What Are You Doing to Improve Your Mobile Applications?

There’s no mistaking the fact that not only is mobile here to stay, it is now the ruler of the Internet. According to the most recent statistics compiled by comScore, smartphone use has gone up 394 percent and tablet use an astounding 1,721 percent in just four years to overtake the desktop as the primary means of computing and accessing the Internet. Your recruiting strategy should definitely involve mobile at every point. That includes your company’s job application. Are you doing enough to ensure potential applicants can easily upload their resume and cover letter, fill out forms and link to key social networks on their mobile phones?

Dinosaurs in optimized times
Mobile applications can represent the lynchpin of a recruiting strategy centered on smartphones and tablets. LinkedIn’s numbers on mobile speak clearly regarding where candidates look to apply to jobs. For example, 72 percent of active candidates look at a company’s career site on a smartphone or tablet while 45 percent apply for a job that way and 43 percent upload their resumes through a job app. Some 29 percent of them didn’t apply for a job this way because they couldn’t customize their resume or CV in any way.

Applicants now apply to jobs via mobile. Are you prepared?Applicants now apply to jobs via mobile devices. Are you prepared?

While this is a great opportunity for many companies, the problem is that their application systems were probably last updated before June 2007, when the first iPhone made its debut. This is evidenced by a recent survey by Glassdoor, which revealed that nearly 49 percent of applicants found it difficult to apply for a job through a mobile device. HR firm HR Virtuoso noted that ATS software lacks a significant amount of mobile optimization. This includes:

  • Display support or responsive design
  • Form simplification
  • Using social network profiles in lieu of a resume
  • Resume, CV or profile customization

By making it difficult for applicants to apply to jobs over their mobile devices, you greatly risk losing excellent hires to competitors.

Thinking in devices
There are many features of the application that you can overhaul so that it suits the use of smartphones and tablets. The first is the form itself. There are quite a few ways of going about this process, but the simplest solution recommended by Human Resources Executive Online is offering to link to profiles from social networks such as LinkedIn. By having this option available, applicants can automatically fill out many of the form fields such as name, education and experience without having to tap everything in on their touch screens.

Incorporating responsive design can also help greatly. This concept enables a job application to adjust in size and shape based on what display the user currently views it on. By having this feature on applications, you can enable a seamless experience over multiple mobile and non-mobile devices. An applicant can start the application on a smartphone, then save it and later access it on a laptop where he or she can then upload additional documentation. These tactics, mixed in with the right resources, can help you improve your application process so that anyone with a mobile device can apply without problems.

Best Practices for Implementing an HR Management System

The choice made by corporate human resources to become more efficient by using software isn’t one that is made overnight. Most HR professionals have accepted that manual processing and handling large quantities of paperwork are just part of the job. However, as is true in a variety of business sectors, the introduction of technology has completely reshaped the way those working in HR perform their duties.

An HR management system can help organizations streamline many human resources processes that were once manual in nature.An HR management system can help organizations streamline many human resource processes that were once manual in nature.

However, simply selecting a software platform, installing and then putting it to use is an oversimplified take on the process that goes into a successful implementation of a human resource management system. If done incorrectly, an organization can suffer a setback from a productivity standpoint, putting an added strain in the effectiveness of the HR department.

To mitigate this, here are some helpful tips on how to ensure that the installation process is a smooth one:

  1. Create a budget: Depending on the size of the organization and the number of employees that will be managed by the system, installing HR management software can be a lengthy process. HR Payroll Systems wrote that it may be necessary to work with the vendor and outline exactly how long the implementation will take from start to finish and if an additional investment will need to be made to bolster the existing IT infrastructure. Setting aside a predetermined amount of money related to installing the HR management system is a sound business decision and is a critical component of the planning stage.
  2. Make data security a priority: When transitioning from a paper-based HR system to one that integrates the use of software and technology, companies will need to protect information related to active employees and potential candidates at all times. HRLab.com wrote that companies failing to take this step put themselves at an increased risk of liability if sensitive information can be easily accessed by an unauthorized party. HR leaders should query vendors they are considering to gather a deep understanding of how the software will keep proprietary information safe.
  3. Develop an installation roadmap: HR Payroll Systems calls this process the business project overview. This is essentially a detailed plan on how the installation will run from the beginning stages of implementation to the actual go-live date. In addition, everyone involved in the process will know exactly what their roles will be and the action items that they will be responsible for. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal, which is the successful integration of the human resources management system into daily operations.
  4. Consider a phased approach: While some organizations may want to dive right in and install an HR management platform, ERP.asia wrote that many of these systems are much more sophisticated than simply being used for record keeping purposes. With vendors having software solutions that are very much feature-rich, the more add-ons an organization chooses will lengthen the amount of time it takes to get the system up and running. Therefore, it may be wise for organizations taking this approach to complete the implementation in steps instead of trying to integrate everything all at once.
  5. Work with a vendor offering post-installation support: After a human resource management system has been installed, there may still be a steep learning curve before users get comfortable with the system. In this case, it may be wise to work with a vendor – like Payroll Experts – that will be able to answer inquires and solve any issues that may come up with the software. This offering should also be a key part of the overall software selection process.

Getting Employees to Stay: A How-To

The American workforce has increased its fluidity since the recession first hit the country. While this means a growing number of available jobs and an uptick in the economy, it also enables employees to more easily jump from one job to another and leaves human resource departments scrambling to fill recently vacated positions.

With turnover and training costs being high, a company can’t afford its best talent to jump ship.

According to a worldwide 2015 LinkedIn study of more than 10,500 people published in the Society for Human Resource Management, the No. 1 reason respondents gave for leaving a job was lack of career advancement. Those surveyed said the main reason they left their former company for a new one was their potential for growth. Better pay came in second place.

So how can leaders in human resources effectively retain employees? Besides salary increases, there are a few steps you may take to ensure your talent stays even as more positions open up in your industry.

While some workers leave for better pay, many employees want clearer goals.Retaining good employees isn’t all about offering more money.

Be transparent
Inform employees about both their position’s responsibilities as well as your expectations for them. Muddled job titles and unclear intentions for what the the position entails can create anxiety and low morale among workers causing them to look for work elsewhere.

“Employees want career road maps and challenging work,” Esther Lee Cruz, insights and content marketing manager for LinkedIn Talent Solutions. “If you set clear expectations and give them visibility into opportunities that help them advance their career or skills, they are likely to be more engaged and productive.”

Open communication beginning on an employee’s first day on the job can be crucial in retaining them. Instead of holding annual reviews or meetings with workers, hold them at least each quarter in one-on-one meetings to gauge the feeling and pulse of the office. If an employee is unsatisfied, it’s best to know sooner rather than later when they might already have interviews with competitors scheduled.

A face-to-face meeting will give the employee a chance to detail how they feel about their work, the company and what would help them stay or cause them to leave. Meanwhile, human resources can tabulate the feedback and use it as actionable information to improve the office environment and worker relations.

Let them grow
Jason Lemkin, a former vice president at Adobe and a columnist at Inc., advises that to retain employees a boss and human resources need to chart their workers’ growth with the company. Giving employees new roles or tasks to complete, will give them a change of pace and allow them to learn more instead of staying stagnant in the same role.

Inform your office about advancement opportunities from within along with what it will take for them to reach a higher level in the business. Promoting from within instead of hiring outsiders will show your employees that the opportunity is attainable and reassure them that they work for a company that values their career growth.

HR Software can Help Promote Ethics in the Workplace

Studies show that numerical calculations, especially those concerning money, can have negative effects on moral decision making. A new study co-authored by researchers at the University of  Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, City University of Hong Kong and Northwestern University reports that a calculative mindset can cross over when dealing with other problems in the workplace. As a result, social, moral and interpersonal factors may not be taken into account in the decision-making process.

“Performing calculations, whether related to money or not, seemed to encourage people to engage in unethical behaviors to better themselves,” co-author Chen-Bo Zhong stated in a press release.

The people solution
Software like online payroll services, remove the burden of tax calculation and  filing for human resource departments. This streamlines HR’s tasks through the use of paperless employee on-boarding solutions and fully integrated HR databases.

Online payroll systems help manage human resource departments. Online payroll systems help manage human resource departments.

According to the Rotman study, the participants showed less self-interested behavior when they were shown pictures of families after calculations. With the reduction of non-numerical values through HR management systems, departments can return to what human resources is all about: the people.

Fitting the bill
According to ystats.com, a secondary market research company in Hamburg, Germany, businesses are looking for technology providers that they can rely on. These systems should possess complex features including user-friendly systems with cross-check capabilities to ensure accuracy and safety. Finding the right fit is a meticulous process.

In addition, some online databases can save a business money with payroll processes. According to the IRS, the agency issued $4.5 billion in penalties related to employment taxes last fiscal year. Payroll management systems use integrated software to deliver tasks without error or stress. Solutions such as these that maximize the user experience can reap a multitude of benefits, from better use of time to the reduction of non-ethical decisions. The application of these technological tools is the next step on the road to business efficiency and organization.

3 Tips for New Human Resource Professionals

As the business field continues to evolve, so should its professionals. Here are three tips that can be helpful for people entering the HR world:

Keep up with technology
Technology in the workplace is constantly evolving. Most businesses cannot function without a working computer, and HR is no exception. More and more companies are investing in HR technology or online solutions for data entry, data tracking and data information needs of human resource departments. These include functions such as online payroll systems, talent and recruitment. As a result, managers can access all the employee information they need. However, systems are only effective if the people using them are doing so correctly and efficiently. Keeping up with technology can put human resource professionals ahead of the curve.

Improve people skills
Just because we live in a technological age does not mean human resources is moving away from the human aspect. HR is still about the people. One of the major factors of a successful human resource manager is the ability to deal with a variety of situations. Not only will HR professionals have to communicate good news such as benefits or hiring new employees, but they also must be able to communicate bad news such as terminations. The ability to communicate effectively is essential in the HR profession.

Human resource management should have effective communication skills. Human resource management should have effective communication skills.

Learn how to lead
In the fast-paced environment of business, leadership skills are essential in successful HR management. However, sometimes leadership is hard to define. As an HR professional, you should know when to be a friend, when to be a leader and when to be both. Common sense is the innovation. Being a human with experience allows you to think critically when dealing with complex problems in the workplace.

2 Reasons Why HR Automation Helps the Whole of a Business

Automating the many human resource processes used at an organization may initially seem like a change that benefits the HR department significantly more so than other areas of the company. However, efficiency is realized through automation when using a human resource management system to better track employee data. With a deeper understanding of employee performance and skills, different departments benefit from having the right people in the right places. Similarly, compensation and benefit tracking allow the finance department to gain more insight into the process as well.

HR automation helps the vast majority of staff, not only the department in charge of it.Automating HR systems can benefit the entire company.

Here are two major areas where HR automation benefits a business beyond the direct needs of that same department:

  1. Ensuring compliance: It’s often the responsibility of the HR department to make sure that all compliance-related activities, whether it’s accurately tracking health insurance signups or federal- or state-mandated leave programs. The issues that arise from noncompliance can affect an entire business, however, fines and other penalties that limit the effectiveness of an organization and tie up valuable resources as well. As HR Executive Online pointed out, the majority of companies have already recognized the importance of automating compliance. Businesses that don’t, will likely suffer at some point in the future.
  2. Self-service: Although HR staff often end up doing the majority of the work when it comes to processing various requests and mandatory submissions related to employee needs, both HR professionals and workers lose time when it’s a manual process. It’s easy for a staff member to forget to fill out a form, for the HR department to lose it in transit or for both sides to spend more time than is necessary on such efforts. HR Daily Advisor pointed out everyone from frontline employees to managers and supervisors benefit from having a self-service tool in place.

What Effect Does Telecommuting Have on your Office?

While the word telecommuting was coined 42 years ago by a University of Southern California researcher, businesses across the nation are still studying the effects it has on their offices, according to JALA International.

So does working from home or on the road make for happier and more productive employees? So far, the jury is still out as the amount of remote workers trails off and some large companies put an end to the benefit.

A return to the office?
An August 2015 Gallup poll that surveyed 1,011 Americans aged 18 and older found 37 percent of employees are working from home or outside the office an average of two days every month. Forty-six percent of telecommuters work from home during the typical workday. The numbers from this year’s study are up slightly from the 30 percent reported last decade and the results show how much an interconnected world and workplace enabled many people to work anywhere. Only 9 percent of employees telecommuted in 1995, according to Gallup.

However, some say this could be the end of the growth period for telecommuting. Gallup posits the numbers could plateau in the future since working from home is only an option for those office staff that can access their work materials online.

Is the number of telecommuters flatlining.Telecommuting is on the rise but has its disadvantages as well.

While chefs, doctors and nurses are in positions that will never be able to telecommute, HRE Daily, a human resource publication, saw more office employees working from home or outside of the traditional office environment.  This has only been increasing as technology continues to make strides to keep people connected at all times.

Staying home increases productivity
Besides cost-savings for companies – an employer isn’t required to provide physical amenities to employees working from home or a coffee shop – telecommuting’s largest benefit is better worker productivity. James Liang’s travel website Ctrip, based out of China, saw a greater rise in the amount of work his call center staff members could complete when he decided to have them work from home, The Harvard Business Review reported.

The added flexibility that working outside of the office provided that telecommuters were completing 13.5 percent more calls than their peers working in the actual call center, according to the Review. However, Liang and Nicholas Bloom, a researcher for the work-from-home experiment, attribute the rises in productivity to staff working longer hours remotely, starting work earlier and taking fewer sick days. Plus, employees could spend the time they used to use on commuting to the office to actually work.

Working from home also cut out the interference’s found in many offices like food, long breaks or celebrations.

The possible downsides
While telecommuting is a success story at Ctrip, not all businesses are enthusiastic about staff working from home. In fact, some companies outright banned the benefit. So far, the largest to get rid of its work-from-home option are Yahoo and Best Buy, Fortune reported.

“People are more productive when they’re alone,” Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, told the Great Place to Work conference in 2013 after her company ended its telecommuting policy and cited by Fortune. “But they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.”

According to Inc. magazine, working remotely cuts down on collaboration since having staff members in the same room or office encourages teamwork. Telecommuting can be a hindrance to sharing and sculpting ideas necessary for companies that thrive on consistent innovation. Steve Jobs intentionally designed the Pixar animation studio’s building with large open spaces to encourage idea-sharing and collaboration, Inc. Magazine noted.

Besides having a negative effect on teamwork, it can also cause employees to drift away from their employers – possibly creating more work for the human resource department. Staff members can easily miss the introduction of new policies, benefits or objectives that their company creates if they are consistently working from home or elsewhere. Communicating new corporate directions is difficult when done over email or phone and the burden of keeping remote employees in the loop fall to supervisors and human resources.


5 Things to Look for in an HRM System

The number of technology advancements that have reshaped the world economy are too numerous to name. There isn’t one business sector that hasn’t been made better through the introduction of hardware or software designed to produce more streamlined and efficient outcomes, and HR is certainly no different.

There are variety of critical functions to look for when choosing to implement an HRM system.There are a variety of critical functions to look for when choosing to implement an HRM system.

A human resource management system provides a variety of benefits that can help those in HR become better at their jobs. However, with so many different platforms on the market today, deciding on one solution can be difficult. For the HR business leaders considering to add an HRM system into their operation, here are few things to be mindful of:

  1. System of engagement: Many HR management software solutions do a great job of recording specific data, such as worker demographics and time and attendance. These platforms also aid in helping to run payroll. However, the Impraise blog wrote that an HR management platform that makes engagement a primary function is likely a much more practical option. This people-centric solution makes it easy to share files between staff members, streamline inter-office collaborations and helps HR professionals take ownership of certain functions and tasks.
  2. Mobile capability: In today’s business world, tablets and smartphones are two devices that help people become much more organized and productive, especially on the go. As such, an HRM system that features mobile functionality, will provide immense value to an organization. According to Technology Advice, 52 percent of HR software platforms support Windows, Android or iOS devices. Choosing a platform with this kind of functionality allows HR professionals to operate at a higher level of efficiency than before.
  3. Gamification: When introducing new technology into an environment that has essentially operated in lieu of it, the learning curve for individuals can be extremely steep. To mitigate this, Impraise wrote that a number of solutions have integrated gamification into their platforms. This allows people to not only set, but be motivated to reach the goals they set either at an individual or corporate level. In addition, a solution of this kind generates a much higher level of user engagement than platforms that don’t have an integrated gaming mechanism.
  4. Talent management: Whether gauging if a new employee has the necessary skills and abilities to be considered for an opportunity, or assessing the professional growth of an existing employee, talent management is an inescapable part of HR. According to Technology Advice, 78 percent of today’s HRM software has an integrated talent management feature. This is a critical function to look for in any software package.
  5. User interface functionality: Technology that is difficult or frustrating to learn may force people to revert back to their old ways of doing things. That’s why when considering an HRM solution, it’s important to select a solution that has made design a major area of importance. Software that is easy to navigate and learn will be more readily embraced than a platform that is complex, cumbersome and otherwise difficult to use.

How to Solve Employee Engagement Issues in your Office

Any corporate human resources department worth its weight knows recruiting and hiring personnel isn’t its only job. Employee engagement is just as important as keeping a firm profitable and adaptable within a fast-paced working environment that experiences changing responsibilities and duties.

However, the number of employees happy and engaged with their workday is consistently stagnant.

Little engagement, unhappy workers
According to a March 2015 Gallup poll, only 32.9 percent of U.S. workers said they’re pleased with what they do at their workplace. While that percentage crept up from the 31.7 percent measured in January, it’s the highest average the pollster recorded in 15 years.

Out of the nearly 6,000 people polled, half of respondents remarked they weren’t engaged at work while almost 17 percent said they were not enthusiastic about their jobs at all.

Gallup attributes the higher number to the recent improvements in the nation’s economy as more Americans rejoin the workforce and find more companies competing for employees. The better economy means employees will find it easier to locate new employment at a faster rate if they feel unhappy with their current position.

The slight rise in February might be due to what Gallup calls the “honeymoon effect,” where recently hired employees are eager to engage their workplace compared to veteran workers who may feel jaded.

Whatever the cause for the lukewarm attitudes among employees, there are ways leaders and human resource personnel can fix it and make workers happier and more productive.

Embracing a worker's talents is a good way to retain them.Lauding employees for good work engages them more while on the job.

Keeping them happy
Turnover and training is expensive. Onboarding employees until they reach their full productivity may take up to a year. According to Investopedia, an employee making $8 an hour can cost a company as much as $3,500 to prepare them for the job.

The high costs make engagement and retention all that much more important for the human resources department.

One way to keep both onboarding employees and veterans happy is to let them be themselves and by accommodating different work hours to promote a better a work-life balance. Nowadays, younger workers want more flexibility as to when and where they can do their work. Millennial employees want freedom away from traditional work hours; it can done by allowing them to work from anywhere over a cloud-based storage system.

Letting employees be themselves at work, while  embracing and using their talents  will engage them more.

New and old hires will feel empowered if they receive regular positive feedback. Meanwhile, more freedom to complete tasks with less micromanagement and entrusting them to take on new positions with greater influence within the company, has potential to engage employees more.

Additionally, managers and human resource departments that have put a greater emphasis on a worker’s strengths rather than focusing on his or her weaknesses has shown an increase in more engaged employees. A separate 2014 Gallup poll found employees were more engaged at work and less likely to leave if the supervisor paid proper attention to their strengths. The actively disengaged rate plummeted to just 1 percent when workers said their boss noticed their talents and efforts.

How Big Data and Technology are Improving HR

There isn’t a single business sector that hasn’t attempted to incorporate the use of big data into their operations. With technology advancements seemingly happening on a daily basis, companies have access to a greater amount of in-depth information than ever before. Subsequently, the most savvy of organizations use this information to implement changes that deliver positive outcomes on a consistent basis.

This strategy can also be seen in corporate management of human resources. From onboarding to payroll, many companies are using technology to streamline these processes and make them more efficient.

Using data to improve HR management
Traditionally, the candidate recruitment, screening and hiring steps taken by those working in HR have been time-consuming. This is because these steps have been largely paper-driven. For example, job seekers would apply for a position by completing a paper application while also leaving a hard copy of their resume.

“The HR technology market, which is now more than $15 billion in software alone, is exploding with growth and innovation,” Josh Bersin, a representative of Deloitte Consulting, said at the most recent  HR Technology Conference and Expo held in Las Vegas last October. “One of the most disruptive changes is the trend toward automating HR practices and integrating systems, making them so easy to use that people think of them as part of their daily life.”From there, this information would be handled by someone in HR who would then pass it off to a manager or some other decision-maker looking to fill a certain position. After a hire had been made, the new employee would be required to fill out several documents, such as federal and state tax forms, confidentiality agreements and benefit elections, just to name a few.

However, technological advancements in HR have essentially eliminated these steps by converting them into a digital format that reduces the amount of time both completion and processing take.

We use technology on a daily basis. It’s prevalence is something that is hard to escape and it has become virtually impossible to complete any business-related tasks without the use of a computer, smartphone, tablet or other gadget.

As it relates to HR, it only makes sense to incorporate these tools and make the jobs of these professionals – who already don multiple caps on a daily basis – that much easier, especially when it comes to hiring.

Technology innovations and the prevalence of big data are driving sweeping changes in HR.Technology innovations and the prevalence of big data are driving sweeping changes in HR.

Technology can attract millennials and uncover employee hiring costs
Hagel and Company wrote that with the existence of social networks that can be used as candidate-sourcing pools and job interviews being conducted via video chat, this has been largely driven by a workforce that has already begun to skew younger.

Millennials are essentially the employees of the future, and companies looking to attract these individuals may consider to incorporate the use of technology to attract success. Individuals in this generation seem to prefer a recruiting and onboarding experience that involves the use of technology.

Companies electing to go a more traditional route risk alienating candidates who could potentially push the organization further and help it reach new heights.

In addition to being able to recruit and retain candidates, automating the HR process can also result in companies significantly lowering their overhead by accurately revealing the average cost of recruitment and retention for each employee.

“Organizations will increasingly seek to understand the complete picture of workforce costs,” Dave Weisbeck, chief security officer of Visier, wrote in a company blog post.

The use of HR management software is a great way for companies to improve many of their back-office processes. Working with a service provider such as Payroll Experts can help organizations create more efficient HR processes and improve the strength of these departments as a whole.

Payroll Management Software Can Significantly Reduce Overtime

Although the economy has shown strong signs of recovery, this does not mean that companies are looking to spend money frivolously or in a reckless fashion. Certainly organizations are looking to retain their current staffing levels and add to their talent pool with qualified individuals who can help them achieve their goals, but neither is a sign of fiscal irresponsibility.

Even though there are large numbers of businesses looking to add to their payrolls, they would prefer not to let this particular business expense get out of hand. Overtime, while necessary in many instances, can become costly for companies. These extra monetary payouts on top of an individual’s hourly wage can add up pretty quickly.

This is one of the reasons a number of companies are considering using payroll management software to get a better handle on exorbitant overtime. HR Businesses and Legal Resources wrote that for a company to maintain profitability and keep labor costs consistent, overtime must be managed properly. When this doesn’t happen, organizations may have to reallocate portions of their operational budgets to make OT payments.

However, this action can have severely adverse affects on other important areas of the business.

For many companies, paying employee overtime accounts for a significant portion of their business expenses. For many companies, paying employee overtime accounts for a significant portion of their business expenses.

What makes OT unmanageable?
One of the reasons why the use of technology in business has gained such traction over the years is the elimination of errors caused by human interaction. This is especially true when managers or other organizational leaders must manually keep track of hours worked and any overtime owed to employees. Depending on the number of workers, this process can be extremely difficult to manage manually.

However, payroll management software can help simplify this process in a variety of ways. According to HR-BLR, one of the biggest decisions that companies looking to reduce OT can make, is by using software to uncover specific data related to employee hours and potentially mitigate OT altogether.

Organizations can use a payroll management system to gain a deeper understanding of all employee hours worked and then develop labor schedules to address the most immediate needs of the business. Through better scheduling, especially during peak hours or times of year when activity is highest, organizations can better decide if and when OT will be necessary.

Companies would also be able to better understand why OT is necessary in the first place. One of the primary benefits of a human resource management system is that it can help spot trends using certain sets of data. For example, the software can pinpoint the times of day when productivity is low and managers can then make a decision to bolster the labor force doing this time to rectify the situation.

These are just a small sampling of the ways in which technology can help organizations get a better grip on overall workforce costs, but there are other advantages offered by this technology as well.

What’s next in HR automation?
Most HR software does a great job in helping to manage most primary and secondary departmental functions. However, Human Resource Executive Online wrote that vendors are now creating platforms that can help HR professionals streamline other necessary departmental functions as well.

Some of these include employee referrals, reference checks on potential job candidates, and even better understanding the ways staff members communicate on both internal and external social networks. All of these areas can give companies a much deeper level of insight into the effectiveness of their internal HR functions.

There are a number of technological advancements on the horizon in the HR sector. Organizations hoping to make the jobs of their HR professionals easier, allowing them to function consistently at a high level in their roles, should keep an eye out on the vendors and platforms that can help them achieve their goals.

Love Them or Hate Them: How to Revamp Employee Rating Systems

Rating employees is an activity many people dread, whether it’s entry-level workers or the corner office. So much time is spent formulating performance management systems from number scores to the right workplace language to use i.e., “on target” and”meets expectations.”

According to Jennifer Steinmann, a chief strategist at consulting giant Deloitte, the company spends almost 2 million hours every year on its employee rating system from filling out forms to discussing and devising a system.

Wasted hours
All of those hours spent creating a system can come up short if ratings reduce workforce morale or do not engage employees in the part they play within the company.

“We’d call them the walking wounded,” Devra Johnson, a human resource director at Intel Corp., told The Wall Street Journal, about employees who received a middling grade.

The computer chip manufacturer still uses a scale ranking system that goes from “outstanding” to “improvement needed” even though other corporations such as The Gap and Microsoft decided to abandon the rankings altogether because of low employee morale.

According to Marc Farrugia, the vice president of Sun Communities Inc., a manufactured home developer, some bosses will use the employee rating system to give good marks and bonuses to high-performing employees that they are afraid might leave. On the other hand, some rating systems just do not give a clear picture because an employer will rate all employees as average to get the paperwork done and out of the way.

“I’m being more and more convinced that ratings are doing more harm than good,” Farrugia told The Wall Street Journal.

A study conducted by the University of Iowa found that 62 percent of the time, a supervisor’s rating of employees depended on the boss’ perceptions and subjectivity.

Frequent talks with employees is a better approach to evaluating their performance.More face-to-face talks with employees could be a better way to evaluate their performance.

A new system
So how does a company find a happy medium to encourage  employees to do their best but not cause anxiety or confusion? Deloitte thinks they have the answer by using the results from the Iowa study.

Steinmann said the solution is more face-to-face communication between supervisors and employees. Team leaders and bosses need to spend the time they currently use devising rating systems to actually talk with employees on a regular basis to discuss job expectations, how the employee is feeling about their role, how they can grow and where they see their career path going.

Having this dialogue is a better way to know what positions employees would be right for or where they would succeed in the company.

According to Steinmann, these weekly check-ins followed by quarterly meetings with an employee can give employers and human resource departments a better grasp and clearer picture of a hire’s performance rather than a laundry list of predetermined skills the person needs to meet.

The revamped employee review system could also add to retention rates while cutting down on workplace anxiety when it comes time for employees’ performance meetings.

Paperless Human Resource Practices Becoming Trendy

The permeation of technology into our society has benefited a wide range of business sectors, and human resources is certainly no exception. Traditionally, HR professionals managed extremely large numbers of hard copy documents. This included items such as paper resumes, applications and onboarding information such as tax documents and benefit elections.

However, many companies have decided to digitize many of these processes, making those who work in HR more efficient in their day-to-day operations. The use of human resource management software has become increasingly popular with companies of all sizes. The ability to save time and allow HR professionals to focus on more critical business areas are just two of the reasons why adoption of this solution has gained momentum in the business world.

“The use of human resources management software has become increasingly popular.”

ERP.asia wrote that some of the key benefits of a human resources management system are the capture of correct employee data due to an integrated self-service option, reduced errors related to demographic and tax information and overall improvements in onboarding speed and efficiency. In addition to these advantages, there is also the mitigation of large quantities of paper being needed for each of these areas.

For those organizations looking to become more efficient in the management of human resources, here is a list of helpful guidelines on how to remain in compliance at the local, state and federal levels when using HR software:

  • Ease of accessibility: At some point in time, every company will need to undergo an audit to ensure that all files are complete and maintained in accordance with established laws at all governmental levels. Business Management Daily wrote that this information must not only be organized and stored properly, but there should be no hurdles when it comes to gaining access to this information when required during an audit of employee files and personnel records.
  • Separation and adequate management of medical files: According to HR Legalist, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to keep these files for a minimum of one year, while the Family Medical Leave Act guidelines calls for this information to be stored and maintained for three years. Both must be maintained separately from common personnel files. The website suggests creating two separate databases for both pieces of information with distinct access protocols to be established for each.
  • Disposal of hard copies: Once information pertaining to an employee file has been converted digitally, Business and Legal Resources wrote that the originals must be properly disposed of and destroyed immediately. However, this action must only be taken if certain state and federal guidelines do not recognize electronic records as being a suitable substitute for data recorded and stored in a hard copy format.
  • Proper handling of I-9 forms: In accordance with guidelines established by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services, HR Legalist wrote that companies using a human resource management system must not only keep I-9 information separate, but also conduct self-auditing to ensure that every document has been signed electronically, properly stored and indexed for easy retrieval, and have the ability to reproduce this information into a hard copy format when necessary. In addition, companies must store this information for a maximum of three years after an individual is hired and one year after the employee separates from the company.

Going paperless in HR through the use of software has continued to gain momentum in the business world as the many benefits of this practice are being realized. For organizations considering this step, working with a third-party provider well-versed in the understanding of laws at the local, state and federal levels would be advantageous.

The Death of the Individual Independent Contractor

Article Courtesy of Kraig Marton of Jaburg | Wilk PC

A Growing Trend Points to an Uncertain Future

It should come as no surprise that the workplace environment is rapidly changing. In the past, many industries have routinely hired temporary or part time workers and called them independent contractors. After all, it is a lot easier and saves money. But those days may be ending. Changes in policy and stepped up enforcement now make it highly risky for any employer to classify any individual worker, even if hired part time or temporarily, as an independent contractor.   

The consequences can be incredibly serious for an employer that claims a worker is an independent contractor when they are really an employee. There can be fines, penalties, and enforcement actions. And a problem with one agency will be just the beginning because many agencies now share that information.

Savvy workers can improve their situations in many ways if their employer wrongly claimed they were an independent contractor. The employee could find themselves covered with Worker’s Compensation, unemployment coverage, and other employment benefits if their employer misclassified them.

Perhaps it’s time for employers to bite the bullet and quit claiming they have individuals who are independent contractors. To learn more click here.

What to Look for in an Applicant Tracking System

A human resource management system can make the lives of HR professionals much easier. Automating certain functions can make these individuals more effective in their roles and allow the department to operate like a well-oiled machine.

The benefits of an HRM system can be seen in the sourcing and recruitment activities of those in human resources. The success of any organization is closely tied to the skill and talent level of its employees. As such, consistently bringing in individuals who are highly qualified is the ultimate goal of any company’s workforce assembly plans.

Applicant tracking is a critical part of the recruitment process. A system of this kind helps those in HR post open positions to multiple job boards at once, screen resumes as they come in and can even generate pre-interview questions that will help identify if an individual meets all of the necessary requirements of the position.

Applicant tracking system can make the candidate recruitment process easier. Applicant tracking systems can make the candidate recruitment process much easier.

There are a number of HRMS platforms on the market today that come equipped with an applicant tracking component.  When screening software vendors, there are a number of questions that should be asked to ensure that the solution selected will be able to adequately meet the needs of the organization. Here are few things to be mindful of during the selection process:

  • Reporting and analytics: These days it seems that almost every aspect of corporate operations is data driven. HR is certainly no exception. As such, when choosing an applicant tracking solution, it’s important to query the vendor on the robustness of platform reporting capabilities, the Smart Recruiters Blog wrote. From identifying the percentage of rejected applicants, the time it takes to fill a position, to calculating cost per hire, these metrics can help an HR department isolate its weaknesses to make the necessary improvements and build on the aspects of recruiting it already does well.
  • Cost: No two companies are the same and neither is an applicant tracking system. Some solutions are designed to be used inside of large organizations that do large amounts of hiring, while others are more geared toward smaller firms that may only hire a few people per year. According to The Tim Sackett Project blog, many companies often invest too much capital when it comes to purchasing an ATS. Organizations should understand their own hiring trends and use this information to choose a system that will meet their needs.
  • Agility: There are a number of technological advancements that have made software more functional and practical than ever. Companies who have HR decision-makers who are constantly on the go, may want to consider an ATS that offers mobile functionality, myStaffingPro wrote. Being able to review resumes and candidate qualifications using a smartphone or tablet ensures that no potential employees slip through the cracks.
  • Document formatting: This may seem relatively minor, but when it comes to the effectiveness of an ATS, it’s a big deal. Many systems allow applicants to upload copies of their resume. However, Careerealism wrote that when candidates are given the option to attach a resume in a PDF format, it makes it difficult for the system to read. Vendors whose solutions make .doc, or Word formatting a priority is a plus.

An applicant tracking system is a vital tool for HR professionals to use during the sourcing and recruitment processes. However, taking the above mentioned considerations in mind will eliminate selecting a system that doesn’t generate an adequate return on the initial investment being made into platform adoption. Thoroughly understanding the company’s needs and aligning them with vendor offerings will make the process of choosing an ATS much easier.

Tips for Developing Human Resource Recruitment and Retention Strategies

Effectively managing human resources is a challenging task. However, for HR professionals, dealing with employee turnover can seem to be a never-ending part of the job. There will always be individuals who come and go. However, the most successful organizations are those that can keep their best workers on board while attracting new candidates who will be willing to help the company grow and thrive so that they may flourish professionally as well.

“Maintaining a high employee retention rate isn’t impossible.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Job Opening and Labor Turnover” report from December 2014, 5.1 million people were hired in the month and there were 4.9 million separations. Of the latter figure, 1.7 million workers were either discharged or laid off, and 2.7 million employees quit their jobs. Both actions put an enormous strain on the efforts of those in HR tasked with replacing individuals who left their posts and ensuring those already working remain with the company.

Despite the challenging nature of both tasks, maintaining a high employee retention rate isn’t impossible. Those in HR must work with decision-makers and other organizational leaders to create an environment that prevents staff members from seeking outside opportunities.

For HR professionals, retaining top talent is just as important as attracting qualified individuals to come and work for an organization.For HR professionals, retaining top talent is just as important as attracting qualified individuals to work for an organization.

Here are a number of helpful suggestions to develop an internal culture that will not only help attract quality talent, but also make it difficult for individuals who may be considering leaving to follow through on their plans:

  1. Set expectations during the initial interview: HR professionals are often on the front lines of hiring. These individuals often make the initial contact with potential candidates and these discussions will routinely set the tone for interviews that take place with hiring managers or other decision-makers. CEO.com wrote that it is important for those in HR to communicate clearly to job seekers what the company’s expectations are, and if possible, outline what management will look for in potential prospects, both pre- and post-hire. Doing so will make an individual feel more at ease and help them determine if the organization and the position are the best fit for them personally.
  2. Create and promote professional development action plans: Most employees are motivated by recognition received for a job well done, as well as an opportunity to move up the ladder and advance within a company. Unfortunately, the road leading to a promotion is not always clearly marked. This can lead to worker frustration and increase the chances of both voluntary and involuntary separation. According to Forbes, HR professionals should clearly outline the ways an individual can progress inside of an organization and maintain an open door policy should staff members have any questions related to their current standing and what they can do to improve their chances of receiving a promotion.
  3. Develop an attractive benefits package: Those working in HR often wear many hats and manage a wide range of duties. One of these is benefits management. Job-seekers will accept an offer of employment for a variety of reasons, and salary may not always be the most important one. A robust benefits package can greatly improve a company’s retention rate. Forbes suggested that corporate leaders work closely with HR professionals to better understand workplace demographics and the general needs of staff members to create a benefits package that will not only be attractive to those seeking employment, but for those who may be inclined to leave in search of a better plan with another organization.

Is HR Consulting Right for your Business?

Having a human resource consultant involved in a business can lead to more effective processes in terms of managing employees and benefits. Many different types of companies have used HR consultants to fill a gap in their hierarchy, to replace a traditional in-house HR director or to improve operations when current methods fail to produce desired results. But how do you know if using a consulting service is right for you? Answering a few questions will indicate whether such a need is present within your company:

HR consultants are valuable to many types of businesses.Adding a human resource consultant can be the key to better functionality.

Are HR functions causing problems with benefits, compensation or employee engagement?
Because the HR department is directly involved in administering the various payouts and perks employees receive at a company, delays in these processes can have a significant and negative effect regarding staff engagement. Bringing in a consultant allows businesses to find problems in the processing and provision of these benefits, reducing the time spent and eliminating reasons for employees to become less engaged.

Do seemingly intractable problems exist in your HR department?
Are there persistent concerns related to HR administration that have been noticed and discussed, but not resolved? The Houston Chronicle’s small-business section pointed out that HR consulting efforts bring expertise to a business that may lack it in a specific area. Consultants can help troubleshoot specific issues as well as provide day-to-day guidance, depending on the situation.

Is a small HR department getting overwhelmed?
Demand Media said an HR team getting overwhelmed is one of the common reasons to supplement a current structure with a consultant. As businesses grow and change, it becomes more difficult for an HR team to meet increased demands for their resources. Bringing on a consultant can help address many related issues.

Senate Passes ACA Small Group Market Rule Repeal

Article: Courtesy of Arizona Benefit Consultants

On Oct. 1, 2015, the U.S. Senate passed legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that the small group market in every state be expanded to include businesses with 51-100 employees.

The Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier in the week. It has been reported that President Obama will sign the Act into law, although some sources previously indicated that he might veto it.

Small Group Market Expansion

Most states have historically defined “small employers” as those with 50 or fewer employees for purposes of defining their small group health insurance market.

Effective for 2016 plan years, the ACA expanded the definition of a “small employer” to include those that employed an average of between one and 100 employees.

The PACE Act eliminates the ACA’s new definition and gives states the option of expanding their small group markets to include businesses with up to 100 employees.

Impact on Employers

The expansion of the small group market was expected to have a significant effect on mid-size businesses. These businesses would have been required to buy coverage for employees in the small group market, which is more heavily regulated than the large group market.

This change was expected to increase premiums costs for employers and employees and reduce flexibility in plan design due to added small group market requirements.

Some states have already amended their state laws to adopt the expanded small group market definition. These states will have to take action to undo those changes.

Most states are already taking advantage of a transition rule provided by the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS has said it will not enforce small group market regulations for mid-size businesses if their policies are renewed by Oct. 1, 2016.

This means that many employers have already been able to delay moving from the large group to the small group market. The PACE Act will make this relief permanent.

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Issues to Look for During Job Interviews

If you’re a recruiter, hiring manager or even a regular human resource staffer, you most likely interview your fair share of job applicants. You might even recall the most enjoyable and worst interviews you’ve conducted based on the candidates.

At times you can easily spot red flags with a job applicant, but sometimes certain traits won’t be readily apparent. Additionally, what some would consider “warning signs” for a position, others might not.

The following is a list of issues hiring managers should look for when identifying poor candidates for a position:

1. Tardiness
Excluding a natural disaster or a serious issue, such as a death in the family, if an applicant arrives late for a scheduled interview then it should be a warning sign to the hiring manager. Showing up late is especially a red flag for an office that depends on team work, according to Fortune magazine. Tardiness may show that the candidate is lukewarm about the position he or she has applied for or indicate that they may be nonchalant about serious business maters.

Job candidates exhibiting any of these behaviors could be a problem.Interviewers should be wary of job candidates that show any red flags.

2. Treating others poorly
Another issue that should give you pause is if the job seeker exhibits rude or impolite behavior to administrative assistants or other staff members, either over the phone or in person while waiting for the interview process to begin. Being disrespectful or disdainful to staff before they’re even hired should be a red flag, according to Monster.com. It could be an indicator of how he or she will treat you and your employees in the future.

If candidates show arrogant behavior and over-confidence without having any past completed projects to discuss in the interview, these can also be warning signs Fortune noted, adding that such attitudes could conflict with their ability to adapt and change to their work environment. A nice demeanor is much more valuable to an office that works as a team, according to The Society for Human Resource Management.

“If it is a red flag that directly conflicts with the job description, I always acknowledge it and explain how the job description indicates it as a red flag,” Laura Paramoure, president of professional training firm eParamus, told The Society for Human Resource Management. “A good attitude can be more important for a person to succeed; a good culture fit is as important – some say more important – than any required skill.”

Other warning signs may include a job applicant that speaks poorly or negatively about former employers. Even if candidates switched jobs because of a bad supervisor or experience, they need to recount it in a professional manner, according to Fortune. Placing the blame on others should be a red flag.

“You should start to get suspicious and ask some probing questions to get to the bottom of the incongruity,” Kaitlyn Annaert, human resources manager for Voices.com told SHRM. “Comments about manager disputes or when someone says negative things about a company they previously worked at should be a sign to pause.”

3. Vague and inconsistent answers
The whole purpose of a job interview is to get to know the candidate applying for the job and to see if he or she could be a good fit for your company. A human resource team should be wary if an applicant answers questions in the meeting with vague responses. If you ask questions about the candidate’s resume and his or her answers do not coordinate with what’s written then you and your hiring managers should be cautious.

The applicant might not be articulate, however, so ask he or she for verification of any degrees they received or proof of past employment if you feel the candidate is suspicious.

Human resources should be on the lookout for any red flags candidates display in interviews.Hiring managers need to be on the lookout for any warning signs applicants might display.

4. Arriving unprepared
A good candidate should show up to the job interview prepared with copies of his or her resume and cover letter as well as wearing proper professional attire. Besides applicants’ outward appearances, recruiters may consider eliminating candidates who haven’t researched the company or the position they applied for, according to Monster.com. A good candidate should arrive with knowledge of the business and at least a few questions about the company or role.

Airbnb Looks to Create a New Workplace Culture in the Sharing Economy

The company that revolutionized the hospitality industry in just a few short years, is looking to do the same when it comes to its corporate human resources and employee benefits.

Airbnb, the San Francisco-based business that allows people from all parts of the world to list available rooms for rent, wants to take its mantra of “belong anywhere” and apply it to its office environment. An open-floor plan, glass conference rooms, lounges and free food are just a few of the amenities the company is using to brighten employees’ workdays.

According to Jeanne Meister, a Forbes contributor and partner at Future Workplace, the web-based bed-and-breakfast purveyor wants to create a “workplace of experience.”

So far, the new culture is working as employees new and old give good marks to the business on Glassdoor.com, a website that allows workers to rate their employers both past and present. The CEO maintains a 97 percent approval rating on the website.

Meanwhile, the welcoming culture is also finding a place in the firm’s human resources department as it implements changes to how it treats potential job candidates.

Airbnb's human resources wants employees to feel more at home during the workday.Airbnb hopes to bring a feeling of hospitality to its office.

Working from home at the office
Much like other Silicon Valley firms, Airbnb’s office is an open-floor plan devoid of any cubicles. However, the company wants to take the office layout further by forming a welcoming culture for its employees and potential job candidates.

“At Airbnb we are focused on bringing to life our mission of creating a world where you can belong anywhere, by creating memorable workplace experiences which span all aspects of how we relate to employees, including how we recruit them, develop them, the work environment we create with them, the type of volunteer experiences we offer them, and the food we share together,” Mark Levy, Airbnb’s global head of employee experience, told Forbes. “While these may sound like common sense, they are not.”

Not only does Levy perform the usual human resources tasks of talent development and hiring, but also implementing a new, more welcoming office culture.

The company wants work to feel more homelike, from the free meals it serves employees, to allowing its staff to work from anywhere in the office including the kitchen and living room areas of the building.

According to Joe Gebbia, Airbnb’s co-founder, the goal is to bring the hospitality it specializes in to its office. The free office meals focus on cuisine from the nearly 200 countries Airbnb operates in while employees are invited to meet and work in one of the office’s lounge rooms.

A welcoming company
Meanwhile, Airbnb also revamped its recruiting and human resource management process to be more in line with these new welcoming attitudes. After taking feedback from existing employees about the hiring process, the answers collected led the department to explore new ways of treating candidates.

According to LinkedIn, the HR department even went as far as applying for job openings with competitors to see how they were treated from initial introductions to interviews. The experience led Airbnb’s HR to rewrite its auto-reply emails to applicants by taking out the bland tone and inserting a friendly and warm personality.

The human resource policies and procedures related to rejecting job applicants also received a major readjustment.

“Now we reject candidates via email and invite them to call for feedback,” Jill Riopelle, Airbnb’s head of recruiting, told LinkedIn. “It’s a win-win: it gives them time to digest, it makes the conversation more productive, and that in turn makes them feel more positive toward Airbnb.”

Therefore, potential candidates will receive a welcome from start to finish with the company.

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