Author Archives: Tim

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Entitlement Mentality

What is it? How does it happen? How to overcome it in the workplace?
by Luanne Ramsey

Last month, we took a look into what employee engagement looks like and what steps to take as HR leaders to arrive with a happy, committed workforce. We explored how costly a disenchanted workforce can be.

This article will focus on employee entitlement. If the malignancy exists in your organization, you won’t have to look too far to determine whether your workforce is behaving in a “culture of entitlement.”

Workers with an entitlement mentality have a pervasive “What have you done for me lately?” motto. When things are out of balance, there is a resounding feeling of expectation for more. This situation seems to run rampant in organizations with robust employee offerings.

We created an overindulged workforce by trying to make our companies the most attractive to work for, to become the employer of choice. What happened next is unsurprising. We nurtured the expectation of “more”. “More what?” you ask. Frankly, more rights, more perks, more salary and so on. The feeling that persists is one of “I deserve” or perceived “I need.” The entitled workforce registers many more complaints about “treatment” or lack of bestowed benefits, no matter what they are.

This is in glaring opposition to performance. It all goes back to what we learned as children: With reward comes accountability and responsibility. Take a look at the state of the union with large corporate CEO salaries and bonuses for executives-they were “granted” despite performance. Now, we are all experiencing this “greed,” led in large part to the current threats to our economic conditions.

So how do we redirect or find the antidote to this division of shareholder responsibility, and what is perceived as need or loss? It’s a simple equation, really. We must provide multiple vehicles to allow our employees to show gratitude for what they already receive.

Create a simple newsletter or personal card from a leader to highlight their accountability and endurance, and emphasize that their priorities are in the right place.
Highlight performance and outcomes publicly. In doing so, we are “teaching” our workforce about merit. Merit rewards instill higher productivity. Workers that understand this reward system typically see value in giving to the company and not the other way around.
Ask employees to share their stories of how a particular offering or benefit helped them get through a difficult time or brightened their day.
Hold employee forums or town hall meetings, where leaders from various business units identify a grateful employee. Have that employee relate their story during the meeting.
Don’t be shy; make a laundry list for employees to review in terms of the perks/benefits offered. Everyone needs a reminder at times to just how “good” they have it.
Good Luck!

Luanne Ramsey is the Business Development Manager for The Rosen Group. Luanne came to The Rosen Group in February 2008 with a unique background as both a staffing and human resources professional. She has nine years of experience in the global staffing industry–including experience as a Senior Recruiter, Staffing Manager, Branch Manager, and Business Development and Sales Manager. A seasoned HR Professional, Luanne has held leadership roles from Generalist, Employee Relations, and HR Manager to Business Partner for Global Medical, Pharmaceutical Organizations.

© 2009, The Rosen Group Newsletter. Reprinted with permission by The Rosen Group, specializing in Human Resources Solutions and HR Staffing.

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Employee Engagement

How is it critical to your business? What do employees need to feel engaged?
by Luanne Ramsey

Employee engagement in today’s climate of economic instability is critical to the overall success of an organization. Without employee engagement, productivity suffers, morale plummets, absenteeism increases, and high potential employees depart. Organizations are left with mediocrity which directly correlates to poorer outcomes in business results. Collectively, creating increased labor cost at a time when no one needs or can bear the added costs

What do engaged employees look like?

Engaged employees:

Are committed to high productivity.
Have good job satisfaction.
Are less likely to leave.
Contribute to success of the company at a higher level which translates into valuable business outcomes.
Are more likely to give an effort that goes beyond what is expected.
Believe that positive attitudes prevail.
Are team players.
Understand the big picture.
Take pride in the work they do and services or products the organization produces.

Evaluating Employee Satisfaction

If we examine the levers or drivers that affect our workforce, we can plan and take action to increase overall employee satisfaction and thus engagement.

Surveys are an important tool to gauge employee satisfaction. One step in the process that equates to success is establishing a senior leader and support person that have ultimate accountability to produce and communicate the progress and potential bottlenecks of the surveys. All of your company’s leaders need to commit to this exercise and add the tasks necessary for process into their schedule. There should also be clear timelines for follow up meetings communicated across the organization.

Prior to the survey, it is paramount to have much fan fare around the upcoming survey for maximum participation. As part of the preparation, empower teams across different business units to create an environment of honest feedback. A high participation rate and comfort level with giving open answers provides a true broad-based result of the common themes emerging in your workforce.

Once the root cause analysis is complete, the next step should be to begin the process of addressing the dissatisfaction and providing mechanisms to implement suggestions. Following the results of the survey, a team of highly motivated staff, mid-level managers and senior leaders should meet to extrapolate the data points and categorize the priority issues. This is the critical point in setting and meeting employee expectations.

Your survey procedures should also include a pulse survey six months after the original survey. The purpose of the pulse survey is to have employees answer questions that correlate to how well the action items from the original survey are being met. Basically, it’s the barometer as to how well the leaders responsible for both meeting and valuing the employees concerns are performing. With all the shifting priorities this is a necessary step in the process.

Certainly, there are many survey companies that are capable of performing this exercise. Suffice to say that this article is not geared to which survey company to use, but it is important to note the best results utilize both web based and paper driven survey tools. This ensures that all staff have access to give their feedback, and your results provide a realistic representation across the workforce. It is critical as well not to forget those employees that are on leave.

Culture of Communication

Creating a Culture of Communication establishes a sense of hope and trust with the employees. Share your company’s major business factors and your planned action item steps in as many streams possible. Utilizing your company intranet, newsletter, town hall meetings and paycheck stuffers are a few examples of methods of communication that are proven to be effective.

There are some very common themes that emerge across industries and company size, in regards to having a good Culture of Communication.

The top seven workplace factors Employees:

Trust senior management.
Are asked for their ideas and opinions on important matters.
Clearly understand the organization’s vision and strategic direction.
Trust their supervisors.
Receive recognition and praise for good work.
Have a clear say in decisions that affect their work.
Perceive their supervisors as caring and considerate of their well-being.
Due to the current state of the recession and need to drive down costs to stay profitable, companies have had to implement cost saving measures such as reducing workforce, hours and base pay. They have also had to freeze bonuses and 401K matches. These indicators need attention, but there are ways to help meet employees needs while maintaining the bottom line focus.

Ways to reaffirm commitment to employees during recession

Utilize incentives that produce reciprocity equaling rewards.
Provide job enrichment that allows employees to feel empowered and supports autonomous work.
Offer purposeful work to ensure the employee and leadership are aligned with project deliverables directly impacting the overall strategic goals.
Schedule team building opportunities that increase collaboration across business units.
Implement succession planning below the executive level to show employees that they are valued for their contribution. Clearly outline where they are now and what is needed to achieve the next level in their career.
Facilitate those employees ready for next career move now.
By applying these methods there is a clear message that employees will be compensated fairly for their efforts; recognized for both contributions as well as results; prepared for their next role; and have direct impact in the overall success of the company. Without this sense of commitment from the company, their loyalty erodes.

Achieving the high level of engagement is also dependent upon the visibility and accessibility of senior leaders. Transparency of the state of the union will also make employees feel connected and less anxious, as necessary changes are rolled out.

In conclusion, creating a culture that feeds engagement is necessary work that directly affects the bottom line. Engaged employees are your most valuable assets to sustaining the results needed to not only survive the times but to thrive while doing so.

Look for Luanne’s follow up article on employee entitlement next month.

Luanne Ramsey is the Business Development Manager for The Rosen Group. Luanne came to The Rosen Group in February 2008 with a unique background as both a staffing and human resources professional. She has nine years of experience in the global staffing industry–including experience as a Senior Recruiter, Staffing Manager, Branch Manager, and Business Development and Sales Manager. A seasoned HR Professional, Luanne has held leadership roles from Generalist, Employee Relations, and HR Manager to Business Partner for Global Medical, Pharmaceutical Organizations.

© 2009, The Rosen Group Newsletter. Reprinted with permission by The Rosen Group, specializing in Human Resources Solutions and HR Staffing.

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Human Resources and Recruiting During the Recession

By Byron Mackelroy

Defining a clear human resources strategy is key to long-term success during the current economic downturn. Some companies have to make the difficult decision of who to let go, while others face the daunting task of sifting through a mountain of job applications for any position they have open.

For those companies scrambling to stay afloat, analyze each job task and determine the business functions that have the most redundancy. Letting someone go is always a difficult decision, so make sure you act intelligently when you are forced to downsize.

Three tips for downsizing:

If no one is sitting at the tables, make sure there aren’t too many cooks in the kitchen. Being manager top-heavy during a recession is a sure fire way to burn through a lot of money.
Before letting someone go, always ask yourself if the remaining employees are the most agile and flexible people you can retain. During a downturn it is critical to think like a small business and stick with the people who can multi-task.
Talent is talent. If you have the golden goose sitting in an office somewhere, hang onto them tooth and nail. Human capital is your most valuable asset no matter what the situation.
For the growing companies, successful recruiting boils down to information management. Hiring managers need to take advantage of the high supply in the job market and pull in the diamonds in the rough that can take your company to the next level. Another strange byproduct of a recession is that top talent tends to be coveted by the remaining healthy companies. Highly skilled candidates can take advantage of the upside down job market and search for higher paying positions elsewhere or counter offers at their current company.

Three tips for companies looking to hire during the recession:

Keep it organized. More than ever, hiring managers are inundated with applications during the hiring process. Make sure your hiring managers are setup with tools like recruiting software so they can streamline applicant tracking and management.
Watch out for window shoppers. Highly skilled employees might just be looking for a job offer so they can bump their salaries at their current companies. During the interview process do your due diligence to avoid these time wasters.
Talent is talent. Make sure you utilize your top talent. There should be a clearly defined reason for hiring new people. During economic downturns you need to retain what you have and be extra diligent about who you hire.
Whether your company is feeling the crunch or crushing the competition, many of the age-old human resources best practices still apply. Just make sure you are equipped to handle the rush or know who is going to make the cut. Success always depends on your people.

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Pre-Employment Background Checks

by Barry Snyder

Performing a background check is done when a person applies for a delicate kind of job. Employers would only hire people they can definitely trust and if they have to do a background check, they would do it without further questions. The importance of a background check is even more obvious when a person applies for a sensitive position, these are jobs that will put them in close contact with children and those who are elderly. Those people applying for government posts also undergo a background check.

A main reason why there are a lot of people conducting a background check is to know if that person is reliable and trustworthy. When you give your trust to a stranger, is not an easy task. You can never just trust your property or your millions of dollars to somebody you don’t really know. There are times that we even know the person for several years but there are still hesitations on the back of our head before we give our full trust to someone.

Legality and reliability check is the next reason why people conduct background checks. Most employers, background checking is considered as the main tool to evaluate their applicants. They need to know if the participants are reliable enough and have a decent background with their previous employers. When it comes to business, legality of transactions are very important and business owners conduct background checks to identify the legality of the person you are dealing with.

Conducting a pre employment background check is very important in your business because this will help you find many things about an applicant. You as the employer must be ready when a feeback comes back on someone that you thought showed a lot of promise. You also have to inform a potential employee that they have to be prepared for something that they had already forgotten will pop up on the background check and this could cost them the job they are applying for. You and the applicant need to know that there is a lot of misinformation contained in background checks and that all reports on pre employment background checks have to be independently verified by the company who conducted the background check service.

The process of applying is normally comprised of interviews where the employer asks questions on information that they think are very relevant in the workplace. During the interview, the applicant can be on the mode of giving the best qualities that he/she has. Keep in mind that these information that the applicant is willing to disclose do not really speak much of the true identity of the applicant.

Remember that we don’t have any idea if the people around you are using their true identities. It is a fact that you will never know that you are a criminal yourself unless you do a background check for yourself. There are a lot of people who intentionally hide their true identities to victimize or deceive other people. With all these reasons, you have every right to do a background check and you don’t have to be worried about laws because this is legal.

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Show your appreciation for appreciation

The cost of praising someone is nil-but a recent study has found that the payoff can be huge.

When employees want to be praised, it means they care to be seen as competent, hardworking members of the team. Good managers want satisfied, motivated, and productive staff members. A Personnel Today survey of 350 HR professionals has found that the greatest factor in workplace productivity is a positive environment in which employees feel appreciated. The survey reports that two-thirds of the respondents said they felt a lot more productive when they received recognition for their work, while the remainder said they felt a little more productive.

Just feeling productive can be motivating in itself. When workers don’t feel productive, frustration sets in, according to 84 percent of the survey respondents, and 20 percent said they felt angry or depressed when they weren’t able to work as hard as they could.

Here are three tips on providing praise effectively:

  • Be sincere. Give praise only where it is due.
  • Give public praise. Your goal is to encourage the employee to keep up the good work, while simultaneously encouraging others to put out greater effort. Praising in public is a good way to raise general morale.
  • Be specific in your praise. Name exactly what it is the employee has worked on and what he or she has accomplished. Don’t just say, “Well done, John.” Remember that if the employee feels the praise isn’t genuine, it could have a negative effect.

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Reviewing the Review

Many managers hate giving out performance reviews. The process has a nasty reputation, since employees often hate getting any kind of criticism, no matter how diplomatically delivered. And managers often lack the courage necessary to tell people the truth about how they are doing in their job.

But performance appraisals are an important tool to developing a top-notch staff and, therefore, a vital part of managing a team. So every manager needs to think about how to institutionalize the review process.

You can get in the habit of offering praise and weeding out underperformers by following these guidelines:

  • Appraisals must be based on quantitative measurements. Ideally, these criteria should be developed with the input of employees, as workers are less apt to identify and accept quotas and other measurements handed down from on high.
  • Qualitative measurements should be a secondary element of any review, things like whether a team member takes initiative, how he works with the group, etc.
  • Performance reviews should be conducted on a regularly scheduled basis. New hires should receive reviews more frequently. Established employees should be reviewed quarterly.
  • Managers should take time to prepare and conduct reviews thoughtfully. It isn’t time wasted, but time well-invested.
  • Finally, managers should remember that when done with enthusiasm and optimism, performance appraisals are a powerful motivating tool.

-adapted from Entrepreneur

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5 Last-Minute Communication Tips for Fall’s Annual Enrollment for Benefits

By Jennifer Benz

Fall is annual enrollment season for employee benefits and most employers are right in the middle of finalizing their benefit changes and plan designs, creating employee communication, testing benefits enrollment systems and scheduling employee meetings. With everything to consider, how do you know your open enrollment communication will hit the mark? These five tips are simple to implement and will require just a little extra time to take your enrollment communication to the next level.

Keep it simple. Employees top concerns during enrollment are: what is changing? What will it cost? Spell out these answers (and why) in simple easy-to-understand terms along with simple step-by-step instructions on how to enroll. If you haven’t already, create a one-page Enrollment “Tip Sheet” that lists what’s changing in as simple of form as possible (perhaps just a bulleted list), gives brief enrollment instructions and tells employees and families where to go for all the details. Some employees want just the top-line info and some want all the details. This one-page overview will be helpful for both groups.

Make it personal. Resist the temptation to include figures about your total benefits spend or tell employees how many billion dollars per year bad health care decisions are costing the US. Those figures may perk up your CFO’s ears, but your employees need to know how it impacts them, their lives and their families. If you talk about your overall health care costs, break it down into what the company spends per employee. That is, how much do your health benefits add to each employee’s paycheck? When you talk about changes that could decrease costs, tell your employees what that will mean to their pocketbook. “Using generic drugs instead of brand-name prescriptions could put an extra $500 in your pocket each year,” instead of “The cost of brand-name drugs is three times that of generic drugs and adds $800,000 a year to our health care costs.”

Promote missed or under-utilized benefits. Put together a list of the 5-10 benefit plans that employees are not using enough-your health savings account, fitness benefits, voluntary insurance, hidden features of the EAP, your preventive care benefit, commuter benefits, etc.-and put them together as a one-page flyer. Title it “The top-10 employee benefits you’re missing” or “10 ways you’re not getting the most from your benefit plans.” Spell out the program, why it’s valuable and how to enroll/sign up/get reimbursed. Then, ask employees to send in their own tips and use those for a post-enrollment update (you can have IT set up a new email address for you or use your existing benefits feedback channel).

Talk to your employees and let your employees talk. Debating whether or not to schedule enrollment meetings? In-person meetings are always worth the effort. Employees will feel like you are reaching out to them and giving them an opportunity to ask questions. Can’t make it to all of your locations? Hold virtual meetings or conference calls. Post the recording online for employees who can’t make it.

Or, start a benefits blog and ask employees to give feedback and ask questions via the comments section. Too much of a time commitment? You don’t have to be prolific, just a post a week during enrollment season will be of huge value to employees. Reminders and tips about enrollment are simple to post. Also, think about giving employees some “insider” tips about their benefits, the enrollment system or hidden features of their health plan. Chances are your benefits team knows a ton off the top of their heads that employees would be very interested in. (Still convinced you can’t write a blog post a week or worried about your writing skills? Shhhh, your consultant or internal communication group can help write them for you.)

Get managers in the game. Chances are your employees are talking to their managers at least once a week, maybe several times a day. Get “the boss” in the game and give managers the tools and incentive to talk to their employees about benefits. Many retailers send out business updates to all store managers every week. Get a line on enrollment in that announcement (and let that turn into a bullet or two once a month about benefits). Employee benefits are a key reason you can attract and retain a top workforce-managers should know that this plays into motivating their team. Often they just don’t know what to say or how to say it-so give them talking points and a quick run-down on why it matters to them.

Jennifer Benz (Benz Communications) is an award-winning communication consultant and writer with extensive experience in employee health care and wellness, strategic HR and marketing communication. Jen has worked with dozens of organizations, reaching thousands of employees and customers. Her work has been recognized by Business Insurance, the International Association of Business Communicators, Hermes Creative and the Communicator Awards. She has been an influential force behind consumer-driven health care since the industry came into existence, managing some of the most successful early adopter Health Reimbursement Account and Health Savings Account implementations. Prior to starting Benz Communications, Jen worked for Hewitt Associates, where she helped shape the firm’s approach to health care communication. Jen is a member of the International Association of Business Communicators, the Northern California Human Resources Association, the Society of Human Resources Managers, and Women in Consulting. She holds a BS in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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Diverse Recruitment Checklist

The following is a guide for guarantee that your recruitment process is consistent and impartial, and provides you with a quality group of applicants.

  • Your job description should not in any way prohibit anyone from applying because of race, religious belief, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability or cultural background. Include “Company is an Equal Opportunity Employer” at the end of your job description.
  • Target specialty publications, special interest groups and trade associations to attract a diverse pool of applicants.
  • Provide candidates with more than one way to apply for the position, as to not exclude people who do not have access to email or a fax machine.
  • Avoid recruiting solely through word of mouth, as this is an indirect form of discriminating and could lead to hiring a homogeneous team. Keep with a structured approach.
  • Be flexible about interview times and make every effort to schedule interviews that are feasible for people with family or other responsibilities.
  • If you are interviewing a person with a disability, make adjustments to help them compete fairly; and always ask what reasonable adjustments the person may need to fulfill their role.
  • Measure a person’s experience and ability to accomplish the j