Which employees within an organization are most engaged and why? These two questions are becoming increasingly important to business owners and managers for several reasons. First, popular research continues to show that the higher the employee engagement, the more efficient their work and the better the business. Also, companies are increasingly fearful that disengaged employees will look at options elsewhere now that the economic rebound is feeling more certain.
So, how do managers work toward having a more engaged staff? Identifying the employees within an organization who are more engaged in their jobs may be half the battle. Gallup.com has conducted surveys on employee engagement for years and has recently released the results of their latest study. Since 2009, almost all employee groups have become more engaged at work, but the group that has improved most includes managers, executives, and officials who have climbed from 26% engagement in 2009 to 36% in 2012.
While it is not clear why many high-level employees are more engaged, there is room for careful speculation. Gallup infers that it is likely that executives and managers are personally more invested in pushing their organizations to do well, especially in light of the economy, and may have more faith in the recovery of our economy than lower-level workers. It is also highly likely that they feel and can exert more control over the operations in the organization while the economy is down.
However, this leaves out a key point. Higher-level managers are responsible for many more tasks, individuals, and day-to-day processes than lower-level employees. While engagement is based on who is more excited and enthusiastic about their work, it also may show who is more committed to work based on levels of responsibility. Managing others can create a feeling of engagement out of necessity since those doing the job would not be there if they were not able to stay engaged and on-task. Leaders who feel a sense of purpose and control are also probably more likely to be engaged in their work, especially if they find managing others to be a rewarding job.
It is possible that there is a correlation between how much responsibility an individual has within an organization and their level of engagement. It is also possible that the employees with the least responsibility feel less engaged in their work because they have no control over the direction of the organization. For example, manufacturing and transportation workers were the least engaged in 2009 and still were in 2012. Service workers were the only group whose engagement over the last few years has fallen, going from 32% in 2009 to 29% in 2012. It’s likely that these statistics can be attributed to these workers often feeling they are the least responsible for company direction.
There is perhaps a lesson to be learned, which is that more responsibility and autonomy can create a sense of pride in one’s work and therefore boost employee engagement. Employees want to feel needed and like their work matters in the grand scheme of the organization. They want to feel ownership over their projects; a good manager will facilitate that sense of accountability and ownership. If you are looking for the least engaged employee, find him or her at the bottom. Give that team member more responsibility and build up the satisfaction he or she takes in the job and watch employee engagement soar, along with productivity.
Readers: Do you feel that you are an engaged employee? Are you a high-level or lower-level employee in your organization?
This week, yet another study has come out to prove the obvious. It says the long-term unemployed are being discriminated against when they submit their resumes online for jobs. Shocker. Really? Who knew?! I’m sorry for the intense sarcasm, but as someone who is passionate about teaching people how to find work in these challenging times, this kind of information being showcased repeatedly only does one thing: tells the long-term unemployed to give up.
Well, I’m not a quitter – and I don’t want the long-term unemployed giving up on themselves either!
I got so upset, I reached out to a top recruiter to get his thoughts. I wanted to see if he could provide some insight as to what would make him place a long-term unemployed person. Lou’s what we call an “old school” recruiter. He’s very confident in his ability to assess true talent. He even wrote a book as a way to teach recruiters how to find top talent for their clients which also doubles as a book to show talent how to get the attention of recruiters. I called him and said, “Lou, when you meet a long-term unemployed person, how do you decide if they can be placed?”
Lou said, “Easy. I ask them what they’ve been doing while they’ve been out of work. If they can’t tell me at least one measurable way they’ve bettered themselves professionally, I tell them I can’t help them and to call me in a year when they’ve done something.”
Wow. How’s that for honesty?
Lou went on to say he believes part of the reason we have such a high level of long-term unemployment is that we’ve created a dependent workforce. Lou says he sees people every day who still don’t understand it’s their job to keep their skills both current and relevant. When you’re unemployed, if you can’t see the need to do that on your own – you’re sending a clear message to employers you aren’t the kind of proactive, resourceful talent they’re looking for.
So, what’s an out-of-work person to do?
My answer: Disrupt the process. The problem isn’t just in the employers looking at the date of your last job, it’s also in the dysfunctional process of submitting the resume online. Of course the long-term unemployed don’t stand a chance when submitting their credentials electronically – they aren’t there to convey in-person what they’ve been up to. The only viable solution is to go around the process. With that in mind, here are three tips for beating the unemployment stigma.
1.Never apply solely online. When you see a job you know you are 100% fit for, start looking for people you can connect with who work there. Leverage your social networks and find someone you can contact about the job. I don’t care if you have to ask a friend to introduce you to a total stranger. In the words of Nike, “just do it!” Nobody can job search alone. You need to ask for help. In fact, you have to do everything in your power to get someone to “pitch” you for that job – or at least get you a shot at pitching yourself. At the very least, getting your killer cover letter and a solid recommendation walked in to the manager can help them overlook the lack of recent employment on your resume.
2.Create an interview bucket list. Stop going after the posted jobs and competing against thousands of other applicants – many of whom are employed and will get the interview over you. Instead, identify 10-20 companies you want to work for and start proactively connecting with people who work there. Discuss what types of problems they are busy solving at their companies and what types of skill sets they’ll be looking for to support their efforts. Get the inside track on potential opportunities and a head-start on the interviewing process by making friends with those you’d like to earn a chance to work with. Who knows? If you can develop a professional relationship based on shared professional interest, they just might help you get hired.
3.Develop a problem-solving marketing platform. I always tell people, “you are a business-of-one.” That means you must develop a marketing plan for your business’ unique brand. The most attractive talent are aspirin to an employer’s pain. Identifying a problem you like to solve that showcases your professional expertise is vital to off-setting your lack of current employment. If you can talk about how you like to save and/or make a company money using your proven approach to solving problems, you can show them the fact you are between jobs right now doesn’t mean you aren’t a valuable commodity. Instead, they just might see you as an underutilize asset!
NOTE: Success with these tips hinges on one thing.
The above tips only work when an unemployed person believes in their professional abilities. Rejection is part of the job search process, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified or capable. You must trust in your skills and continue to market them. You’ve got nothing to lose, so why not go out there and play by a new set of job search rules? That way, you can use the tips above to give yourself a fighting chance.
In light of the recent explosion at a fertilizer plant in the city of West, Texas, safety plans and regulatory processes are being called into question. While several agencies at the national and state levels strive to regulate all working environments, some more dangerous facilities may be slipping through the cracks, making catastrophic accidents not only possible, but likely.
Due to the high volume of worksites that are monitored and regulated, not every site can be inspected every year. Agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspect sites with complaints against them or that have a high priority attached to them (because, for example, they use or store highly explosive materials). However, even facilities such as West Chemical & Fertilizer Co. can fall off the radar. OSHA had not inspected this facility since 1985, at which time they fined the plant for storing anhydrous ammonia — a serious violation. Yet, the fine was only $30, and other violations cited at the time carried no fines for the company.
Not only had OSHA found West Chemical & Fertilizer in violation of safety regulations, but multiple other agencies also had done so (ThinkProgress.org, 4/22/13). Though many citations at this company have resulted in fines and further inspections, the penalties seem like a slap on the wrist when compared to the company’s profits. Annual revenues for the fertilizer manufacturing industry are around $20 billion (IBISWorld.com). Even the $10,000 fine issued in 2011 by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for multiple serious violations would not have been a huge loss in profits for the West fertilizer plant, and they only paid a portion of it after taking responsibility for the violations.
While agencies that inspect and regulate all private companies in the United States have an excellent set of regulations in place, enforcement becomes difficult when some companies fall to the bottom of the priority list for inspections. Also, while inspection results are a matter of public record, the agencies that conduct inspections and issue citations do not have to communicate with each other. Therefore, when one agency finds a company in violation of a safety regulation that could impact another agency’s inspection schedule, a lack of communication makes it impossible for that agency to know that an inspection should take place.
Although companies know that an impromptu inspection can bring to light many violations within their workplaces, the likelihood of such an inspection is low. Even then, the penalty for failing to comply with safety regulations can be low compared to the financial “benefit” of cutting corners. These factors, coupled with the fact that larger companies are often the targets of scrutiny, allow small companies with a long history of violations to get by without implementing better safety plans. The result may often be a small problem, but even one devastating event like the one in West is too many.
Readers: Do you think government penalties for failing to comply with safety standards are high enough to effect positive change?
Employment agencies diversify as companies outsource functions that are too costly to maintain in-house.
By Linda Hersey
Email the author
February 11, 2013
Think your business does not need the services of an employment agency – or cannot afford them? Think again.
Here are 6 top reasons to use a staffing company, according to HH Staffing:
1.Liability: When you engage the services of a staffing firm, it is not your employee. Therefore, you have no liability for workers’ comp, professional/general liability, payroll taxes and unemployment claims.
2.Cost: Though you will pay a service fee or hourly mark up to a staffing/recruiting firm, you need to keep in mind that they are paying all of the workers’ comp, professional/general liability insurance, state and federal payroll taxes. Generally this adds up to about 12% of what the staffing firm pays the employee.
3.Flexibility: When you only need someone for a few weeks or months it can be outsourced to an agency that specializes in your type of position and already has the recruitment advertising dollars spent and qualified candidates lined up. You are able to use the agency’s employee as much or little as you need and can discontinue their assignment once your work is complete.
4.Expertise: There are staffing agencies and recruiters who specialize in any industry or position you can imagine. By working with an agency or recruiter that has a specialty for your type of position, you will immediately access the exact talent pool you are trying to reach, as well as upping your chances of getting the best possible candidate.
5.Time: Recruiting, screening and hiring a candidate, whether temporary or long term, takes a significant amount of advertising dollars and your personal time.
The holidays are a great time to celebrate the year’s accomplishments, and in many cases, that includes employee evaluations. Though many managers hold these reviews on their workers’ anniversary dates, others choose to have a formal evaluation of each employee’s performance at the turn of the New Year so they can reflect on the previous 12 months and set goals for the coming ones.
Annual reviews offer up a great opportunity to assess your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, gather information about areas in which they need to improve, and offer valuable feedback to help them in their careers and positions. With business practices constantly evolving and new technologies developing, the evaluation process is key to helping employees maintain productivity and grow professionally in their positions.
Evaluations also play an important role in compensation. At the end of the year, employers may hand out holiday bonuses and raises (TradePost, 12/13/12). So while it might feel like you have a good grasp on what your employees have accomplished in their positions and how you want to allot the bonus money, performance reviews iron out all the wrinkles so that you can see the big picture much more clearly.
That said, some companies have actually stopped performing annual reviews because of employees’ inherent expectation that they will come with a salary increase. Still others have ceased the practice because they do not want documented reviews of good performance (as may happen without forethought when managers are untrained in the review process or hesitant to be “too honest” in their evaluations) in the employee’s file in case they need to terminate that employee later.
The key to using this management tool to its fullest potential is understanding how to structure a review so that both you and your employee get maximum value out of it. Here are a few tips to keep you on track (Inc., 8/19/11).
1.Keep the compensation talks separate from the review. You want your employees to come in and honestly evaluate their position, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and determine areas that need improvement. It’s important to make it clear that discussion of compensation will be held separately; otherwise, you will have lost their focus before they even walk through the door.
2.Be honest. This might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many managers have a difficult time doing this. Instead of sugar-coating criticism, be honest and open about areas that need improvement so your employee has the opportunity to grow. That said, there are constructive ways to offer criticism and non-constructive ways that overly discourage employees or make them feel there’s no possibility for “redemption.” Choose your words carefully.
3.Choose your battles. The best of managers understand that good management means tailoring your style to fit the individual employee. Before you enter a review with them, give some honest thought about what’s actually important to improving productivity and what you can let go.
4.Ask for your employee’s input. A review is not about assigning out grades for your employees’ performances, but instead is about working together to improve your role as manager and help them grow in their position. So it’s important to allow them to evaluate their own roles and ask them how you can improve upon your management style of them. It may be tempting to ask your employee to submit a self-evaluation without giving them any parameters just to see what they’ll come up with, but you’ll get a more thorough and thoughtful evaluation if you provide them with some guidance about what criteria you’d like them to self-evaluate.
5.Ditch the forms. Using a generic review form for every employee is like trying to stick a square peg in a round hole—it doesn’t work. Not only does it inhibit open conversation, but you will also see far greater results from the review by tailoring it to the individual employee.
A good employee evaluation is about weighing the costs and benefits of an employee’s performance and determining how to best move forward. Although it’s important to engage in formal reviews each year for both the employee and the manager, a review should not be in place of regular feedback. Instead, it’s a good opportunity to look at the big picture and find ways to grow.
An employee walked out of the company with a laptop computer —with no intent of ever returning it. When confronted, the employee said, “I feel I deserve it. It is the least the company owes me for cutting my hours!” If you’ve been in HR, you’ll recognize this attitude as the “entitlement mentality.”
An entitlement mentality is a “state of mind whereby a person feels they have a right [or entitlement] to” something. And that something usually belongs to someone else … like the employer.
An attitude of entitlement goes hand in hand with another management principle called the equity theory – the relationship between an employee’s motivation and their perception of being treated fairly. In other words, employees have their own perceptions of what is fair. If an employee perceives that someone else is unfairly getting more than they are, they will attempt to level the playing field. To do so, they may resort to fraud, sabotage, or outright theft. In the situation above, the employee perceived that a cutback in his hours was unfair; thus, he was “entitled” to steal a computer (to make the scores even again).
Unfortunately, these situations happen more often than we think. Oh, employees may not often steal a laptop computer, but they may “get even” in other ways. For example: stealing time (padding one ’s timecard), stealing supplies (for personal use), or stealing loyalty (badmouthing the company).
I once worked with a company that operated 24/7 (24-hours per day, 7 days per week). One of the supervisors was asked to work the night shift. He was responsible for overseeing the employees, keeping the environment safe, and meeting the production requirements. Having previously been on the day shift, he resented being put on nights. His way of getting even was to sleep for several hours a night on the couch in the main Conference Room. The employees all knew he was upstairs sleeping. He not only lost credibility with his people but he eventually lost his job. When his motivation tanked, he tried to steal time to even the score.
Three Ideas for Equity
What can you do? Here are three ideas for creating a more equitable workplace:
1.Be observant. Disgruntled employees generally give signals that things are not right. Early on they will engage in “leaving” or “avoiding” behaviors: being late, absent, or taking unauthorized leaves of absence. Or they may under-produce by simply laying down on the job — doing only enough to get by and stay off the radar screen.
2.Listen and ask questions. Most disgruntled employees want to talk. They want us to ask how they are so they can tell us about their hurts (based on their perception). By asking well-honed, open-ended questions (such as when, where, why, and how), we can listen our way to a meaningful conversation. Encourage employees to keep talking by uttering encouraging words like, “tell me more … um- hmm . . .“ The most thing to remember is: it is imperative that we ask and not tell. Most managers want to tell, tell, tell. The secret here is to ask … then listen.
It reminds me of an organization that once wanted to upgrade its assembly process. They hired expensive consultants to come in and run time and motion studies. They worked with suppliers to get just the right equipment. Then they spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to have it all installed. The problems started the minute the switch was flipped and the machinery rolled into action. You see, the company had forgotten to include the employees who worked on the line. They told me later, “if they had only asked us, we could have told them that x and y wouldn’t work. But no, they didn’t ask us a thing! They just hired their expensive consultants to come up with all the answers.” Here was a group of people who knew the answers—and who were entitled to give their input—but who were excluded from the process. The workers finally threw up their hands and said, “Fine. Whatever. They didn’t ask us so now they can just figure out how to get their production out the door.”
3.Institute good checks and balances. Create accountability systems. Make it more difficult for people to cheat, steal, or scam. If we realize that desperate people do desperate things, we can help by creating obstacles to make theft less tempting (such as publishing guidelines for safety, security, and consequences). Some companies mark all hardware and equipment with fixed asset property “tags” that set off detectors if they try to leave the building. Other companies install motion detectors or cameras at all entrances/exits. They may also publish a “one-strike-and-you’re-out,” zero-tolerance policy in case of lost or stolen goods. When the guidelines and consequences are made clear and published, there is less temptation for theft.
Another good check and balance is working closely with your Human Resources department. They can help you spot perceived inequities before they backfire and disrupt the workplace.
By taking a few cautionary steps you can make sure the entitlement mentality doesn’t invade your company.
Bonnie Cox is Vice President of Training & Development for Select Staffing, as well as the founder of the Power Training Institute. Call (866) 456-TRAIN or email her AT firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.powertraining.biz
Asking for Facebook Passwords: Good Screening or Bad Idea?
It comes as no surprise that an increasing number of employers are asking job applicants to hand over Facebook login information during interviews. This controversial screening tactic has inspired numerous media headlines and left many job seekers screaming about rights to privacy. As a hiring manager, it’s important to know the ins and outs of this new technique before incorporating it into your screening process.
There’s no question why employers find it useful to access applicants’ Facebook accounts. Thanks to the extensive privacy controls that Facebook allows, users have a wide range of control of what information is public and private on their profile — ultimately allowing people to represent themselves selectively, not necessarily accurately.
Seeing an unfiltered Facebook profile gives employers a better idea of what type of person a candidate is. Do they slander previous employers to their Facebook friends? Are they engaging in risky or questionable behavior outside of work? Are there moral or integrity issues? Employers want answers to these questions so they can protect the interests of their product or service, current employees, partners, and customers.
Although this new tactic allows employers an array of information for hiring decisions, it can come at a heavy price. First and foremost, asking applicants for login credentials is a violation of privacy. People are entitled to the privacy of their personal lives and the ability to keep their account information secure. Unfortunately, job seekers feel pressed to hand over this type of information in a weak job market. Asking candidates for private information can tarnish a company’s reputation and create mistrust and resentment if the employer does decide to bring the candidate onboard (BusinessWeek. 4/9/12).
Furthermore, it is quickly becoming a legal concern for employers. Several states have made it illegal for employers to ask employees or job applicants for social media passwords. In fact, Illinois, California, and Maryland already passed laws banning this practice (BusinessManagementDaily.com, 11/11/12). As social media continues to evolve, states are working hard to define the line between what information is acceptable for employers to obtain and what remains personal information.
And for those who have businesses in states with no legislation regarding this matter, obtaining Facebook passwords could be setting you up for a lawsuit. Not only does it violate Facebook’s Terms of Service, but Facebook profiles provide an array of personal information, such as race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, and more. Having access to this type of information while making hiring decisions could lead to discrimination concerns and lawsuits.
Readers: We want to know! Do you think it is appropriate for employers to ask job seekers or employees for their social media passwords?
posted by TradePost
As an increasing number of Americans work beyond the typical eight hour work day, the distinction between work and personal life is slowing disappearing. In addition to staying late or going in early, employees are now expected to bring their work home with them. In fact, a recent Good Technology study shows that 80% of people continue to check their email and answer phone calls after they leave work for the day (Good Technology, 7/2/12).
Improved technology through smart phones, tablets, and laptops makes it much easier to work outside the office and creates a new level of connectedness among businesses and customers; customers want a near-instantaneous response time when they have needs, and employers expect workers to stay connected, even after hours.
As a result, workers (especially those on salary) are finding themselves checking in at all hours of the day, every day of the week. According to the study, roughly 70% of people check their emails both before they head into work, and before they go to bed. It seems as if “off the clock” has a whole new meaning in this world of technology. Whether on vacation, sick at home, or on a family outing, people are not leaving work behind.
In fact, the average workers spends seven extra hours a week staying connected to their work—that’s almost an entire extra day of working per week that the employee is not getting paid for.
But why are people sacrificing their personal time to keep working unpaid hours? In today’s economy and job market, there is always someone else out there willing to work longer and harder hours. People are working the extra hours in order to keep their jobs and continue driving business, which will keep the boss happy.
The problem with working so many extra hours lies in employee productivity and motivation. It’s hard to stay motivated, as well as positive and driven about one’s job, when one never gets a break from it. That’s why it’s crucial for businesses to encourage their employees to take a break. People need down time to recharge both mentally and physically. After all, aren’t we all striving to “work to live, not live to work?”
Here are a couple of tips for unplugging from work:
•Communicate with your management: It’s important that you and your boss come up with realistic deadlines for projects you have due. If you feel that you need more time, be sure to communicate that and be prepared to give reasons why. And as always, as stuff comes up along the way, communicate that to your boss so that you can shift deadlines as needed and make room for other responsibilities.
•Set a stop time: Each day, set aside some time to unwind. Giving yourself set periods of personal time that are truly yours will make the times when you have to work long hours much more manageable.
•Keep your family first: It may seem as though work can’t wait, and you are too far behind to stop; however, nothing will make you feel more balanced and good about your work then if you make your family time truly family time.
July’s Job Report brings mixed feelings, with an increase in job growth and the unemployment rate according to the latest Economic Situation Summary. The good news is that non-farm payroll rose by 163,000 jobs in July—a figure that nearly doubled June’s revised growth of 87,000 jobs. Although the number still sits well below this year’s first quarter average of 226,000 jobs per month, it certainly supports the notion that our economy is well on its way to making a slow, but steady recovery. The bad news, and rather surprising part, is that the unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.3%, despite the added job growth.
The dual-sided nature of the latest Jobs Report will play an intricate role for both political parties now that elections are right around the corner. Democrats will focus on the gain in job growth to support the effectiveness of President Obama’s policies, while Republicans note the rising unemployment rate as a call for change.
The industries that saw the greatest job growth were professional and business services (49,000+), food services and drinking places (29,000+), and manufacturing (25,000+). Not surprising, temporary help services trended up by 14,000 jobs this past month. With a weak economy and the high cost of turnover an increasing number of businesses turn to staffing agencies like The Select Family of Staffing Companies, to increase productivity and flexibility and decrease costs.
The long-term unemployment number remains unchanged at 40%, as does the average work week, at 34.5 hours. The average earnings on the other hand edged up two cents to $23.52.
Dismal job growth (TradePost, 7/6/12), a seasonal rise in gas prices, and the ongoing European debt crisis (TradePost, 9/22/12) have shaken consumer confidence and caused widespread panic over the nation’s economy. Consequently, we have seen a sharp drop in the stock market in reaction to the last three Jobs Reports. A large part of our economy is driven by consumer spending, and the news of dwindling job creation through the second half of this year has caused consumer spending to remain at a low (Yahoo Finance, 7/6/12).
Media outlets nationwide speculate whether the U.S. economy is headed into another recession, but are they forgetting the economic trends of previous years?
This is the third year in a row that has followed a pattern of booming economic growth in the first part of the year, followed by several months of an economic slowdown.
For example, in 2011, we saw an average job creation of 80,000 jobs from May through August. And In 2010, there was an average of 76,000 jobs lost per month from June through September. Despite this reoccurring pattern that is prevalent year after year, we are continuing to panic each year when the economy stalls in the summer.
Even understanding that the slowdown will most likely be temporary, we still have a long way to go toward a full economic recovery. Since 2008, over 8.8 million jobs have been lost over a period of two years. Since then, we have only replenished 3.8 million lost jobs (Yahoo Finance, 7/6/12). That’s over 5 million jobs that still need to be recovered.
While the plan of action is still unclear where the government is concerned, one thing is for sure—with national elections occurring in just four months; the government will proceed cautiously so they don’t jeopardize their chances come election time.