For some employers, “onboarding” is defined as that first paperwork meeting with a new hire — shaking hands, filling out tax forms and practicing signatures. For others, onboardingis simply any learning that takes place from day one on the job. Either way, both interpretations of onboarding are necessary parts of the hiring process, as employees work to acclimate to a new employer.
Even after you’ve sealed the deal, there is still a small gap of critical time between job acceptance and an employee’s first day. Usually a few weeks are given for employees to transition out of their current job and take a breath before their new one begins. But a lot can happen during that gap. Job offers are often used to bargain in other interviews or leverage a promotion with a current employer.
Some employers combat this risk by starting the onboarding process earlier. “If we can get them in the door faster and have them start completing insurance forms, they’ll be less likely to quit!” But research shows retention comes less from eager paperwork meetings and more from relationship and exceptional hospitality.
Guarding the Gap
Creative initiatives to welcome and engage new hires, from the time of offer acceptance to day one, are called preboarding. While ultimately beneficial for employers and a company’s bottom line, preboarding is most effective when genuinely focused on the employee.
Whether it’s that first meeting or the first few weeks of work, employees begin learning everything about their new employer during onboarding.
Preboarding offers an extra-mile opportunity for the employer to learn about the employee.
Taking time and honest interest in a new hire demonstrates the value a company places on its people. This helps new hires make the jump to a new workplace and feel at home faster (while inadvertently encouraging their best work).
Attention to hospitality details may seem like a waste of time, but ignoring preboarding can prove costly. Consistent communication with new hires before their first day prevents ambivalence and makes employees less likely to continue communication with other potential employers. Lack of engagement before starting work allows new hires to feel that nothing is yet final and continue pursuing other offers.
Employers may use up some time on the front end, but preboarding also saves time on day one. Since a new employee has already become familiar with the team, culture and business operations in the weeks after acceptance, day one can be a work day rather than a day of introductions and tours.
So how is it done? Is it really just muffin baskets and welcome emails? Sometimes!
Different ideas work better for different companies, but these small things can help new hires feel welcomed, valued and excited to stick around:
Before an employee’s first day, schedule a tour followed by a lunch with immediate team members or their managers. This helps the employee to feel more confident on their first day instead of walking in blind.
Send the employee a questionnaire after acceptance to outline things they like and dislike. When figuring out where to go/what to cater during a welcome lunch, the employee’s favorite place can be chosen without putting them on the spot. This questionnaire can be used throughout an employee’s time, as a way to intentionally thank them for good work. (Employers can also post employee questionnaires for everyone to see, fostering intentional relationships between coworkers.)
Pay attention in interviews and follow up with specifics. If a new hire mentions their family in the interview, send a gift basket including treats for their kids. If they just moved to the area, gift them with favorite local goods and a list of restaurant recommendations from their coworkers.
Keep checking in. Consistent emailing shows an employer is available. Sending a schedule of the first week, creating their email account and telling them when their desk is set up lets a new hire know you’re anticipating their arrival and keeps them in the loop.
Some companies offer “show up bonuses” on an employee’s first day or at the end of their first month. Of course this isn’t feasible for every company, but this bold gesture is an unexpected way to show appreciation.
Follow through. Hospitality attempts can seem insincere if new employees are left to fend for themselves after day one. In the initial learning stage at a new job, consistent check-ins are necessary to ensure confident acclimation specific to each new hire. This care and attention will not go unnoticed and can help ensure best fit for both employees and employer.
You may not be able to give your employees a million bucks, but you can make them feel like it! These small gestures help to guard that gap of critical time, and keep your employees excited about their new position with you.
Want to spend less time with the HR hassle and more time with your people? We want that for you too. Contact us today and see how Servant HR can give you the freedom to focus on what’s most important.
Halloween is just around the corner, and yet… few things spook employees more than those looming, end-of-year reviews.
A recent survey of 1,000 full-time employees found that one in four have called in sick because they were anxious to face an appraisal. Almost 75% felt “in the dark” about how their managers viewed their performance leading up to review, and 62% felt blindsided afterward. In the aftermath, 15% have cursed, 15% have cried and 28% have started looking for other jobs.
If employees are ghosting, impending performance reviews should spook employers as well. But the review process doesn’t have to be so scary! Here are three tips for making performance reviews more of a treat than a trick:
1. Start Early
Feedback should be established as routine upon hire. Performance reviews don’t have to be once a year, doomsday meetings—they can be monthly or weekly touchpoints that start as early as an employee’s first day. Early reviews are a chance to develop trust and relationship between manager and employee and to get employees comfortable with talking about their performance.
Consistent communication and feedback from the start helps employees understand the purpose of appraisals and develop confidence in the review process.
The first tip makes this second tip a lot easier. If relationship is not established, it’s common for managers in performance reviews to talk… a lot. However, a performance review is most effective as a discussion, not a lecture. Lectures can make employees feel like they’re just being yelled at, but intentional, back-and-forth conversation allows employees to experience trust and respect from their manager. Managers encourage this kind of conversation simply by asking questions. Good performance reviews offer space for employees to consider their goals, preferences, set-backs, achievements and failures. Rather than listing off highs and lows, employees are best motivated by analyzing individual potential and growth. A review should prioritize gaining insight into the performance of both employee and employer, which means feedback about management should be prompted as well.
3. Be Positive
Healthy organizations don’t sweep issues under rugs. Problems are dealt with right away and any necessary critique or discipline happens in real time—not months later at a performance review. Honest confrontation and consistent communication should be practiced daily in order to ensure positive performance reviews. Spending the majority of time on the positive aspects of an employee’s performance is almost always more effective than spending the majority of time on the negative. Don’t neglect areas that need improvement, but no employee’s performance is completely negative—make sure that is not being reflected in the review. Acknowledge failures by asking questions, exploring options and landing conversations on upbeats. People are best motivated when specific actions are recognized and appreciated. Providing direct encouragement and ways for improvement keeps performance reviews constructive and cultivates healthy work relationships.
Trust and relationship is at the core of effective reviewing. If done early and often, performance reviews don’t have to be daunting, vague meetings that hang over the holidays. Asking good questions and seeking the best for employees develops respect—enabling managers to humbly accept feedback and constructively analyze ways for employee improvement.
Every year, Servant HR client Edge Mentoring, brings renowned speakers to the heart of Indianapolis for the half-day EDGE|X leadership conference. The conference audience is people leading in all arenas—workplace, community and home—and this year’s EDGE|X conference theme is “People Centered Leadership.”
This theme hits close to home for us in HR, as a good human resources team focuses first on humans! Naturally then, a healthy HR team plays a strong role in organizational leadership development.
While often viewed as a heads-down operation, HR should perhaps be the most people-centered in its vision and approach toward company development. Meeting this expectation requires HR professionals to step up to leadership themselves—consistently offering strategic opportunities for internal growth.
As advocates for employees, it is necessary for HR to prioritize investment in their company’s people. Investment looks like a variety of things, from relationship building to internal promotions, but perhaps the most popular way HR promotes leadership development is corporate training.
Less Training, More Practice
The 70:20:10 principle claims 70% of learning happens from on-the-job experience, 20% from bosses and mentors and 10% from formal training. However, “traditional HR” tends to focus majority of energy on the 10% formal training—seminars dedicated to bagels, leadership styles and self-reflection.
Despite being imbalanced, research also shows too much introspection actually amplifies our blind spots—the exact opposite of the intended effect. Richard Pascale, acclaimed Fortune 500 adviser and faculty member at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, says in his book Delivering Results, “Adults are more likely to act their way into a new way of thinking, than to think their way into a new way of acting.”
Insight vs. Outsight
A more strategic opportunity for leadership development is offering experience. The term “outsight,” coined by UK organizational behavior professor Herminia Ibarra, is defined as “the fresh, external perspective that comes from doing new and different things and interacting with new and different people.”
Directly opposite of formal training guiding you to personality insights, outsight involves trusting the 70:20:10, evaluating job experiences first and trying out employees in different spaces. Spending time with this 70% demonstrates HR as people-centered leaders.
This approach is certainly more difficult. The relational work combined with the risk of assigning jobs different from what employees have done in the past, makes a self-reflection seminar sound pretty good.
However, research shows strategic views of work are developed best through “experience in an internal project outside of usual responsibilities.”
To put it simply, people become better leaders by practicing leadership.
For HR, the job here is understanding the work employees have done forever, and then designing cross functional projects that challenge their comfort levels and offer exposure to senior leadership. Essentially, giving people places to practice.
The Role of HR
Whether outsourcing with a PEO, or housing an internal department, the separation from a company puts human resources in a powerful and unique position. As a kind of third party, HR is able to maintain an objective position when evaluating the needs of an organization.
HR also has access to cross-cutting relationships through its work with every level in a company. Encouraging diverse and externally focused networks for both the work table and the executive table, keeps ideas fresh and lets employees know they are valued by their employer.
This doesn’t mean including random employees in all high-level meetings. But, it does mean assigning side projects and activities to help cultivate new relationships and skills. (After all of that, then we can do the self-reflecting!)
The responsibility of HR is to care for a company as a whole. HR professionals steward their function well by cultivating the best possible relationships and opportunities for both employer and employee. This requires an entirely people-centered approach to leadership, and this approach in return, creates people-centered leaders.
But don’t just take it from us! To learn more about people-centered leadership and how you can cultivate these leaders in your organization, register for the Edge|X conference on Friday, October 5th. We’ll see you there!
Last night, a federal district court in Texas granted a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing and enforcing its recently revised regulations on the white collar exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
As you know, the overtime rule was scheduled to take effect Dec. 1 and would have raised the salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476.
Employers should note that this is only a temporary injunction, not a permanent one. The injunction simply prevents the regulations from going into effect on December 1. There will be a decision issued at a later date on the actual merits of the case, so changes in the FLSA salary threshold for exemption may be back. However, the judge wouldn’t have granted the preliminary injunction unless, among other things, he thought the states showed a substantial likelihood of succeeding on their claims.
What may be likely is the change will eventually go through – but maybe with a lower number or a small business limitation or exemption created by the Trump Administration and the new Congress.
As Servant HR has worked through the ramifications with many of you, some of you did make some decisions. If your decisions included salary increases to employees in order to maintain their exempt status and HAVE BEEN COMMUNICATED, you may wish to leave that in place as it would be difficult to take that back. We cannot assume that the overtime rule will be permanently barred.
However, if there are exempt employees who were going to be reclassified to nonexempt that have not been or wage increases had not been promised yet, you may want to postpone those decisions and give the litigation a chance to play out.
Servant HR will continue to advise you as implementation becomes more clear.
While we have already reached out to many of you, if you have specific questions about your situation or wish to undo something you already have communicated to us, please contact us directly.
Medical insurance renewal season is usually considered a “necessary evil” in the grand scheme of medical insurance. We want the coverage, but we hate anxiously waiting for the renewal rates. I had the opportunity to sit down with Founder and President of Servant HR, Jeff Leffew, and talk about this topic. During our discussion, Jeff shared his perspective on three key areas’ the Servant HR team gets asked this time of year.
1.) What’s different this year?
Healthcare and medical insurance is ever evolving, which makes renewal seasons unique every year. And this year is no exception. According to Leffew, the biggest distinction is the length of time this renewal season covers. In fact, the renewal season for small groups that are not currently on an Affordable Care Act (ACA) qualified plan will extend until the end of 2017.
What does that mean?
As an example, a company has an Oct. 1st, 2016 renewal date. Instead of renewing Oct. 1st, 2017 (or 12 months from the last renewal) their plan would actually go to the end of 2017 (or a 15 month period). If their renewal date was Dec. 1st, 2016, it would go to the end of December 2017 (or 13 months).
Why is the renewal season length different this year?
When the ACA was established, there were serval provisions given that delayed the ACA from being fully implemented. Because these provisions will be gone by January 1st, 2018, it doesn’t make sense for companies who renew on October 1 to turn around and renew again for only three months.
Why is this important to you?
When you get your renewal percentages, they might be a tad higher than normal because they could be covering 13 or 15 months. It all depends on your renewal date.
2.) Options are dwindling
For small groups in Indiana, the options for medical insurance coverage are beginning to dwindle. According to Leffew, groups with fewer than 50 employees realistically have only three or four providers that will offer quotes.
The environment for an insurance company is so complex that it’s difficult and costly for new companies to break into the market. As a result, they barely get off the starting line because looming regulations and complexities make profitability quite stingy for these companies.
3.) Judgement calls are gone
There was a time when the requirements to obtain medical insurance were less formal—less controlled. Those days are over. Now that companies are being held accountable by the federal government, the standards are black and white.
While the intentions may be good, Leffew believes it has taken away the ability for medical insurance companies to make judgement calls. He says, “Not all businesses look alike. There are unique situations, but the human element has been taken out.” With the reality that everyone has to look the “same”, judgement calls become less of a viable option for companies to make.
UPDATE 10/01/16: The House approved a six-month delay in overtime rule implementation, trying to defer legislation that would have gone into effect on Dec. 1. The Republican-backed Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools and Nonprofits Act, or HR 6094, would postpone the implementation of new Department of Labor rules that would shift the threshold for determining overtime pay until June 1, 2017.
The House approved the bill with a 246 to 177 vote. The bill has moved to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future. President Obama has reportedly threatened to veto the bill. If you have questions, please contact us.
As many of you have heard from us at Servant HR and other sources for months, the Obama Administration has finally come down with new regulations that establish a new wage minimum for your salaried/exempt employees. Employers must be in compliance by December 1, 2016 so if you haven’t already analyzed your situation, now is the time. The odds of this being overturned are virtually non-existent regardless of the 2016 election outcome.
Snapshot of the New Regulations
These regulations update the minimum salary level required for an employee to qualify under any of the common exemptions. Currently, that salary level stands at $23,660 per year ($455 per week). The new regulations raise the minimum salary level to $47,476 ($913 per week).
What This Means to Employers and Employees
As an employer, if you have employees who are classified as exempt under the current FLSA regulations “duties test” but who make less than the new wage base, you will need to make some changes. Employers essentially have three choices to be in compliance with the new regulations:
Keep the employee’s exemption status intact by increasing the employee’s pay to at or above the new minimum threshold
Change the employee’s exemption status to salary/nonexempt, and while still paying a salary, begin paying overtime for all hours worked over 40 hours in a given workweek
Change the employee’s exemption status to hourly/nonexempt, and only pay for hours worked and begin paying overtime for all hours worked over 40 hours in a given workweek
How to Prepare for the Upcoming Changes
These changes require a lot of planning on the part of all affected employers. Here are some ways to get prepared for the coming regulations changes:
Confirm employees currently treated as exempt truly meet the “duties test” to establish a list of affected employees
Which FLSA Exemption applies?
Is there a Department of Labor Fact Sheet that can support your decision?
Analyze affected employees.
Which employees currently are classified as exempt under the duties test, but have salaries below the new threshold?
Gather all relevant data points, such as:
How many hours per week do these employees currently work?
How much overtime would need to be paid if the employee changed status to nonexempt? How much would that cost?
How much would it cost to increase salary levels to meet the new thresholds?
Will there be a need to hire additional staff (perhaps in lieu of paying overtime)?
Are there systems in place now to accurately calculate hours worked (including all overtime) for all affected employees? If no, what would it cost to put such systems in place?
If salaries are increased, what impact will this have on the overall organizational salary structure? Will salary bands need updating? Will upper levels in the organizational hierarchy also need pay increases to stay in alignment with their relative level within the organization?
Put together a clear process for decision making.
Reach agreement on what changes must be made.
Establish consensus on timing of changes.
Plan for the transition process
Determine exactly what changes will be needed within the payroll system to either change these employees to nonexempt (and pay overtime) or change their salary levels. Create a plan to accomplish either task, depending on which is chosen for a given individual.
If any employees will be moving to nonexempt status, create systems for time tracking and create training on how to use those systems and to keep them accurate.
Consider whether updates will be needed to your overtime policy and start drafting these now.
Start making assessments for individuals and groups to determine the best course of action.
Consider to also take this opportunity to do a job analysis and update job descriptions accordingly to reflect the true duties of the job. This will allow a more accurate comparison against the guidelines in the future.
Create a systemic process for review of employee exemption status to ensure that employees are always classified correctly going forward, especially since the salary basis will undoubtedly be changing periodically in the future—employee salaries will need to comply to keep the exemption in place.
Communicate, communicate, communicate to minimize the disruption these changes may cause.
How prepared is your organization for these coming changes?
This article does not constitute legal advice. Always consult legal counsel with specific questions.