11 percent spend one hour or more.

* 25 percent include information about their employer in their communications on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace; 15 percent include company information on Twitter; 13 percent of workers with personal blogs say they blog about their companies.

* 13 percent of workers are "friends" with their boss on their social networking profile.

* 22 percent of workers have separate social networking profiles for personal and business use.

With social media becoming a key avenue for employers to promote their brands, products and services and job opportunities, companies are taking a closer look at how messages about the company are communicated.

* 37 percent of employers have a policy on whether workers can communicate about the company on social media sites; 17 percent have implemented a stricter policy on employees communicating about the company on social media sites in the last year.

* 21 percent prohibit employees from communicating about the company. Thirteen percent have designated certain employees to post on behalf of the company.

* 16 percent monitor social networking profiles of employees and 14 percent monitor blogs.

Internet Usage Nearly three-in-five workers (58 percent) admitted they use the Internet for non-work related activities while at the office. Twenty-one percent will typically spend one hour or more on personal Internet use while at work.

Workers are advised to limit their Internet searches to those related to work or to designate their lunch hour or break time for these activities.

* 20 percent of employers have fired someone for using the Internet for non-work related activities.

* 5 percent of employers have fired someone for holiday shopping online at work.

* Half of employers (50 percent) block employees from accessing certain Web sites while at work.

Personal Emails
Workers are also cautioned about email content as two-thirds have reported they typically send non-work related emails each day.

* 32 percent of employers monitor emails and 16 percent monitor instant messaging.

* 8 percent have fired someone for non-work related emails.

Here's the link to the original release. Thank you Career Builder.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Business and Home Life: it’s a balancing act

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November Benefits Installment by Jim Moniz:

With the economic landscape still in a stall, many business owners find it necessary to put work first now more than ever, pushing family and their own financial needs to the back burner. The need to meet weekly payroll and be up to date with vendor payments often translates into long term financial needs not being met – business owners run the risk of focusing on the present and compromising into-the-future plans, especially when it come to their own households.

For example, recently I spoke with the owner of a service company who said he gave his wife $5,000 a month to pay bills, run the household, etc. He couldn’t understand why every other month she had to ask him for more money. I told him outright that it wasn’t fair for him to have $2 million a year flowing through the business and his wife didn’t have enough cash to go to Starbucks at the end of the month.

At the same time his wife didn't quite understand the need for investment in their business. At times she did not understand the dynamics that her husband had to deal with in running the business. She did not understand the time commitment, when he needed to deal with employees and the money that needed to be spent on marketing. She still looked at his income as coming from salary, his work nothing but a job.

He might be a savvy businessman but this gentleman couldn’t think past the month he was in – never mind the concept of buying another home sometime down the road or setting up college funds for his small children. Too much of “in the now” equates to an out of balance life. This same guy also had an almost non-existent business growth plan, relying again on in-the-moment “organic growth.” It’s too bad because this otherwise knowledgeable businessman is missing out on opportunities, both in his business and personal life.

I’m not saying that a business owner – veteran, fledgling or somewhere in between – should look at their business as “just a job.” We all recognize that it takes time, attention and diligence to create a successful business, but the same strengths that aided you in building a lucrative company should carry over into your personal finances and life. We need to work on our personal systems as we do our business systems. Our families must be as important to us as our business models.

In fact, the most successful entrepreneurial balancing acts can occur when you consider your business a part of the family. But in order for this mid set to work, everyone in your family must be on board with it. Business owners – and by extension their families – must realize that their workplace is not “just a job.” Its successes and failures have both short and long term effects on your entire family.

About our Benefits Installment Author:

James E. (Jim) Moniz, CEO of Northeast VisionLink, a Massachusetts firm that specializes in structuring executive compensation. James E. Moniz is a national speaker on the topic of wealth management and on executive compensation.

Jim Moniz will be presenting at this years SHRM conference in Phoenx, be sure to check out our presentation: “Creating and Sustaining a Competitive Advantage, The Role and Impact of Effective Compensation and Rewards Strategies”

Thursday, October 8, 2009

+25% of Employers Think Employees Fake Illness to Explain an Absence

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More Than A Quarter of Employers Think More Employees are Calling in Sick with Fake Excuses Due to Stress Tied to the Recession, Finds CareerBuilder’s Annual Survey

Chicago - While the cold and flu season serves as a primary culprit in workplace absences, the economy may be a factor as well this year. CareerBuilder’s annual survey on absenteeism shows nearly one-third (32 percent) of workers have played hooky from the office this year, calling in sick when they were well at least once. Twenty-eight percent of employers think more employees are absent with fake excuses due to increased stress and burnout caused by the recession. The nationwide survey included more than 4,700 workers and 3,100 employers.

While the majority of employers said they typically don’t question the reason for an absence, 29 percent reported they have checked up on an employee who called in sick and 15 percent said they have fired a worker for missing work without a legitimate excuse. Of the 29 percent of employers who checked up on an employee, 70 percent said they required the employee to show them a doctor’s note. Fifty-two percent called the employee at home, 18 percent had another worker call the employee and 17 percent drove by the employee’s house or apartment.

"Longer hours and heavier workloads are common in the current economic climate and employers are becoming more flexible with their time off policies," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "Sixty-three percent of companies we surveyed said they let their team members use sick days for mental health days. If you need time to recharge, your best bet is to be honest with your manager."

More than one-in-ten workers (12 percent) who played hooky admitted to calling in sick because of something work-related, such as to miss a meeting, give themselves some more time to work on a project or avoid the wrath of a boss, colleague or client. Others missed work because they needed to go to a doctor’s appointment (31 percent), needed to relax (28 percent), catch up on sleep (16 percent), run personal errands (13 percent), catch up on housework (10 percent) or spend time with family and friends (10 percent). An additional 32 percent just didn’t feel like going to work that day

When asked to share the most unusual excuses employees gave for missing work, employers offered the following real-life examples:

• I got sunburned at a nude beach and can’t wear clothes.
• I woke up in Canada.
• I got caught selling an alligator.
• My buddies locked me in the trunk of an abandoned car after a weekend of drinking.
• My mom said I was not allowed to go to work today.
• A bee flew in my mouth.
• I’m just not into it today.
• I accidentally hit a nun with my motorcycle.
• A random person threw poison ivy in my face and now I have a rash.
• I’m convinced my spouse is having an affair and I’m staying home to catch them.
• I was injured chasing a seagull.
• I have a headache from eating hot peppers.

Amazing.

Here is the link to the original release. Thank you CareerBuilder for always amusing us!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Promotion That Got Away

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Here's a really great "guide" from the New York Times for how to handle getting passed over for a promotion and what to do to make sure it doesn't happen again.


Enjoy.

I’m paying out $1 million in bonuses for my top five people – what’s in it for me?

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October Benefits Installment by Jim Moniz:

When Jack Welsh left GE, he received – and by the way continues to enjoy – a retirement benefit valued at about $ million a year, plus perks. Lots of press attention and much controversy followed, but the reality is Welch’s package amounted to less than 3/100s of 1% of the shareholder value that was created while he was at GE. In fact, his total compensation during Welch’s entire time at the company was less than 2/10ths of 1% of the value created.

OK so what’s my point? The Welch example illustrates a fundamental premise in examining the value of compensation. If you juxtapose Welch’s compensation arrangement with GE’s results during his tenure there, it hardly seems exorbitant…that’s because his “rewards” are being evaluated in the context of the bottom line. While the numbers may not be as dramatic in your business, the same premise and principles still apply. Compensation should drive and be tied to results that are quantifiable and measurable.

Here’s the big question – what are you getting right now for what you’re paying out? You’re getting the current result, whatever that may be. But if the results you achieve this year are not measurably different than what you had last year, what are you going to do next year to drive a different performance level? And how will pay differ in regards to these changes? Growth implies different results and by extension the strategies you’ve used to get current results can’t be the same in the future if a different result is desired or expected. Because compensation is one of the strategic tools in a business’ arsenal to affect change, companies looking to develop different performance results can’t expect to achieve forward motion if their rewards programs don’t match up to their goals.

Let’s break it down a little. If your company sets its target on growing net income by 20% per year over the next three years, you need to ask yourself a few important questions. What part of our compensation and rewards plan communicates that goal to employees? If we achieve or exceed that number how much are we willing to share? Who will get their fair share and then some if we meet our financial targets? To what extent will key employees’ participation fuel this desired growth? In other words, what comes first – growth or employees that are motivated by incentives to create growth?

For growth to occur sustained performance must be achieved…and since these results are largely a function of your key employees, compensation becomes a focus. As a business owner you have to determine the right mix of compensation components. These elements should include a strategic mix of core benefits, executive benefits, qualified retirement plans, supplemental retirement plans, salary, short-term incentives, long-term incentives and long-term equity incentives.

Ultimately the proverbial “rubber meets the road” when a rewards plan prompts employees to rise to a higher level of performance. For rewards to be effective they have to create increased focus on the part of participating employees – this focus is a direct result not only of financial reward, but also of a positive work environment and the path that you, as company owner, have drawn for their personal and professional development. Remember, money may be motivating, but so is an atmosphere where a culture of confidence exists.

At the end of the day, compensation can only do its part in changing results within an organization if the model and the compensation plan are understood and valued, results are achievable, and if employees are committed and feel a sense of ownership.

Results must also be concrete and measurable and communicated regularly. If these elements fall into place you will know that you’re paying your key people appropriately and you will also know what you’re getting in return.

About our Benefits Installment Author:

James E. (Jim) Moniz, CEO of Northeast VisionLink, a Massachusetts firm that specializes in structuring executive compensation. James E. Moniz is a national speaker on the topic of wealth management and on executive compensation.

Jim Moniz will be presenting at this years SHRM conference in Phoenx, be sure to check out our presentation: “Creating and Sustaining a Competitive Advantage, The Role and Impact of Effective Compensation and Rewards Strategies”

Friday, September 18, 2009

Maybe the problem is not you … just your environment

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Today we present an article by a new HR-Worldview Guest Author.

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This year at My Next Path, we have worked with a certain number of clients who started a coaching process because they felt uneasy with their current job. Some of them even got the unpleasant sensation they might have some sort of issue. When we started working together, they in fact quite quickly came to realize that they did not have any problem themselves: the source of their trouble was their environment! Therefore, instead of feeling bad, stuck, paralyzed or sometimes worst, what they had to do was actively take action and work their way out to another environment that would better fit them. Let us explain more below.

Mary*has been working for 8 years in the same company. She was a middle manager in the sales and marketing area. She had always been travelling a lot for her job and liked it. She liked her industry and was very knowledgeable about key factors of success, players, etc. But more recently, she had 3 different bosses in 2 years, an increasing pressure and despite good results in her region, little recognition. Her self confidence was eroded and she found herself drowned in micro-management tasks imposed by an insecure manager. When we started working together, Mary was really unsure about her own abilities.

After a few sessions of analyzing what she thought were her issues, she came to realize, she had lost her self confidence because of the environment (poor management, wrong cultural fit etc), not because she had problems herself! In fact, she was perceptive enough to take action, seek help, and finally take that healthy distance to realize that. A few months later, Mary landed a new job in a company more in line with her style and expectations. Although everyone around her told her to stick to her current job because of the tough economy, she overcame her initial fear, dedicated the appropriate time to look for the right opportunity and found one.

We have seen more than one case similar to Mary’s this year: Before feeling bad about yourself and jumping to conclusions, make sure you are able to analyze your situation with perspective. Actively take action to find a work environment that better fits you maybe the best decision you will ever make! This obviously could mean changing company but not necessarily. This could also mean changing job/department within a corporation: very often in big companies, people have been offered jobs that do not properly fit their profile; by changing to another job, area or department within the company, they suddenly feel better and everybody wins.

About our Guest Authors:
Myriam Le Cannellier and Catherine Bortolotti are Career Coaches who work with professionals who are experiencing a transition in their career, because of relocation, an unexpected situation in their current job or the will to make a significant change in their professional life. Learn more about them at www.mynextpath.com

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Competitive Advantage: becoming the “big dog”

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Special September Benefits Installment by Jim Moniz

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It’s a childhood memory that most of us share…the loud bark of the snarling neighborhood dog that would come out from no where and scare the “you know what” out of you every other time you walked or rode your bike down “his” street. Chances are you eventually became weary of the scenario and decided to avoid the the big dog at whatever cost, first by avoiding the street then consequently the dog’s neighborhood altogether.

That “big dog” concept continues its chase in the business world. If you have the competitive edge, you have the advantage over others who fearing your loud and well-defined “bark” will retreat, leaving you to reap the business benefits of being “top dog.”

So, how do you become the “big dog” and get that competitive advantage? Competitive advantage is achieved when a business produces surplus profits - greater than it's competitors - due to unique product pricing or resource advantages. As a result, its profitability is greater than the average profitability of all other businesses competing for the same set of customers
The advantage, however, goes to those organizations that can achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. This implies that a business's strategies enable it to maintain above-average profitability for a number of years. This is typically achieved through the creation and execution of processes, positions and/or propositions (as in value proposition) that are difficult if not impossible to duplicate.

Businesses pass the competitive advantage threshold by attracting and retaining great people and then nurturing a unique culture - one that demonstrates passion, executes with consistency, perpetuates success, breeds confidence and rewards performance.

Companies that achieve this start with and build upon a foundation of mission, values and vision that are reinforced by, in and through every aspect of their business plan. As a result, they commonly enjoy a shared value system with their employees - because both are clear about, and compelled by, the direction the company is headed, how it's going to get there, what is expected of everyone and how each will be rewarded for the company's success.

In their book, Strategic Management, Charles W. L. Hill & Gareth R. Jones offer the following insights about organizational culture. Their insights are key to linking the ability of a company to enjoy a competitive advantage in the market place with building compensation strategies that will correspondingly fuel the performance needed to achieve that outcome.

Organizational culture is " ...the specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization..."

"Organizational values are beliefs and ideas about what kinds of goals members of an organization should pursue and ideas about the appropriate kinds or standards of behavior organizational members should use to achieve these goals..."

"From organizational values develop organizational norms, guidelines or expectations that prescribe appropriate kinds of behavior by employees in particular situations ..."

The key word in this quote is "behavior." For a business to achieve the results associated with a competitive advantage it needs the right people consistently doing the right things in the right way and for the right reasons. As a result, any rewards system that is built must, at its core, encourage a focus on the right performance factors and reward their execution. This is how results are achieved and sustained.

Larry Brody and Ram Charan, in their book Execution, put it this way:

"A business' culture defines what gets appreciated, respected, and, ultimately, rewarded; those rewards and their linkage to performance are the foundation of changing behavior. If a company rewards and promotes people for execution, its culture will change. However your organization determines rewards, the goal should be the same - your compensation and reward system must have the right yields. You must reward not simply on strong achievements on numbers, but also on the desirable behaviors that people adopt. Over time, your people will get stronger, as will your financial results."

With the aforementioned principles in mind, consider the impact on your company's ability to achieve a competitive advantage in the marketplace if your culture demanded the following in its efforts to attract and retain great people:
  • Only talented, committed and focused people "need apply"
  • No entitlements (people are only rewarded for achieving well defined performance standards)
  • All employees must think and behave like owners
Such a culture needs a rewards system that reinforces those standards and that attracts the right "fish" to the "pond". That said, the rewards framework needs to be built in harmony with the strategic, operational and performance management systems of the company for a competitive advantage to ultimately be achieved.

The pathway that a company needs to take to achieve a competitive advantage starts with a foundation of mission and values, out of which grows the company vision. At this stage, a company must clearly define why it exists, what it stands for and what it values. Correspondingly, it must build a compatible total rewards foundation and philosophy consistent with the ends it seeks to serve. The company vision is fulfilled only through a well designed strategic plan. That plan is matched on the rewards "side" with a Compensation and Rewards Game Plan that envisions pay for performance programs that will support and reinforce the company's strategy.

Execution of the company's strategy is key to its success. Capital and cash flow need to be managed, marketing initiatives need to be crafted and launched, operations need to be well executed, superior products or services need to be developed, and excellent customer service needs to be rendered. All of these functions depend upon the applied intelligence of a dedicated workforce. As a result, these elements need to be reinforced by compensation strategies that are effectively engineered and tied to roles and expectations that are well defined and communicated.

Through this combined confluence and application of business ideals, organizational architecture and rewards processes and systems, a company ultimately experiences success and builds a culture of confidence.

Rewards reinforcement strategies work hand in hand with performance management systems to elevate that success and create true "line of sight" in the organization. Such a company has unleashed the lifeblood of a competitive advantage.

Ultimately, companies that enjoy a competitive advantage in the marketplace don't just initiate a Compensation and Rewards system. They sustain them. Their ability to do so is dependent in part on the way in which they identify the issues and problems they face and then address them according. We classify these issues in the following categories. In asking the questions associated with each category, a business can better assess its area of greatest priority in dealing with its compensation development.

Future
  • Are employees compelled by the future of the organization?
  • Is there a belief in the business strategy of the company?
  • Are there opportunities for personal and professional growth and development?
Foundation
  • Is there an alignment between the compensation philosophy of our company and its mission, values and vision?
  • Do we have a rewards value proposition that has attraction capacity - that will help us recruit and retain great people?
  • Is there an ownership mentality throughout our organization?
  • Framework
  • Are we achieving an efficient return on our compensation investment?
  • Is our compensation program properly balanced between long and short-term rewards and guaranteed versus incentive compensation?
  • Have we established clear performance standards for the achievement of rewards in the organization?
  • Focus
  • Have we created "line of sight" in our organization between the vision and strategy of the company and the roles, expectations and rewards we have and provide for our employees?
  • Do we have a rewards reinforcement strategy in place that keeps employees focused on the expectations we have of them and how they will be rewarded for performance?
  • Are we consistently achieving the desired results we want from our employees?
A competitive advantage in the marketplace begins and ends with getting and keeping the right people "on the bus" as stated in Jim Collin's seminal book, Good to Great. Once in place, a culture of confidence needs to be nurtured and achieved through consistent execution of key results emanating from the vision and strategic plan of the business. Such a pattern of execution is achieved, in part, by developing an aligned rewards philosophy and Game Plan, then envisioning, creating and sustaining great compensation strategies.
Best of luck in becoming the”big dog”!

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About our Benefits Installment Author:

James E. (Jim) Moniz, CEO of Northeast VisionLink, a Massachusetts firm that specializes in structuring executive compensation. James E. Moniz is a national speaker on the topic of wealth management and on executive compensation.

Jim Moniz will be presenting at this years SHRM conference in Phoenx, be sure to check out our presentation: “Creating and Sustaining a Competitive Advantage, The Role and Impact of Effective Compensation and Rewards Strategies”


Friday, August 7, 2009

Don't Mistreat Job Seekers

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Alison Green of U.S. News and World Report recently compiled a list of 5 ways companies mistreat job seekers.

1) "Having no regard for the candidate's time."
2) "Not sharing their timeline."
3) "Refusing to share their salary range, but asking for yours."
4) "Misrepresenting the work."
5) "Not notifying candidates that they are no longer under consideration."

The full article and some expansion on each of these items can be found here.

2, 3, and 4 are downright shameful and there is no plausable excuse for them. Often times, however, we've found that 1 and 5 are accidental and are caused by time and volume pressures.

That's no excuse. It hurts your company's reputation.

Take a look at your process. If you find that you are guilty of 1 and 5 above, ask yourself if these are simply being overlooked. That is, are you unintentionally disregarding the candidate's time or not notifying them when they are chucked from the pool? If the answer is yes and you think it's because you are buried in work, then something is wrong with your recruiting process. Maybe it's time you looked into ways to simplify or streamline your process and give up the notion that you can handle it all yourself.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

48% of Laid Off Full-Time Workers Find New Jobs

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Laid off workers continue to be resilient, even as the economy is slow to improve. According to a new survey by CareerBuilder completed in June, 48 percent of workers who were laid off from full-time jobs in the last three months have found new full-time positions; up from 41 percent in March. An additional three percent found part-time positions; down from 8 percent in the previous survey. The CareerBuilder survey was conducted among 921 workers who were laid off from full-time jobs within the last 12 months.

“Despite a challenging job market, workers have been able to find employment opportunities in a variety of fields,” said Brent Rasmussen, President of CareerBuilder North America. “Even though the number of workers who took part-time positions is tracking below last quarter, the number who found full-time jobs is notably higher. This is a positive indication that more workers who were laid off from full-time jobs were able to replace them with new full-time positions instead of taking part-time work as an interim measure to generate income. Part of this job search success is related to workers expanding career options to new industries and locations.”

Changes in Pay
Looking at workers who were laid off in the last 12 months and found new jobs, more than half (56 percent) reported they were able to negotiate comparable or higher pay for their new positions. Forty-four percent of workers took a pay cut, down from 49 percent in March.

Transferring Skills to Other Industries and Fields
Workers reported they are applying their skills to new areas. Similar to the last survey, 38 percent of workers who were laid off in the last 12 months and landed new jobs said they found work in a different field than where they were previously employed. Of those workers, the majority said they really enjoy their new positions.

Relocation
Workers are no longer just looking for positions in their own backyards. One-in-five workers (20 percent) who were laid off in the last 12 months and found jobs relocated to a new city or state; up from 13 percent in March. Of those who are still looking for employment, 44 percent reported they would consider relocating for a job opportunity; up from 39 percent in March.

Starting a Business
An increased number of job seekers have adopted an “if you can’t find a job, create one” way of thinking. Nearly three-in-ten workers (29 percent) who have not found jobs are considering starting their own business; up from 25 percent in March.

Altering Appearance
The competition for a smaller number of jobs is driving some workers to alter their everyday appearances in hopes of making a stronger impression. More than a quarter (28 percent) of workers who were laid off in the last 12 months said they have changed their appearance to make themselves more attractive to potential employers. Fourteen percent said they have lost weight, 8 percent have changed their hair color or hairstyle and 5 percent are dressing to appear younger. Teeth whitening, enhanced makeup and cosmetic procedures were also cited.

Comparing Genders
Both men and women indicated making changes to their appearances in hopes of appealing to potential employers, at 26 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

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About CareerBuilder

CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract their most important asset – their people.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ePraise

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I just heard about a silly new form of "around the office praise". It's called ePraise. ePraise is a kind of eCard that is designed for the sole purpose of praising the performance of a coworker. For those of you who don't know, an eCard is just like a real card except that it is sent to your e-mail box instead of your real mail box...

Anyway,
ePraise is a free service from Baudville.com and, while it's silly, I think it has it's place.

These
ePraise cards don't take themselves seriously, so hopefully the sender doesn't either. Rather, it seems to me that the ePraise serves as a kind of lighthearted supplement to broader "around the office recognition" programs or initiatives that hopefully all companies attempt to implement (even if only in a limited way).

They're good because they show that someone has taken a moment to personalize and send them. They show that someone recognizes the work someone else has done and they're kind of funny so they lighten the mood.

Lots of
ePraise for Baudville.com

Friday, July 31, 2009

Beyond the Cookie Cutter Approach: Customizing your Company’s Incentive Program

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August Benefits Installment by Jim Moniz

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Vision, potential, communication and motivation – are the key elements to an effective company’s incentive program. But in the absence of well-defined indicators and a “best practices” framework, even the most comprehensive program can fall short.

The foundation of an incentive program is basic; it must project the potential that can be realized by the company if its purpose if fulfilled. It must also identify employees who are in a position to impact those outcomes. Moreover, it should standardize its benefits/rewards and determine how much of an increased shareholder value will be allocated to employees and how its value will be measured.

Indicators, sometimes referred to as measures and metrics in a company’s reward strategies, are pivotal to a well-oiled incentive program.

The role of indicators is straightforward – they should seek to improve performance, influence behavior and create focus. This is accomplished through communication and reinforcement to encourage a company wide culture of employee ownership mentality.

Indicators should not be confused with motivators. Motivation is an internal element, something that is encouraged by aligning employees with roles and tasks that are consistent with their abilities. This will encourage them to shine. Motivation is additionally stimulated by a mutual vision between the company and employees.

That said, if indicators are not properly nor thoroughly defined, employee motivation can collapse under an incentive program – this can happen when workforce members see a disconnection between their role in the company and how rewards are earned. This is why a “best practices” framework – a Profit Based Allocation – is a vital component to a company’s incentive program.

A “best practices” framework should address a number of issues, including how company growth is defined; the baseline upon which contributions to the profit pool will be based; payment threshold; percentage to be shared; an allocation formula; and a definition of the expected individual’s performance.

There is nothing “cookie cutter” about an effective incentive program– what may work for one company could be way off the mark for another. The most expedient way to achieve the ideal program for your company is to be fully aware of best practice standards and frameworks, and then work within that structure to customize indicators and measures specific to your organization.

Incentive programs that work best are based on a company’s culture, business model and goals. Communication and reinforcement of results on an ongoing basis is critical. A C- incentive program will outperform an A+ program without ongoing communication and reinforcement. Companies should match their incentive program to those crucial components and then stay the course.

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About our Benefits Installment Author:

James E. (Jim) Moniz, CEO of Northeast VisionLink, a Massachusetts firm that specializes in structuring executive compensation. James E. Moniz is a national speaker on the topic of wealth management and on executive compensation.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Trouble With HR

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Today we present an article by guest Coaching Author, Wendy Reeves.

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As a former HR manager, and latterly in my employment as HR director, I know only too well the pressures and the difficult assignments that befall the corporate HR department.

The key function of good HR is to provide a service to the organisation and its staff. The workforce, from the top to the bottom, need to be treated as ‘the customer’, supporting and delivering to that customer as required. I have always believed in HR operating an ‘open door’ policy to anyone within the organisation. An accessible and visible HR department creates trust and confidence, and cohesion. Not always easy at the best of times, and in this current economic climate beleaguered HR personnel are beginning to suffer.

Cut backs and waves of redundancies are currently on businesses’ agendas, as they fight to survive the credit crunch. Head office functions and responsibilities such as marketing, are being removed and re-assigned to be delivered by line management, and effecting the change that these situations bring not only for those leaving, but also for those remaining - often requires HR input. And frequently when all that is done, it’s the turn of HR being the last to go. If your boss asks you for details of the redundancy process, be wary.

At my last employment the company was working towards floating on the stock market, and the share options awarded to me at the time of my directorship would turn in to ordinary shares, which I could cash in. It was at this stage that I made the decision to make some life changes as this windfall would support and help me move forward to a new chapter in my life. Part of the company’s preparation to float was to tidy up the management structure, which fell upon my department. Even though I was preparing my own exit some months ahead, it came as a huge shock that I was included in that tidy up process – they didn’t require an HR director going forward. Thankfully, the timing of my redundancy hit three years ago when the economy was buoyant, and receiving a redundancy package as well as the payout from the shares did ease the blow. I was lucky. But at the time, being forced out of a job you’ve given many years to is never easy to face, no matter what the circumstances.

So, who looks after the wellbeing of HR during these difficult times?

In my coaching business I have come across many HR people who are really struggling to cope under these current pressures. Their sense of self preservation buckles as they try to deal with making their colleagues redundant - colleagues whom they’ve known over a number of years and who perform well with an excellent record of conduct.

Before we can attempt to minimise the stress and pressures we first need to recognise that we are suffering from it. The next step is to realise what the triggers are. Stress comes in two directions; internally – the stress we create…pressure we put on ourselves, and; externally – work, boss, family etc.

Here are some tips on how to deal with stress:

  • Find a support network, either a ‘buddy’ at work, or someone outside whom you can talk to about how you are feeling.
  • Build up a resilience to stress and implement the three “R’s” to help focus on things you can control
  • Rest: For example, move away from your computer and do something different, such as getting a drink every 30-40 minutes.
  • Relaxation: What can you do to chill out? Perhaps listen to music or meditate? Yoga or other holistic therapies can really help.
  • Recreation: Physically being active in some way, walking, swimming or going to the gym. Don’t become a hermit - keep up a social life.
  • Always aim to take a break for lunch. Taking time out during the day is very important if you want to stay fresh and recharged for the next part of the day. The mind has an opportunity to relax and think about something else, which helps improve the concentration. Change your state, go for a walk and get some fresh air to rejuvenate and restore energy, do something for yourself and fulfil a personal task. These small steps reap huge benefits – stress levels reduce, performance improves and you will feel a lot better.
  • Stress can really effect how you sleep exasperating how you feel. Try and follow some basic rules; for example, avoid caffeinated drinks in the evening; go to bed when you are tired; relax before bedtime, many find taking a hot bath really helps relax both the body and the mind; exercise regularly (but not before bedtime) and stick to a healthy diet. By getting plenty of sleep you will be rewarded by performing more efficiently and sustainably.
  • Mind Set: Think positive and focus on what you can do and influence, rather than on what you ‘can’t do’. Negativity is unhelpful and gets you nowhere. Ask yourself empowering questions. In the midst of a crisis, for example, don’t ask why you got into this mess; ask how you can improve it.
  • Be self-aware: Stress and worry lead to loss of motivation and procrastination. If you feel you can’t break the stress cycle, seek help to get you back on track and in control.
  • Consider the ‘what if’s’ and what your options are.
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By HR-Worldview guest author Wendy Reeves, founder of LifeGoal.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Performance Compass (Beta)

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We don't usually do this, but today HR-Worldview would like to direct your attention to a useful new tool designed by HR-Meter that is still in Beta.

HR-Meter is looking for folks to Beta test this tool. This basically means "use the tool for a month and give HR-Meter feedback on it".

The tool is called the Performance Compass. Check out this little video HR-Meter sent over.



HR-Meter has asked that we don't give out any more information than this.

So, if you are interested in participating in the Beta of this tool, click the link below to sign up and HR-Meter will give you more information.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Steps to a Great Incentive Plan

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July Benefits Installment by Jim Moniz

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A performance based incentive plan is one element of compensation that most companies recognize as vital to the remuneration mix, but developing such an effective program requires some thought and effort.

To get things moving, you first have to define the specific goals of an incentive plan – are you seeking increased sales, improved customer retention, certain margins? Before you put a rewards strategy in place understand what you’re trying to achieve.

Once key result areas have been determined, identify which employees are best positioned to make these results happen; not every employee will be able to fulfill these initiatives.

Next comes quantifying the value created if incentive objectives are met – in other words, what will be the financial result for shareholders? This process typically requires construction of a model that projects base, target and superior result thresholds.

Once the economic value has been determined, you have to figure out the amount you will share with those employees who helped create the upswing.

First determine an acceptable “target” pay-for-performance return and then earmark an achievable “superior” return. Once those two measures are identified you can better establish an incentive goal.

The next step is to determine a standard that defines the potential value in current terms. The potential reward, then, might be stated as a percentage of contributors’ current salary – of course, the big question is the percentage amount. Incentive plan targets that combine the short and long term will likely be in the 60% to 80% of salary range for top managers and between 40% and 80% for second tier managers.

Establishing tiers comes next. After all, not everyone had an equal part in creating increased value. A business needs to define tier levels and assign participating employees – by establishing different tiers you can assign greater potential value to those who will have the greatest impact.

Weighting – or determining how much of a reward should be assigned to the achievement of various categories of expectations – is the sidekick to the tier concept. Weighting should be based on how much of an employee’s role impacted categories.

Determining allocation is the next step. You need to decide when awards will be paid out…at the end of the quarter, end of year and/or sometime down the longer road. Typically, a percentage of total incentives are paid annually and a percentage rewarded in the future.

The final step deals with the long-term portion of the incentive plan. This could take any number of forms. For instance, it could be held in a pool; credited with interest or investment earnings; or treated as a stock or phantom stock incentive.
With this type of incentive program in place, shareholders know the precise value accrued before managers earn incentives; they know the percentage of future growth shared with the management team; and they also know managers will be rewarded for achieving specific and measurable results.

* * *

About our Benefits Installment Author:

James E. (Jim) Moniz, CEO of Northeast VisionLink, a Massachusetts firm that specializes in structuring executive compensation. James E. Moniz is a national speaker on the topic of wealth management and on executive compensation.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Employer Turnaround

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According to a new poll conducted by Careerbuilder, “72% of employers are taking steps to strengthen their employment brand to prepare for when the economy turns around.”

Of course, the first major take away is that there seems to be something a return of confidence in the U.S. Market. That's good news.

Another major take away is that if your company is looking to grow coming out of this recession, then you better be one of the above 72% .

So, what exactly are these 72% up to?
  • Outlining potential career paths for current and future employees.
  • Offering more employee recognition programs.
  • Offering more flexible work schedules.
  • Revising job listings to emphasize a positive work culture.
  • Revising recruitment materials.
  • Revamping their company career sites.

These things make you visible, competitive and desirable. Are you doing these things?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Twitter

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Dear Readers,

By request, HR-Worldview is now on Twitter. The little Twitter thingy is over there on the right side of the blog just under our e-newsletters link.

Here are a couple of links to keep you hyper-connected to HR-Worldview:
  • You can follow us on twitter by clicking here.
  • You can subscribe to our e-newsletter by clicking here.
  • You can subscribe to our blog in any reader at the top of the page.
Best,
Eamon

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Are Your Employees Afraid of You?

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At a meeting in a manufacturing town in the old Soviet Union, the speaker was wrapping up his presentation. The factory had once again exceeded its goals for the five year plan, “Thanks to the wisdom and inspiration of our great leader, Comrade Stalin!” The audience leaped to its feet, shaking the hall with their clapping. The applause went on for a minute. Then two minutes. After five minutes, people started looking around to see who would stop first. After ten minutes, hands sore from clapping, old white-haired Ivan sat down. Relieved, the rest of the group settled back down in their seats.

Ivan didn’t show up for work the next day. No one seemed to know what had happened to him, but no one asked, either.

I was never that kind of leader, or so I thought. At a staff cocktail party after work, my fiancee pointed out that my staff members were really very good at sucking up to me without being obvious. “Nonsense!” I told her. “They don’t need to butter me up. They know they can say anything they want to me, good or bad.” She just smiled. I then realized that, while I genuinely liked my subordinates, I had power over them, even when I didn’t use it. I could put off that raise, delay that promotion, reduce that bonus, and not realize I was doing it. And then I saw I treated my boss the same way. I always held back a little, knowing that my career depended on his good opinion.

It’s hard to manage, even when you have good information to work with. But if your staff is afraid to deliver bad news, criticize your proposals, or argue with you over a decision, you’re operating in the dark. You may have already told your staff that you want to hear open and honest communication. But your message to them consists of more than words. All it takes is a frown or a roll of the eyes to let people know that what they just said was not welcome. Even worse, a comment like, “That’s a dumb idea” will shut down all but the most self-confident employee.

I was lucky. I always had at least one staff member who realized I would always be fair (see my other blogs on Trust.) They would alert me to my blunders. Find one of those folks if you can. In addition, there are some things you could do to keep the communication lines open:

  • Have someone watch your body language in meetings. They should let you know what messages you’re sending without realizing it.
  • Practice neutral language to handle ideas or comments from your staff when you really don’t agree with something they’ve said. Try, “Interesting idea, Ted. I’ll give it some thought,” instead of, “No, I don’t think that will work.” Follow up with a one-on-one session with Ted to let him know where his idea fell short - if it did.
  • Put criticisms in a “parking lot” for later review, and let people know you’ll go over them later. Then give yourself time to react rationally rather than emotionally.
  • Learn to listen. That means hearing what people say and mean, both verbally and emotionally. Mirror what they’ve said to let them know you heard and understood it, and to be sure you really got it right.
  • Give credit where it’s due. Acknowledge the person who came up with an idea or a valid criticism.
  • Acknowledge your mistakes and say what you’ll do to prevent them from happening again.
  • Finally, say what you mean and mean what you say. If your actions match the words the use, your employees will learn to trust you.
George Krafcisin is President of Mosaic Management, Inc., where he does coaching and training for businesses and executives who want to become better leaders. He gives his services away to those who don’t have “profit” in their mission statements. Contact him at Mosaic_Management@mac.com, www.MosaicCoaching.biz, or www.LinkedIn.com/in/krafcisin.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Unconventional Tactics

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Facing the most difficult job market in decades, some job seekers have resorted to using unconventional methods to stand out from the crowd. According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, nearly one-in-five hiring managers (18 percent) reported that they are seeing more job seekers try unusual tactics to capture their attention in 2009 compared to last year. This is up from 12 percent of hiring managers who said the same in 2008 as compared to previous years.

A few of the most memorable tactics hiring managers reported seeing include:
  • Candidate sent a resume wrapped as a present and said his skills were a “gift to the company.”
  • Candidate staged a sit-in in the lobby to get a meeting with a director.
  • Candidate washed cars in the parking lot.
For more examples of unusual tactics and additional information, click here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Performance, Compensation and the Recession

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June Benefits Installment by Jim Moniz

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One of the key characteristics of companies that move ahead while others are falling behind is the ability to turn obstacles into opportunities.

High performance organizations that advance, even in the wake of a recession, have the foresight and courage to make seemingly counter-intuitive decisions during difficult economic cycles. Companies that adopt this strategic approach can discover opportunities during times when competitors are in defensive mode.

For example, during recessionary periods, high performance companies recognize and take advantage of the following:

  • Weaker competition will fade away, creating opportunities to acquire higher market share
  • Top talent becomes more available in the marketplace and typically at more affordable salaries
  • Capital expenditures can be re-focused in anticipation of recovery
  • Acquisitions prospects become more accessible
  • A challenging economy often forces a company to look closely at it’s compensation structure and subsequently revamp it, positioning the organization more positively not only during the recessionary period but also following it

Savvy companies recognize that in both good times and bad times, the ultimate key to success is their talent pool. Likewise, they are also well aware that it is precisely at the trough of a recession that the labor pool will be at its deepest and wage pressures at their lightest.

Regardless of the economic climate, the highest performance organizations look to hire those they believe will commit to the company’s vision and strategy – in other words they want top talent with an ownership, not an entitlement mentality.

So, what type of compensation package does top talent respond to?

The most talented individuals want to participate in an opportunity that rewards them for their performance – they want to clearly see a relationship between how they perform and how they are compensated.

Top-tier employees also recognize and respect the balance that inherently exists between guaranteed and incentive compensation and long-term versus short-term pay. They understand the economic outcomes the company needs to achieve for sustainability and growth and furthermore they are aware that current economic conditions will impact the shape and form compensation will take now…a shape and form that may shift when times are better.

While top talent may be willing to take a little less in their paychecks when jobs are scarce, in general terms a compensation structure that will attract high echelon workers will address the primary needs of sustainable cash flow; security; and wealth accumulation.

Understanding these elements, a company must formulate a compensation philosophy that not only addresses current economic cycles, but takes the longer range into consideration. The compensation philosophy of a high performance company typically includes market salaries; upsides/bonuses for exceeding annual expectations; long-term wealth accumulation opportunities; a flexible benefit structure that bends and shifts to both strong and weaker economic years.

Compensation philosophies of this ilk can absorb adjustments as the company faces various challenges, recessionary or otherwise. For example, when business is on an upward trend, salaries are at or are even slightly above market; short-term incentives are equal to percent of salary; and long-term awards are based on market guidelines. Conversely, when business is trending down, salaries are at or slightly below market; short-term incentives are minimal; and long-term awards are higher than market levels.

Businesses that adopt these compensation philosophies have the capability of interjecting practical solutions when the economic flow is downward.

For example, during recessionary periods, a company with a thoughtful compensation philosophy may offer “sabbatical” leaves to certain employees instead of a cut and dried layoff. Such a leave will reduce or suspend salary, but keep employees eligible for long-term benefits and wealth building programs.

Tiered pay cuts, as opposed to the feared “reduction in force” are another approach to cutting costs, while retaining key employees during challenging economic times. Top quality team players will recognize these adjustments in salaries as a necessary means to maintain jobs.

And during poorer performance cycles, a company might eliminate bonuses or raises, instead granting additional stock options.

Ultimately, companies, regardless of the shape of the economy, must have exceptional people on staff – employees who are aware that shifting financial circumstances may redefine their compensation and short term rewards, but who have the desire to maintain their focus within the organization knowing that the pendulum will eventually swing back toward better times.

* * *

About our Benefits Installment Author:

James E. (Jim) Moniz, CEO of Northeast VisionLink, a Massachusetts firm that specializes in structuring executive compensation. James E. Moniz is a national speaker on the topic of wealth management and on executive compensation.