INSIGHTS BLOG

Discover how to help your employees achieve personal success.

  • Six Simple Steps to Immediately Improve Your Meetings


    No comments

    Holding meetings is necessary in almost every company regardless of size or industry. Many people would consider them a “necessary evil.” But meetings don’t have to be painful. There are ways to structure meetings within your company to make them productive and even enjoyable. A recent article from Harvard Business review gives six simple things you can do immediately to improve the meetings in your organization:

    Focus on being present. Whether you are the one who called the meeting or you are just an attendee, as a leader you must set a good example by being 100% present. Take a few minutes to prepare before the meeting so you are relaxed and in the right mindset. Running in directly from another meeting may leave you distracted or still thinking about the previous meeting.

    Eliminate as many distractions as possible. Avoid checking your phone. If you have your laptop out to take notes, shut down automatic notifications that may distract you, such as emails.

    Demonstrate empathy. People want to know that you care. Being present will allow you to really pay attention to other individuals in the meeting, which is necessary to demonstrate empathy. Observe others, listen to what they say and ask thoughtful questions to show you are actively engaged in the discussion.

    Set up and manage the conversation. Communicate your expectations for the meeting. You being present is a good start, but to the maximize efficiency of your meetings you need the other participants in the meeting to be present as well. Set guidelines for using phones, ask that technology that takes away from the discussion be put away and encourage people to ask questions.

    Include enough time for each topic. Planning ahead and having an agenda is vital to a productive meeting. When you create your agenda, make sure to set aside enough time to cover each topic. Be mindful of the agenda throughout the meeting to keep the conversation moving so each topic gets adequate attention and the meeting ends on time. If you’re looking for a sample agenda, check out the template in our Effective Meetings Toolkit.

    Slow down the conversation to include everyone. Take a moment to consider who has been participating in the discussion. Gently invite anyone who hasn’t had a chance to share their thoughts to speak up.

    Choose specific times to pause and check in. Plan time for pauses and questions in your agenda. Take the time to ask if anyone has any questions or comments, especially when transitioning to a new topic. When you ask a question, allow people time to digest before expecting a response. Pausing shows that the topic is important enough to wait for a response.

    Share these ideas with your team to help increase the effectiveness of your meetings immediately. It is about showing respect for the participants and taking advantage of time you have carved out to actually get things done. Have you tried this out? Let us know at marketing@aplusbenefits.com.

    Read more
    A Plus BenefitsSix Simple Steps to Immediately Improve Your Meetings
  • Getting Underperforming Employees Back on Track


    No comments

    One of the responsibilities of the leaders in your organization is to help keep employees on track. Even your best employees may underperform from time to time. It is critical to immediately identify and address performance issues to minimize their impact. If you have underperforming employees at your organization, one of these four reasons is likely the cause and the good news is there are simple ways to get employees in each of these categories back on track.

    They don’t understand the instructions. This probably happens more often than we would like to admit. Humans are imperfect communications. We often assume that others have the same knowledge and experience that we do and therefore leave gaps in our instructions. As leaders, it is important that we are clear with what works needs to be done and what the deadline is. We also need to set appropriate expectations for the quality of work to be completed as well. To make sure others understand, ask them to repeat the task back to you.

    They don’t have the ability. There are two reasons employees may fall into this category. First, and most likely, the employee doesn’t have the knowledge or training to complete the job or task to your expectations. This can likely be resolved with some training or coaching. The second reason is improper job placement. Not every person is going to be a good fit for every job. Someone who is not good at math and hates working with numbers, should likely not work in accounting. Someone who is shy and reserved would probably not make a great receptionist or sales person. If you have an underperforming employee, consider whether either of these situations are affecting the employees’ ability to complete the job.

    They don’t have the resources. Consider whether you are providing employees with the necessary tools to complete their jobs effectively. If there are other employees with the same resources completing the same job well, this may not be the case, but it is something to take a look at. Ask yourself if you could you add additional equipment, people, time or money to the job in order to help underperforming employees succeed?

    They just don’t care. You may jump to the conclusion that the employee has a bad attitude immediately when you have an underperformer. It is listed last here, because leaders really need to consider the previous issues first, before taking a look at attitude. There are a couple reasons why an employee could have a bad attitude and each one requires a different approach from the leader.

    Unfair treatment– Take a look at the employee’s peers and direct supervisor and consider whether the employee could feel as though they are being treated unfairly. Talk with the employee and find out if you can help resolve this concern. If there is an issue with the employee’s supervisor, address that as well.

    Unclear vision or goals– Help your employees see how their work ties into the overall vision for the company. Discuss how their underperforming negatively impacts the company reaching their goals. Employees want to feel like their work means something. Like they are part of something bigger.

    Poor work ethic– Not all employees will come into your organization with the same work ethic. Employees who are not performing to your standards should be informed of the performance expectation given the opportunity to improve. Engage the employee in a coaching conversation and put together a performance improvement plan. Set the expectation that if performance doesn’t improve, disciplinary action will take place.

    Coaching employees back to acceptable performance levels is far less expensive and less disruptive than finding a new employee. In a study conducted by the Center for America Progress, the cost of losing an employee can cost anywhere from 16% of their salary for hourly, entry-level employees, to 213% of the salary for highly skilled employee.

    Performance issues take place at every organization from time to time. These tips can help you quickly get these employees turned around, which is a much easier and less expensive option than replacing them. Share this information to your leadership team to help them identify these common employee performance issues and help get employees back on track. Need help? Contact our HR experts at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com

    Read more
    A Plus BenefitsGetting Underperforming Employees Back on Track
  • Hang on to that New Employee You Worked So Hard to Recruit


    No comments

    One of the things we hear most often from the businesses we work with is how challenging it is for them to find the great employees they need to be successful. What can be even more frustrating is losing that employee within the first few months, after working so hard to find that you thought was the perfect fit. This challenge is becoming even more common as unemployment rates continue to drop and the number of skilled workers falls even farther below the number of available jobs. A recent article from Business News Daily addresses this concern that is very real for businesses of all sizes.

    What can you do to make sure that you keep your new hires engaged and happy? According to research by Futurestep, 40 percent of executives felt that new hires left the organization because the role wasn’t what they expected. This is where clear job descriptions and inter=view questions are important in the recruiting process. Just as you are looking for the best candidate for the role, candidates are also looking for a roil that fits them well. Make sure that your job advertisements and job descriptions accurately represent the position. Check out our Recruiting Toolkit for more tips.

    Company culture is another reason new employees may be fleeing your organization. When hiring, consider if the new employee will fit in with your culture. Ask interview questions that allow you to see this such as:

    • What is your ideal working environment?
    • Tell me about your best boss. What did you enjoy most about your relationship?

    Try to give candidates you are interviewing a clear picture of the company culture so they can decide if they think they would be a good fit. It can even be a good idea to take your top one or two candidates to lunch with other employees so they can see how their co-workers interact with one another.

    Having a standard, formal onboarding process for all new employees can also help you with retention. Onboarding should be more than just completing new hire paperwork. More than half of the organizations surveyed by Futurestep have an onboarding process that lasts no more than one week. We recommend that companies develop an onboarding process that allows you to check back with employees periodically over their first year of employment. This allows you to address any concerns the new employee may have early rather than finding a resignation notice sitting on your desk.

    Looking for more ideas to improve your onboarding process and keep those new employees you worked so hard to find and recruit? Check out our Onboarding Toolkit and then contact our team of HR experts.

    Read more
    A Plus BenefitsHang on to that New Employee You Worked So Hard to Recruit
  • Four Steps to Avoid an Uber-like Company Culture Disaster


    No comments

    You may have heard about some of the challenges at Uber in the news lately. The company grew rapidly from a small start-up to a global organization and is now experiencing what many believe to be some major growing pains. It seems clear that the company failed to build a strong ethical culture prior to their explosive growth. As a result, they are experiencing some very public issues including an allegation that Uber’s male-dominated work environment fostered harassment against female employees and a video recently released of the company’s CEO swearing at a driver who complained about his rates being cut. Uber seems to recognize that that their culture needs a major overhaul and seem to be making steps to improve it and the public’s opinion of the organization.

    Uber is not alone when it comes to these challenges. Businesses of all sizes experience many of these same things. Finding and keeping great employees is especially difficult when you have a poor reputation as an employer. A recent article on Forbes.com provides four steps your company can take avoid an Uber-like company culture disaster.

    Understand what company culture is (and what it is not).
    Your culture is not defined by your foosball table or your holiday party. All too often companies think of culture as the “fun stuff” you do to keep employees happy and engaged. Those are perks, not culture.

    Your company’s culture is the set of shared values that guide employee behavior. As the article mentions, culture is what employees do when no one is look. Culture should be looked at as verb, not a noun. It defines what you do (or don’t do) as an organization.

    Establish values that will make the company win ethically.
    If your company values haven’t been reviewed in a while (or you don’t have any) now is a great time to take a look. Having catchy values like “always be hustin” or “be yourself” (yes, these are real values reportedly held by Uber) sends the wrong message to your employees about what is really important. In Uber’s case these values were part of an aggressive work environment that focused on individual results, rather than the success of the team.

    When establishing your values, avoid using generic phrases like teamwork or productivity. Instead describe the behaviors you hope to see from your employees like “proactively help colleagues succeed.” Your values don’t have to be flashy or catchy, they just need to tell your employees what is important to the success of your organization.

    Hold employees accountable to the established values.
    Once you have decided on the values for the organization, be sure to communicate those to the employees often. Explain their importance and how they will put the company on a path toward success. Make your values a part of the language used by your organization. When providing performance feedback to employees, both positive and negative, reference how the behaviors support or detract from the company values.

    Reward those employees that embody those company’s values.
    Publicly recognize those employees who embody the company values and make them a part of their work every day. A little peer pressure goes a long way. Other employees will take notice. Make an example of those that are doing things in line with company values. And while you’re at it, make sure you and your executive and management teams are good examples for other employees. It is important that your leaders live and breathe the company values or employees won’t buy-in.

    Do you have questions or want to bounce your ideas off an HR expert? You can reach our talented team at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com

    Read more
    A Plus BenefitsFour Steps to Avoid an Uber-like Company Culture Disaster
  • Your Employees Want to Know How They Are Doing


    No comments

    Imagine you received a set of Legos without the instructions. You might be able to figure out how some of the pieces go together by looking at the picture on the outside of the box. But as you put the set together, it would be nice to go back to the instructions and check on your progress to make sure you are on the right track and not wasting your r time. It would be frustrating and nearly impossible to complete the set exactly correctly without some instructions.

    This analogy demonstrates exactly why feedback is so important for employees. As small business leaders, we need to let employees know what is expected of them. We need to be the set of instructions they can refer back to in order to make sure they are progressing toward their goal.

    But too often, giving performance feedback takes a back burner for leaders, even though we all know how important it is. According to research from LeadershipIQ, only 29% of employees say they “always” know whether their performance is where it should be.

    Why do leaders avoid giving feedback? The research shows that 90% of leaders say they have avoided giving feedback because they were concerned that the employee would react poorly. What these leaders may be missing is hat giving ongoing performance feedback would actually make these conversations easier. Instead of waiting for a scheduled performance review, leaders need to let employees know in the moment whether their performance is up to par, and that includes both positive and negative performance feedback. When you provide feedback more often, employees get used to it and come to expect it.

    It may be surprising, but employees actually do want to know how they are doing, even if they aren’t performing well. In fact, 57% of employees said they prefer constructive feedback over praise or recognition.

    Keep this in mind as you move forward this week and make giving feedback to your employees a priority. Do you need help getting started? Check out the recording of our recent Performance Communication Made Easy webinar or reach out to our team of HR experts at 1-800-748-5102  or humanresources@aplusbenefits.com

    Read more
    A Plus BenefitsYour Employees Want to Know How They Are Doing
  • Improving Benefits is a Great Investment for Small Businesses


    No comments

    Your benefits strategy can make or break the quality of employees you are able to attract and retain. This is especially true if you are a small business owner, competing with large corporations who offer perks like onsite gyms and daily free lunches. A recent article from Entrepreneur gives several reasons why improving benefits is a good strategy for small businesses.

    1. It’s profitable. Happy, engaged employees are productive employees. A 2015 report from The Aberdeen Group shows that companies with high employee engagement achieve higher annual revenue and receive more customer referrals than companies without.  The purpose of a comprehensive benefits package is to provide employees the peace of mind they need to focus on their work. This may not provide an immediate ROI, but over time having engaged employees really pays off.
    2. It creates a heathier workforce. Employees who have access to benefits are more likely to are more likely to get regular check-ups and take preventative measures to stay healthy. This decreases overall employee absences. Absenteeism: The Bottom-Line Killer, a publication of workforce solution company Circadian, unscheduled absenteeism costs roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 each year for salaried employees.
    3. Turnover is expensive. Studies show it can cost 30 to 50 percent of an entry-level employee’s salary to replace them and for mid-level employees, the expense is upward of 150 percent of salary. The cost of excessive turnover can add up quickly. It is much more economical to retain current employees than it is to find new ones. So what is the best pay to keep those employees you worked so hard to find and train? According to a 2015 study by Glassdoor, 79 percent of employees would prefer more benefits or perks to a raise.
    4. It enhances your company culture. Your benefits strategy sends a very clear message to you employees what is important to the organization. Benefits such as paid time off and flexible work arrangements, send the message that your company values work-life balance.

    What are some of the benefits you can offer to employees?

    There are traditional benefits such as:

    • Health insurance
    • Dental insurance
    • Vision insurance
    • Medical flexible spending accounts
    • Dependent care spending accounts

    There are ancillary benefits options such as:

    • Life insurance
    • Disability insurance
    • Accident insurance
    • Critical illness insurance
    • 401(k)

    Then they are other benefits and perks that you may not think of such as:

    • Paid time off
    • Flexible work arrangements
    • Professional certifications
    • Continuing education/training
    • Free coffee, soda or water in the office
    • Occasional company-sponsored lunches
    • Company-sponsored events (Christmas parties, summer picnics, etc.)

    If you are looking for options to improve your company benefits offering, contact a Client Success Manager at A Plus Benefits at 1-800-748-5102 or service@aplusbenefits.com.

    Read more
    A Plus BenefitsImproving Benefits is a Great Investment for Small Businesses
OsmondMarketingBlog