Wednesday September 18, 2019
 

13 recruiting mistakes even the best HR pros still make

In a busy day, it’s easy to overlook the basics, and that’s especially
true in the high-pressure War for Talent.

Seasoned HR pros know from experience that hiring the right employee
isn’t a perfect science. Sometimes the best just don’t pan out.

To improve your team’s chances of making the best hire every time, here are 13 common recruiting mistakes that tend to slip back into the process when assessing new talent:

  • Unclear job descriptions – You can’t post a generic job description and hope the candidates who show up will match the ideal you have in your head. The position must be properly communicated to the recruiter or human resources organization. Focus on the skills and qualifications a candidate must have and a few skills that would be nice to have. This will help tailor candidates from the beginning. 
  • Decisions based solely on the resume – You’re not buying a brochure or and advertisement and that’s exactly what a resume is. You need to find out if your candidate has book smarts and street smarts, the knowledge he or she can apply in real time and a passion for the work. Not all of that can be communicable in one page. Granted resumes are important, and you can use the best ones to help you sort through the possibilities, but remember the resume is only what the candidate wants you to see. 
  • Poor quality interviews – Most managers forget to structure their interviews beforehand. As such, they end up asking poor quality, off-the-cuff questions. Instead, it’s best to prepare beforehand and ask tough, probing questions that might make your candidates uncomfortable, but will give you a better idea regarding their past performance and ability to meet the challenge. 
  • Relying too heavily on interviews
    Job interviews are only a
    small portion of the hiring process and should be weighted accordingly. Keep in
    mind, your candidates probably have more experience with interviews than you
    do. They are skillful at presenting themselves in a good light and practiced at
    responding with ideal answers. 
  • Doing all the talking – When conducting an interview, it’s tempting to talk about the
    company, the job or the environment. These are all things your candidate should
    already know. Discussing them in the interview is a waste of time.
  • Signaling the right answers
    This is another drawback of
    talking too much. Many hiring managers tend to give some of their answers away
    and inadvertently prepare their candidate during the interview process. This is
    especially true of yes or no questions. Make sure you keep your body language
    neutral, so applicants don’t simply repeat what they think you want to
    hear. 
  • Not treating candidates like experts – If you’re looking to hire an expert, be sure to treat them like one. If you assume the person sitting in front of you is an expert, you conduct the interview differently. You’ll more quickly determine their competency and gather the facts. 
  • Choosing based on past performance
    Those with a successful
    past aren’t always a sure bet for a successful future. The experience might not
    correlate. Instead of relying too heavily on past experiences, drill down on
    skills you’re specifically looking for. 
  • Hiring in their own image – It’s so tempting to hire the candidates who look just like you do on paper. Don’t fall into the trap of qualifying candidates because they went to the same schools you did or worked at the same companies. Though you might connect with these candidates, these similarities could be hiding some major weaknesses. You also need to be careful when hiring based on personality instead of job skills.
  • Selecting too soon – When searching for a candidate you’re likely in a bind, needing to fill a position as soon as possible. Don’t allow this pressure to push you into a decision too soon. The extra time will ensure you a great match. Don’t hire to simply fill a gap, or you’re more likely to suffer from hiring remorse. 
  • Failing to get second opinions – You need more than one perspective, especially when hiring someone to work as part of a team. Get other people involved in the hiring process. Have them conduct informal interviews and compile feedback before making any type of decision on prospective candidates. 
  • Acting unprofessionally – You expect your applicants to be on time, dress accordingly and give you their undivided attention. Your prospective hires expect the same from you, and you need to make a good first impression. You might have dozens of other priorities or projects on your plate, but when conducting interviews those other jobs can wait. You work for a great company, and you need to sell the job by starting on time and showing your candidates the respect they deserve – make your office a place they want to work.
  • Not doing the research – Though not every position requires an extensive background check, you should conduct at least some preliminary research about the applicants you are seriously considering. A little online research can suffice. Check their social media platforms to see how they handle their online image. Also, follow up with references to see why candidates failed in a job or what previous managers thought of their work. 

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IBM Study: Businesses see big job retraining challenges ahead

In the
next three years, about 120 million workers in the world’s 12 largest economies
will likely need to be retrained as a result of AI and intelligent automation,
according to a new IBM study.

Just two
in five CEOs surveyed said they currently have the people, skills and resources
required to execute their business strategies.

All that job retraining won’t come easy

The same study found the average time it takes to close a skills gap has increased 12-fold — from just three days on average in 2012 to a full 36 days last year!

The study,
called The Enterprise Guide to Closing the Skills Gap, showed that new
skills requirements are rapidly emerging, while other skills are becoming
obsolete.

For
instance, in 2016 CEOs ranked core capabilities for STEM and basic computer and
software/application skills as the top two most critical skills for employees.

In 2018,
the top two skills sought were behavioral — the willingness to be flexible,
agile, and adaptable to change; and the ability to prioritize.

“Organizations
are facing mounting concerns over the widening skills gap and tightened labor
markets with the potential to impact their futures as well as worldwide
economies,” said Amy Wright, Managing Partner, IBM Talent &
Transformation, IBM. Half of CEOs recognize “they do not have any skills
development strategies in place to address their largest gaps,” Wright said.

The core
recommendation is to take a holistic approach to closing the skills gap
including:

  • peer-to-peer learning
    through agile teams and cross-training
  • hands-on practice served
    up in the flow of work, and
  • traditional classroom and
    online learning.

The study
stressed the critical role HR must play in helping to develop dynamic and flexible teams to enable the ongoing
reinvention of work and skills.

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Independent contractor or employee? $4.5 million says you better be sure

In another in a recent string of employee misclassification cases, the owners of a Philadelphia strip club made dancers sign contracts stating they were independent contractors, rather than employees of the club.

But an appeals court agreed with a jury that the employer exerted “overwhelming control” over the terms of the dancers’ work and upheld a $4.5 million jury award for unpaid minimum wages and unjust enrichment.

The club owners argued in the original case and appeal that
the dancers had control over hours, and whether or not they performed private
dances.

In its analysis, the court noted that the employer “established available shift times; fined dancers for tardiness; gave instructions on physical appearance and dictated hair, dress, and makeup choices; established several dance-floor rules; banned changing into street clothes before the end of shifts; and set the price and duration of all private dances.”

Classification isn’t up to employers or workers

Meanwhile, as this and other cases have demonstrated, courts aren’t interested in whether or not a worker signs an agreement stating they are a contractor when determining employee misclassification.

Instead, whether an employer has misclassified an employee depends only on who makes decisions about someone’s work and work conditions.

The size of this award is not an outlier.

In another case involving exotic dancers, a New York City “gentlemen’s club” had to pay $15 million to compensate 1,900 dancers for unpaid wages and compensation.

And, while it might be tempting to focus on the “exotic” aspect of the workers in this case, similar employee misclassification rulings cover delivery drivers, franchisees, and other very mainstream occupations.

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3 ways video interviewing boosts your recruiting results

When someone mentions “video interviewing,” do you
immediately think Skype, Zoom or FaceTime?

While these are wonderful tools for connecting with friends and family, they really don’t unlock the full power of video for recruitment purposes.

Of course, technology will never entirely remove people from
the hiring equation. But, by using video interviewing tools that have been especially
designed for the HR professional, you can greatly enhance in-person interviews.

Here’s a look at how the latest video tools will help you
narrow your candidate pool quickly, while selecting the best person for the
job.

Refine candidate pool with video interviewing

Receiving a large number of resumes in response to a job
posting can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you have lots of
options, but let’s be honest: many of the applicants are likely not suited for
the position. 

Hiring managers spend a tremendous amount of time conducting
preliminary telephone interviews, struggling to schedule a mutually beneficial
time for the call and draining energy by repeatedly asking the same questions.

Phone interview fatigue is real, and the worst part is, there are usually more unqualified applicants than qualified ones. Candidates are sent a link to record the answers to your list of interview questions whenever it’s convenient for them. Hiring managers review the recorded videos as time allows, so there’s no phone tag to arrange an interview time – and zero no-shows either.

Pre-recorded video interviews also save recruiters headspace by eliminating monotonous question asking. By switching to video interviews in the preliminary hiring stage, only applicants with the most potential are invited for an in-person interview.

Find the best person – regardless of location

You want to hire the absolute best person for the job, and
sometimes that’s someone who lives outside of your city – or even your country.
Maybe you’re considering offering them remote work, or maybe the individual
would relocate if hired.

Either way, pre-recorded video interviews allow hiring
managers to overcome the challenges of interviewing people in different
geographical areas and time zones. 

There’s no need for recruiters and applicants to be
physically together in the same room for an informative interview to take
place. Recruiters can watch the recorded answers on their own time, which
allows them to focus on other HR priorities.

But, video interviews save more than time. They can cut
travel costs substantially compared to conventional recruitment techniques.

Collaboration with the hiring team 

Some video interviewing platforms allow for more visibility
and collaboration among all those involved in the hiring process. Instead of
everyone setting time out of their schedules to meet with job-seeking
individuals, the pre-recorded videos can be shared with anyone in your
organization.

This way, recruiters can seek other people’s opinions and achieve a more rounded assessment of applicants. 

In live video interviewing, hiring decision-makers can chat privately in real-time, asking questions or making observations about candidate responses. This, of course, is impossible to do during in-person interviews, where you may want to remain circumspect.

No one can voice their opinions until after the interview
concludes, and even then, there can be debate among peers. Video interviews can
be re-watched, removing ambiguity. 

Whether it’s a pre-recorded or live video interview,
technology allows everyone involved in the hiring process to make better
informed assessments before the final in-person interviews. Everyone is already
acquainted with the applicants before they arrive, so no one is going into the
interview unprepared.

Video interviewing: Making in-person interviews count

Video interviews do a fantastic job eliminating applicants
who aren’t well-suited for the position, giving you greater confidence that the
final in-person interviews are worth everyone’s time. The people who arrive for
an in-person interview have already been vetted and identified as the most
promising candidates.

By introducing video interviewing into your hiring process,
you can save time, money, and your sanity—all while recruiting top talent.

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Employee Retention in Health Care: 4 Keys to Keep Your Best and Brightest

Because the current healthcare climate is heavily focused on meeting strict quality guidelines from the feds and payors while providing top-notch care, employee retention in healthcare is more critical than ever. But it’s also getting more challenging to keep workers from jumping ship.

Retention is difficult in the healthcare industry for
several reasons – one of the most significant being employee burnout.

Whether it’s your nursing team, your doctors or your
front-end staff, many healthcare workers are in danger of becoming disengaged. The
high-pressure atmosphere that comes with working in health care can quickly
drain even the most dedicated worker’s spirit and morale, causing your best
people to leave your organization.

Stories and data abound about how clinical staff at all
levels are feeling frazzled and overworked at hospitals, physician practices,
clinics and other healthcare organizations.

Between high patient loads with little time to provide
personalized care, dealing with data entry in electronic health records (EHR)
systems and long, task-filled shifts, many doctors and nurses are not only
considering leaving their current jobs – they’re thinking of abandoning their
career choice entirely.

Front-desk and registration positions aren’t much better.
Over time, these jobs have evolved from simply answering phones and scheduling
patients to more complex duties, including insurance verification and fielding
complicated coverage questions.

Leaders for Today, a healthcare staffing firm, surveyed
thousands of hospital employees, including doctors, nurses and
administrators, to ask them about their employment plans. Of those who
responded, close to 69% planned to leave their current hospital within five
years – and 37% want to leave their current position within two years.

Not surprisingly, this creates high turnover in hospitals.
Over half of survey respondents worked for at least five different hospitals in
their entire career. Only 4% worked for one hospital during their entire career.

A recent analysis by nurse staffing firm NSI Nursing Solutions shows just how bad turnover is for many clinical positions: Overall hospital turnover was 19.1% in 2018, which is an increase over 2017’s percentage of 18.2%.

Turnover is a significant contributor to high burnout rates in healthcare. When staffing levels aren’t consistent, those left standing must shoulder a heavier burden. Patients must still be treated, and insurance claims must still be processed, so employees take on heavier workloads to keep things running, taking fewer breaks each shift.

This causes workers to feel disengaged. In fact, when looking at employee engagement across a variety of occupations, the healthcare industry ranks at the bottom. Consulting firm Quantum Workplace found that only about 57% of healthcare workers were engaged with their jobs.

Even more discouraging was the finding that 13% of
healthcare employees were either actively disengaged or openly hostile while
working each day.  

Disengaged, burned-out clinicians have significant negative impacts on healthcare organizations and their bottom line. Not only can burnout compromise the quality of patient care (44% of nurses fear that patient care will suffer because they’re tired, according to a survey from Kronos Inc.), it can also increase healthcare costs.

According to a recent article in NPR, doctor burnout adds around $4.6 billion a year to the cost of health care in the U.S. This figure represents how much it costs hospitals to replace doctors who quit – and how much income they lose while their positions are vacant.

What’s harder to swallow is that this a conservative
estimate: It only takes lost hours and turnover into account without
considering any other factors related to physician burnout that may increase a
hospital’s costs, including expensive settlements due to malpractice lawsuits or
issues with quality of care that could lower reimbursement.

That means the actual costs of burnout and turnover could be
even more significant for healthcare organizations. So it’s essential to get a
handle on the problem and improve employee retention.

Employee retention in healthcare tactics

In many ways, stress is the nature of the beast in health
care, so there will always be some turnover with certain positions. But in an
industry where staff can often make or break patients’ outcomes and experience
(which hospitals must keep tabs on as part of new reimbursement requirements),
it’s key to boost your employee retention rates to keep the best and brightest
from burning out and quitting.

With that in mind, what can healthcare organizations do to retain their staff, keep workers engaged and prevent burnout? While there’s no foolproof solution, there are several strategies organizations can try. Here are four that have worked well for your peers:

  1. Recognize staffers’ achievements. Healthcare employees want to feel that their work is valued. This may be especially important for those on the front lines delivering care to patients each day. Recognition makes workers feel like they’re an essential part of the team. Without recognition, employees may perceive themselves as merely cogs in a machine, not realizing how much their efforts matter to the higher-ups. It can be harder to recognize healthcare employees in a formal setting because the nature of their work doesn’t always lend itself to employee appreciation celebrations. But there are other ways to give employees kudos. Send out company-wide emails or put up flyers in hospital breakr ooms so workers can tell their efforts are noticed. Technology can be leveraged to make this easier, as well. Vendors offer various software solutions that help managers and executives easily recognize healthcare workers for a job well done. 
  • Give
    workers a purpose
    . To many workers, it matters whether they’re working for
    an organization that allows them to make their voices heard – and make a
    difference. Health care is no exception. Ensuring that employees feel valued is
    important, but forward-thinking organizations that want to keep their people on
    board will take the next step and help workers see exactly how their efforts
    are helping those around them, while allowing them to offer suggestions for
    improvement. Here, it’s essential to be transparent about your organization’s
    goals and mission. Many employees (especially millennials) won’t want to stick
    around at a hospital or practice that doesn’t prioritize the same values that
    they do. It’s also important to ask for employee feedback and ideas on
    everything from improving patient care to boosting community outreach. This
    makes them feel more engaged in their work and more invested in helping your
    organization accomplish key objectives.
  • Provide opportunities for employees to relax. Doctors, nurses and other clinical staff need an outlet for all the stress that comes with dealing with patients’ chronic and acute conditions every day. There are many different solutions healthcare organizations can try to alleviate this pressure, depending on their budgets and resources. Some hospitals have traded in their traditional break rooms for “renewal rooms,” allowing nurses to take whatever short breaks they can in a more tranquil environment on site. Others have brought in instructors to teach staffers meditation techniques they can practice during the workday or on their breaks. Animal therapy, typically reserved for patients, has also helped staffers feel less overwhelmed. Even offering healthier food alternatives in cafeterias can help reduce stress – since the salty snacks, sweet treats and processed foods clinicians often grab between patients can cause their energy to crash quickly, along with their moods.
  • Create a
    positive culture in your organization
    . Burnout and turnover can skyrocket
    if healthcare employees fear they’ll be blamed or punished for any mistakes
    that are made. There are numerous benefits to having a
    culture at your organization where employees feel comfortable communicating
    openly with their peers and managers about any issues they notice. Instead of
    seeing errors as reasons to punish workers, viewing them as learning
    opportunities can improve patient safety and enhance care delivery. Better
    communication helps managers provide workers with constructive feedback they
    can use to do their jobs better, and employees are more likely to be receptive
    to feedback that’s not given to shame them for their mistakes. Above all, a
    positive culture helps employees work better as a team and feel more connected
    with each other. This can improve their attitude toward coming to work each day
    – making them want to stick around longer.

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Benefit switch allowed unused PTO to go toward student loans

In a recent case study detailing what worked and what didn’t, Dan Bengyak, Vice President of Administrative Services at Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh, NY, shares how his company dealt with a vacation time issue:

We had an interesting problem on our hands when it came to employees’ vacation time — they had too much of it.

The majority of our staff was accruing a ton of PTO, and the demands of their jobs made it nearly impossible to use it all.

We knew this was a sore spot for employees — those who left often mentioned it in the exit interview. We didn’t want people moving on with a bad taste in their mouth.

It was clear we needed to come up with a way to ensure the PTO got used without impacting our productivity.

Cost effective

During this time, we’d also been discussing ways to boost our recruitment efforts for new grads.

That’s when we had the idea to start a student loan repayment benefit, and we’d use employees’ extra PTO to do it.

Our CFO was very receptive to the idea since it was so cost effective. Vacation time was already in the budget, so all we had to do was move some money around.

Bigger impact

Here’s how the program works. Twice a year, any full- or part-time employee can take 30 to 75 hours of their unused PTO and convert it into student debt payment.

This means our people can be paying off as much as $5,000 of debt a year. The best part? Nearly every employee can take advantage of this.

When we first rolled it out, we assumed this benefit would mainly impact employees fresh out of college. But so many more workers were interested in the perk.

There were older employees who’d been with us for a long time who wanted to go back to school. We also had parents who’d taken out student loans on their kids’ behalf.

We quickly realized this benefit was going to have a much bigger impact than on just new young grads.

Overwhelming response

When we first announced the benefit, we were expecting a little hesitation and a lot of questions. Instead, we got cheers and applause!

We were blown away by the employee response — it’s by far the best reaction we’ve ever received when rolling out a new benefit.

The program launched at the start of the year, and we had 40 people sign up right away.

We’re expecting some major growth and wouldn’t be surprised to see as many as 100 people participating by the end of the year.

Improvements all around

We figured this would help with recruiting efforts, but it’s worked wonders on retention, too.

Since parents with college kids can take advantage of this benefit, we have them practically guaranteed to stay on throughout their children’s college years.

Not only that, but morale has gone up. Now, our people don’t feel like their PTO is slipping away, and their student debt is much more manageable.

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Employee engagement: Key steps to recognize and thank good people

Valuable employees need to know their work makes a difference, so it’s important managers to thank good people.

For managers, letting people know their work matters may take a little forethought and effort, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot.

It’s really all about keeping them engaged.

A simple “thank you” goes a long way with making people feel valued. The return on investment is huge for this gesture. These two words can have a significant impact on motivation and morale.

When saying thanks to your good employees, acknowledge the hard work they do, and tie it in to how it’s helping your organization meet key goals. This reaffirms their work is vital to the company’s success.

Top 4 ways to thank good people

When thanking employees, there are several approaches to take.

 Her are the most effective:

  • A hand-written note. Thank-notes may sound a bit old-fashioned, but there’s no better way to express gratitude than with a note. Employees will appreciate the gesture, and it provides a personal touch.
  • A face-to-face chat. Looking employees directly in the eyes and saying “thanks for all you do” is a real motivator that makes
  • them feel valued as people.
  • A phone call. Can’t talk to them face-to-face? Take a few minutes to give an employee a call and thank them. Verbal thanks are always appreciated.
  • An email. If there’s no time to pursue other methods, a quick thanks via email is good way to recognize an employee for a job well done.

Praise specific efforts

When praising employees for their work, be specific. Tell
them exactly why the work stands out.

Research shows simply telling employees they’re doing a
“good job” isn’t enough. Reason: They won’t know what they’re doing right, so
they won’t work to maintain their progress.

Instead, mention what they’ve done well in no uncertain
terms.

Example: “You always hit deadlines.” “Your research is
detailed.” “I never have to correct mistakes on reports.”

This feedback not only makes people feel their work matters,
it’ll motivate them to continue performing to top standards – it’s a win-win
for everyone.

Delivery matters

Besides recognizing employees for specific efforts, managers
should also keep in mind four other guidelines when it comes to doling out
praise:

  • Recognize workers in the moment. It’s best for
    managers to make note of employee accomplishments as soon as possible. This
    helps reinforce top performance by acknowledging employees’ good work right as
    it’s completed.
  • Keep praise in context. The best way for
    managers to recognize their employees is to let them know just how their hard
    work benefits the company’s bottom line. If workers are told that what they do
    is essential to the company’s success, they’ll feel motivated to keep it up.
  • Avoid praising work too much or too little. If
    managers praise their employees enthusiastically for every little thing, the
    words will lose their meaning – and their effectiveness. The recognition given
    should match up appropriately with the employee’s results.
  • Make the words meaningful. Thanking employees on
    auto-pilot out of obligation doesn’t promote results. Managers’ words have to
    be heart-felt and sincere. Inauthentic praise can actually demotivate employees,
    so praise should be reserved unless they mean it.

It’s key to note that for these methods to be effective for
employee recognition, managers need to promote a culture where workers feel
valued in general. Everyone should be treated as an essential part of the team.

If employees feel their managers care about them as people,
and don’t just see them as cogs in the machine, praise will be more meaningful
to them. Workers who feel valued by managers will be more invested in the company,
which inspires them to do their best work.

Give more responsibility

Another way for employees to feel like they matter is to
give them a bit more authority and responsibility as a reward for exceeding
expectations.

Feeling challenged by assignments is key to employee
satisfaction, as reported by over a third (35%) of participants in the
CareerBuilder survey.

So to this end, assign best performers some challenging or
interesting tasks. Let them have a say in their next assignment. Suggest they
mentor or help train another employee.

Or, allow them to take the lead at the next company meeting
or training seminar. Stretching a person’s role outside their job description
and giving them more responsibilities can be its own reward.

Some managers may even wish to change the person’s job title
to better reflect his or her responsibilities and role in the company. With or
without a raise, a more authoritative job title can make an employee feel like
his or her work is being recognized.

As another reward, managers can offer to take on their least
favoritetask for one week to get it off their plates. In turn, they can take on
a manager’s task and really get an idea of what it’s like to be the person in charge,
if only for a day.

Acknowledge  efforts

When rewarding people, it’s a good idea to not only focus on
their raw accomplishments, but also on the effort it took to get there. After
all, managers want to encourage hard work and innovative thinking, even if the
end result wasn’t as planned.

Acknowledging a person’s efforts in pursuing an interesting
idea promotes an environment where employees aren’t afraid to try new things.

That could pay off in dividends for the company. Also,
rewarding loyalty is key to retaining good people. Managers want employees to
feel invested in the company because it encourages them to stick around and
continue doing a good job.

 That’s why it’s a
good idea to celebrate anniversary milestones with the company.

For every five years employees spend at their company,
recognize the time they put in. Hold a special ceremony for these employees, or
tie it in to a general employee appreciation celebration. Handing out pins,
ribbons or plaques are all good ideas.

Keys to recognition ceremonies

There are other ways to thank employees that won’t hurt a
company’s budget. Have a monthly or quarterly recognition ceremony where
managers take time out to acknowledge the people who have gone the extra mile
with their work, and present them with certificates for achievement.

Although it doesn’t take much to plan these ceremonies, the
ones that are the most effective:

  • Fit in with the company culture. If you have a
    more casual work environment, a black tie gala isn’t the best bet to honor your
    employees. Consider your culture and work from there.
  • Have specific personal touches. At many
    companies, honorees are encouraged to invite guests. And besides work
    achievements, accomplishments like birthdays and anniversaries are also highlighted.
  • Incorporate unique company elements. Using a
    cookie-cutter ceremony likely won’t have an impact on your people. Add some fun
    and excitement to the festivities.

The award for ‘big thinker’ goes to …

Often employers reward their people by naming them “Employee of the Month” or “Employee of the Quarter.”

While these are great for highlighting general good work,
try honoring employees for more specific behaviors to encourage it in the
company.

Specific categories to incorporate include:

  • big thinker
  • cost-saver
  • best idea
  • most hard-working, and
  • life saver (complete with a package of the candies).
  • ultimate team player
  • mountain mover
  • Mr. or Ms. Above and Beyond

Even awards for things like “best attendance” can encourage
positive behavior and motivate your people.

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Is your benefits package ready for 2020?

Its never too early to be ready to watch for changes affecting your benefits package for 2020. How can HR pros stay on top of compliance changes? To help, health leader Mercer recently unveiled its annual list of the top compliance issues employers have to consider when putting together their benefits packages for the upcoming plan year.

Health benefits priorities

To help you put together your benefits package for open enrollment, here are the key focus areas of Mercer’s “Compliance Issues for 2020 Health and Fringe Benefit Planning”:

1. Wellness incentives. For wellness programs that include a health screening, employers might need to evaluate the need for any design changes because of the removal of the EEOC’s incentive limit rules.

The DOL and the IRS have their own regs for employers, but
these  seem to conflict. Consider working
with vendors to minimize risk and program disruption.

Also, keep in mind that EEOC’s other ADA and GINA wellness rules still apply, and that wellness programs must also comply with HIPAA rules.

2. Mental health parity. If your benefits package for 2020 offers mental health coverage, you’ll want to double-check it meets the feds’ heightened focus on the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, and the opioid crisis. For some employers, parity compliance requires an understanding of federal regs, as well as state and local laws.

3. Preventive care. All non-grandfathered plans and
related plan documents need to be modified to reflect the latest recommendations
and guidance on preventive care from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force,
the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Centers for Disease
Control and the ACA.

The feds recently updated guidance on skin cancer, osteoporosis, cervical cancer, obesity, unhealthy alcohol use and perinatal depression.

4. ACA compliance. While the ACA is being challenged in court, employers need to monitor developments, but still remain compliant.

For 2020, firms with 50 or more full-time employees will again be
required to abide by the Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions rule (known
as the Employer Mandate) and offer coverage to 95% of their full-timers or be
subject to an IRS penalty.

If you receive an IRS penalty notification letter, you’ll have
30 days to respond. That’s why employers should evaluate the adequacy of their
health benefits records now in order to be able to respond in a timely
manner. 

Employers also need to be aware of the ACA’s so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost health plans. Its effective date was scheduled for 2022, but recently the House voted to repeal the tax altogether. 

5. HIPAA security issues. As you prepare your benefits package for 2020, you will probably want to talk to their providers about whether recent security breaches to data protected by HIPAA warrants beefing up security and risk-management measures. Also, state laws may have implications for health and wellness programs.

6. HSAs. The IRS released its 2020 HSA annual contribution limits for health savings accounts. Here’s the breakdown:

•   HSA
contribution limits:
$3,550 (up $50) for individuals; $7,100 (up $100) for
families (and 55+ can still add another $1,000)

•   HDHP minimum
deductibles:
$1,400 (up $50) for individuals; $2,800 (up $100) for
families, and

•   HDHP out-of-pocket
limits:
$6,900 (up $150) for individuals; $13,800 (up $300) for families.

7. HRAs. Ready for the new landmark ruling that will soon allow employers to provide employees with a new health reimbursement account (HRA) they can use to buy health insurance?

The Trump administration recently unveiled the final HRA rule, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2020. Companies of all sizes will be able to offer “individual coverage HRAs” of up to $1,800 per year, giving an alternative to those who may not be able to afford their employer’s health premiums.

If you’re considering adding this new HRA, firms need to decide which workers would be offered this plan. Firms can only offer this new HRA to different “classes” of employees, such as full-time, part-time, salaried or non-salaried, temps, etc., so as not to discriminate against any employees.

The “class” size is based on the number of employees offered the plan. For example, if a firm has fewer than 100 employees, the minimum class size is 10. For 100-200 employees, the minimum class size is equal to 10% of the total number of employees.

For further assistance on setting up this new HRA account, speak to a live DOL benefits advisor (866-444-3272) or send an email

The post Is your benefits package ready for 2020? appeared first on HR Morning.

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NLRB: Social media policy can’t require employees to use real names online

Time to double-check your social media policies.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has released a 2018 advice memo from its Office of General Counsel regarding “whether various Employer [CVS Health] social media rules are unlawfully overbroad“ under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

The memo delivers mixed news for
employers — the NLRB found that two of CVS’ social media policies did violate
workers’ rights under the NLRA. But the rest of the company’s social media
policies fall within the law.

So, what rights did CVS violate in its social media policies?

The two sections of CVS’ policy the Board identifies as unlawful prohibited activities protected under NLRA Section 7.

The unlawful policies, it said, impinged on workers’ rights to “discuss with each other “wages, working conditions or employment disputes,” and to “engage in concerted activities for their mutual benefit.”

Those rights were included in the NLRA to protect workers’ rights to organize and to publicize what they see as unfair, unsafe, or illegal work conditions.

Who posted this?

One of the things CVS got wrong, the board said, was trying to force employees to identify themselves by their real name any time they discussed anything about the company or its activities using social media.

But, NLRB said, “requiring employees to self-identify in order to participate in collective action would impose a significant burden on Section 7 rights.”

And the company’s restriction on undefined “employee information” on social media also broke the rules.

“While the employer has a
legitimate business interest in keeping customers’ and employees’ personal and
medical information confidential,” the memo says, “it has no legitimate
interest in preventing employees from sharing contact information or discussing
wages, working conditions or employment disputes.”

OK to ban uncivil, illegal posts

The board found no problem with CVS
saying employees can’t post material that’s “discriminatory, harassing,
bullying, threatening, defamatory or unlawful or any content, images or photos
that they don’t have the right to use.”

The decisions, the Board said, are “consistent
with the Board’s ‘duty to strike the proper balance between …  asserted business justifications and the
invasion of employee rights … focusing on the perspective of employees.”

What does the memo mean for your organization?

For starters, you need to review your handbooks, Code of Conduct and other formal policy statements for any language that limits workers’ Section 7 rights and modify or get rid of it altogether.

But you can’t stop there. Other federal, state and municipal laws and regulations specifically protect workers’ rights to discuss discrimination, harassment, retaliation and safety.

And many states frown on employers trying to control workers’ (legal) off-duty activities.

This is a good time to check your
policies against those, as well.

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A great interview doesn’t make a good hire: Here’s what does

For decades now, the hiring process has been the same: candidates apply, employers interview them, and the best one gets the job.

But in recent years it’s become apparent that interviews are starting to lose their effectiveness. Someone who interviews well isn’t necessarily going to be a great employee.

One in two hires fail

A lot of research points to problems with the interview. According to Leadership IQ, 50% of new hires fail within the first 18 months. HireVue found that some managers’ hiring choices only work out 20% of the time.

Google has gone as far to suggest that interviews are often no better than a coin flip, saying there’s no correlation between how well someone scored on an interview and their eventual job performance.

Gaming the system

So what specifically is wrong with interviews today? According to HR expert and professor John Sullivan, it’s our modernized job search process.

With all the online resources available to candidates, they can prepare for interviews in a way applicants couldn’t in the past. Websites like Glassdoor allow job seekers to see what their likely interview questions will be.

Here are the top reasons Sullivan says companies should rely less on interviews:

  1. Candidates have canned answers at the ready. Since they’re able to study up on the interview questions ahead of time, it’s very likely candidates are giving you rehearsed answers. It’s like a student knowing the questions on an upcoming test in advance — the exam then loses its effectiveness.
  2. Lying is easier to get away with. Many candidates have realized that little lies or exaggerations on their resumes will typically go unnoticed. Reference checks usually only involve confirming dates of employment and job title, leaving candidates some room to exaggerate what their responsibilities really were.
  3. Employers disguise realities of the job. In a world focused on the candidate experience, many employers might try to spin what the job actually is in order to attract candidates. But by only highlighting the good aspects, employers practically guarantee the new hire will ultimately leave because the job isn’t what they thought it’d be.
  4. Too much focus on cultural fit. Employers want a candidate who will fit in nicely with the rest of the team. But too much focus on this arbitrary factor reduces the value of the interview. Not to mention, managers could be passing over great candidates just because they do things differently.

Try these instead

The interview probably isn’t going away anytime soon, so here are tactics you can use in the meantime to make more successful hires.

  1. Test cognitive abilities. Intelligence tests might seem unnecessary, but studies have shown mental ability is a great predictor of job success.
  2. Evaluate skills. Along with an intelligence test, a skills test can help demonstrate if the candidate has the talent the job requires. This will help weed out a candidate who’s a great talker but doesn’t have the job skills to back up their claims.
  3. See what your best employees are doing. To figure out what you’re looking for in a new hire, check out what your best people are currently doing. How did these employees perform on cognitive and skills tests? Their results can help you create a threshold for where candidates’ results should be.
  4. Start hires out as temps if you can. Obviously, a great way to make a new hire is to test the person out in the role first. If you can, start a hire out as a temp and transition to permanent if they perform well.

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