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6 Simple Strategies to Motivate Your Employees


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In preparation for our Fall session of HR Boot Camp, we asked participants what their biggest HR challenge is. One of the things we hear often is what challenge it is to motivate employees to perform at a high level. Each individual employee may be motivated differently, creating a challenge for small business leaders already strapped for time and other resources. A recent article from Entrepreneur provides six strategies for motivating employees.

  1. Promote purpose. Companies that clearly communicate and demonstrate their purpose to employees have higher levels of employee engagement. This allows them to attract and retain the best possible employees. Unfortunately, according to research by Gallup, only 27% of employees say they can apply the company values to their individual job. There is a reason you chose to go into business. Share that with employees. Tell them what motivates you to come to work each day. Help them find purpose in their work.
  2. Actively listen and ask open ended questions. Engage in two-way communication with your employees. Ask them what motivates them and really listen to what they are saying. Find out what they are passionate about (inside or outside of work) and then ask questions about why that drives them. Use that information to help employees plan for their own career development to reach their goals.
  3. Catch a motivational wave. Take advantage of times when individuals are already motivated. Maybe it’s the beginning of the year, when people are setting New Year’s resolutions, or right after attending and industry conference or corporate event. Ride that motivational wave and keep the momentum going.
  4. Stop with the bribes. Rewards only work when they are handled strategically. Have a reason for rewarding and recognizing your employees. Doing it for no reason can lead to a lack of appreciation and a feeling of unfairness in the workplace.
  5. Lead by example. Make sure you are motivated as well. If your heart isn’t in it, others will notice., You must lead by example by pushing yourself to perform at a high level.
  6. Be vulnerable. Solicit positive and negative feedback from your employees. Share with them both your successes and your failures. This will increase the level of trust your team has in you as a leader.

These strategies may not all work for all employees, but they should give you some ideas of where you can improve the motivation of your team. Once you implement one or more of these ideas, we want to know how it goes. Drop by our Facebook page and let us know.

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A Plus Benefits6 Simple Strategies to Motivate Your Employees

Does Your Company’s Vacation Time Need to be Revamped?


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It’s hard to believe that summer is already winding down. Kids will be back in school soon and your employees will likely be scaling back their time off requests. Summer is typically the most popular times for employees to take family vacations, so it’s likely you had the opportunity to observe your time off policies and procedures in action over the past few months. Now can be a great time to review that and start making plans for what you might want to change for next year. Here are some simple steps you can take to begin that review process.

Analyze your compensation and benefits strategy
Most companies (91% in the US according to SHRM) offer some paid time off or vacation time to employees. That is pretty much a given at most organizations. But how you structure your vacation policy is an important piece of your overall benefits strategy. Decide what you hope to accomplish and what you hope to communicate to employees through your time off policy.

Keep long term viability in mind
It is important to find a balance of what your company can afford in terms of productivity loss and compensation for employees along with examining what competitor companies are doing to determine if you are more or less competitive from that standpoint. It is much easier to add additional benefits than it is to remove them from employees. Only commit to what you know is sustainable for your organization moving forward.

Plan the structure of your policy
Time off policies are often as unique as the companies they come from. You really do have a lot flexibility in your plan design. Here are some of the important questions to ask yourself:

  • How much paid time off will employees receive?
  • How many hours per week must an employee work to qualify for paid time off?
  • Will employee receive a lump sum, or will it accrue over time?
  • What will happen to accrued paid time off when an employee terminates? (check your state laws)
  • Will employees have a deadline to use paid time (use it or lose it)? (check your state laws)
  • Will hourly employees receive the same amount of vacation as salaried employees?
  • Do you need a bona fide leave bank for salaried exempt-level employees?

Plan and communicate your implementation strategy
Almost as important as your plan structure, it is important to plan for the actual implementation of that policy. Develop an employee vacation tracking and planning system to help you plan business needs and employee schedules. You will also want to determine how employee vacations during peak business times or during employee absences. Having a plan in place and clearly communicating that to employees prevents future issues.  Some questions to consider include:

  • How will employees submit requests for time off?
  • Will you do a first come first serve basis when employees request time off, or will seniority be considered?
  • Who will determine whether time off will be approved and how will this be communicated to employees?
  • Will you have deadline for vacation requests or blackout dates during busy business periods?
  • How will you divvy out employees’ duties during employees’ vacation periods?
  • Will you offer incentives for employees who work during peak vacation periods?

Once you have a plan, this needs to be communicated clearly to employees, so they understand the benefit and the process by which to use it.

Consider other types of leave
While you are considering your vacation policy, you may also want to take a look at other types of paid and unpaid leave. Other things to consider besides just a vacation policy include:

Setting up a vacation policy that will best fits your company culture will help ensure your employees are healthy, happy and feeling they are being fairly compensated. If you aren’t sure what types of leave are important to your employees, ask them. This can help you gain insight to how employees really feel about the policy and make them feel included in the process. If you would like assistance with creating a written time off or other type of policy, contact one of our HR experts at humanresources@aplusbenefits.com.

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A Plus BenefitsDoes Your Company’s Vacation Time Need to be Revamped?

5 Ways to Increase Employee Autonomy Today


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The workforce is changing and employees are now expecting more autonomy than ever before. Employees want to have more power over how (and often when and where) they perform their jobs. Research by Gallup has repeatedly found that employees highly value flexibility and autonomy in a job. If you are striving to attract and retain the best employees, you’ll need to move your company in that direction. Here are five ways you can increase employee autonomy in your organization beginning today.

Hire the right people.
Increasing employee autonomy requires a great level of trust. This must begin at the very start of the relationship. Ask questions during the job interview that help you begin to build that trust early on. Some examples are:

  • Tell me about a time you managed a project with little to no oversight or direction.
  • Have you ever been in a situation where your role or responsibilities haven’t been clearly defined? What did you do?
  • Can you give me an example of a time you went above and beyond the call of duty to help either a customer or co-worker?
  • Tell me about a time when you felt you needed to immediately address a difficult situation with your boss or supervisor when others wouldn’t.

Focus on quality training.
This begins on day one with a strategic onboarding process. Provide new employees with the information they need to begin making good decisions early on in their employment. Reward and celebrate early wins in this area and redirect employees who may be off track. We also encourage employers to set up a mentorship program for new employees. This allows current employee to model good behaviors for new employees.

Help employees to “Ask for forgiveness, not permission.”
Empower employees to make decisions rather than requiring management approval for every decision. This requires a certain level of transparency with employees as they will need to understand the goals of the organization as well as relationships with stakeholders. Set clear boundaries and then allow employees to solve problems their way. Role play difficult situations and encourage employees to practice quick, thoughtful decision making. As with anything, your employees will become better the more they practice.

Openly discuss career plans.
While we are on the topic of transparency, discussing development options with employees helps improve their autonomy as well. Leaders should have weekly one on one meetings with employees that help to push the employee forward. Ask employees what they hope to get out of their role and where they see themselves going in the future. Small businesses often feel disadvantaged in this area, where there are not many roles that an employee could move into. Career planning doesn’t have to mean switching roles or getting a promotion. There are plenty of ways employers can encourage development without those things. Perhaps they could improve existing skills or learn new skills through an online course. Or maybe they would be interested in joining a professional association and attending trainings and conferences with peers in their industry. Ask your employees to find out what is important to them.

Provide employees with more choices.
Whenever possible, increase the number of choices your employees are allowed to make. Perhaps you can improve their benefits options, allowing them more options to choose from. Maybe you could add flexible working schedules where employees could choose their start and end times. Anytime you can allow an employee to choose what is best for them, you will reap the rewards for employee autonomy.

Increasing employee autonomy not only increases employee engagement, but also frees up your managers for more important strategic planning and execution. It is a win-win situation for everyone. Demonstrating you trust your employees by giving them flexibility and choice also makes them trust your company and your leaders. Looking for more ideas? Reach out to our HR experts at humanresources@aplusbenefits.com

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A Plus Benefits5 Ways to Increase Employee Autonomy Today

Successful Onboarding Helps Retain Those Employees You Worked Hard to Recruit


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We all know how time consuming and exhausting it is to read through hundreds of resumes and interview candidates day after day. After all of that hard work, finding a new employee who fits the company culture and has great work experience is so rewarding. That feeling of euphoria though can turn to panic when you newly-hired employee turns in their resignation just a few weeks later.

Keeping employees is one of the biggest challenges we hear about from the small business leaders we work with. Improving your onboarding experience by helping the new employee get up to speed quickly and making transition a positive experience will help you retain more of your new employees.

Here are a few tips to help you get started immediately:

Improve your onboarding experience

  • Ask your current employees (especially those that started within the last year) how long it took for them to feel like they were a part of the team. This will give you an idea of how much your current onboarding system needs to be improved.
  • Have employees who will be working closely with the new hire contact them before they start, just to introduce themselves and welcome them to the team.
  • Connect with the new employee on LinkedIn and encourage their coworkers to do the same.
  • Make sure the new employee has a reviewed a copy of their job description so they know what will be expected of them.
  • If you have not already done so, introduce the employee to their direct supervisor and provide them with contact information such as phone and email.

Get the new employee up to speed quickly

  • Provide the employee with an idea of what they can expect on their first day. Where should they come when they arrive? Who should they ask for? What should they wear? Will they be provided a lunch?
  • If you have an employee newsletter or even some marketing materials that explain a little about your company, send those to new employee before their first day.
  • Help the employee understand some of the jargon associated with your industry you’re your company. New employees may not be familiar with the way your company communicates. Providing them with some of these common terms helps them understand and communicate better early on.
  • Make sure the employee has the tools they need to perform their job.

Extend the onboarding experience beyond the first day week or even month

  • Remember there is no set time for how long an employee is fully assimilated in their new position. It could take up to a year if the employee is new to the company and has a challenging position.  If an employee is taking on a new role, it may only take them six months.
  • Check in with your new employee frequently to make sure they are not overloaded with work. This will also help you give and receive feedback in real-time.

Research shows that being more intentional and structured during the on-boarding process can help stave off early turnover. A case study by Corning Glass Works, for example, found that  employees who attended a structured orientation program were 69 percent more likely to stay with the company for three years. That’s probably because good onboarding sets clear expectations for employees and equips them for success, which means they’re less likely to encounter surprises that cause stress and dissatisfaction in their work.

If you are looking for some additional resources improve your onboarding experience, check out our Onboarding Toolkit. Also register for our upcoming webinar, Why Are Your New Hires Leaving So Soon?: Improving Your Onboarding Experience.

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A Plus BenefitsSuccessful Onboarding Helps Retain Those Employees You Worked Hard to Recruit

Eight Simple First-aid Tips That Could Save an Employee’s Life


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Thousands of employees are killed or suffer serious injuries at work every year. Yet, a staggering 58 percent of employees are unfamiliar with their organization’s health and safety practices, according to a study conducted by international safety barrier manufacturer, A-SAFE.

Review these eight simple first-aid tips with your employees to ensure that your whole team is capable of providing aid to co-workers if necessary:

  1. Unresponsive and not breathing
  • Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths.
  • Call 911 as soon as possible.
  • Place the victim on his or her back on a flat surface. Make sure the person’s airway is clear.
  • Place the heel of one hand over the center of the chest, and your other hand on top of the first. Using your upper body weight, forcefully push straight down on the chest at a fast pace. Continue compressions until paramedics arrive (unless instructed differently by medical personnel over the phone).
  • If you are well-trained in CPR and feel confident in your abilities, you may alternate two rescue breaths for each set of 30 chest compressions (unless instructed otherwise by medical personnel over the phone).
  1. Unresponsive and breathing
  • Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths.
  • Move them onto their side and tilt their head back.
  • Call 911, as soon as possible.
  1. Choking
  • Stand behind the choking person and wrap your arms around his or her waist. Bend the person slightly forward.
  • Make a fist with one hand and place it slightly above the person’s navel.
  • Grasp your fist with the other hand and press hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust.
  • Repeat this procedure until the object is expelled from the airway.
  • If you must perform this maneuver on yourself, position your own fist slightly above your navel. Grasp your fist with your other hand and thrust upward into your abdomen until the object is expelled.
  • Call 911, if necessary.
  1. Heavy bleeding
  • Using a clean dry cloth, put pressure on the wound to stop or slow down the flow of blood.
  • Call 911, as soon as possible.
  • Keep pressure on the wound until help arrives.
  1. Burns
  • If the skin is not broken, run cool water over the burn for several minutes.
  • Cover the burn with a sterile bandage or clean cloth.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to relieve any swelling or pain.
  • Do not place any creams or ice on the burned area.
  • Seek emergency treatment for more serious burns immediately.
  1. Broken bone
  • Have the person support the injury with his or her hand, or use a cushion or items of clothing to prevent unnecessary movement.
  • Call 911, as soon as possible.
  • Continue supporting the injury until help arrives.
  1. Shock
  • Call 911, as soon as possible.
  • Have the victim lie down on his or her back and elevate the feet higher than the head. Keep the victim from moving unnecessarily.
  • Keep the victim warm and comfortable. Loosen tight clothing and cover him or her with a blanket.
  • Do not give the victim anything to drink.
  • If he or she is vomiting or bleeding from the mouth, place the victim on his or her side to prevent choking.
  • Treat any other injuries appropriately.
  • Begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if victim is not breathing.
  1. Nosebleed
  • Have the victim sit or stand upright to slow the flow of blood in the nose. Do NOT tip the head back.
  • Gently pinch the nose with your thumb and forefinger for 10 minutes, maintaining pressure. Have the victim breathe through the mouth during this time.
  • Seek medical care if bleeding lasts for more than 20 minutes or if the nosebleed resulted from a broken nose or head trauma.

Reminding employees about the importance of safety and looking out for one another should be a regular practice. Visit our Risk Management Toolbox website for more resources to make safety a priority at your organization. If you are interested in formal first aid training for your team, please contact our Safety Director Reed Balls at rballs@aplusbenefits.com. Keep each other safe.

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A Plus BenefitsEight Simple First-aid Tips That Could Save an Employee’s Life

Five Ways to Immediately Improve Your Interview Process


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Making a bad hiring decision is one of the biggest fears of many small business leaders. That fear is justified. The cost of just one bad hire is estimated to be two and a half times the cost of the employee’s annual salary. A bad hire can impact the morale and productivity of your other employees as well as your reputation with your customers. Improving your interviewing process is one of the best ways to make sure that you avoid bad hires and add only the very best employees to your team. Here are five simple things you can do to immediately improve your interviewing process:

Avoid common interview questions
Candidates these days usually have an idea of the typical questions they may be asked. A quick Google search of interview questions will probably pull up a list that looks something like what you are currently working from. This allows candidates to prepare answers in advance so have their best answers, or what they think you want to hear prepared. Instead:

  • Ask about different job-related scenarios such as:
    • Tell me about a time when you had to complete a project with very little direction. How did it go? What did you like? What didn’t you like?
    • Tell me about a time when you had to work on a project you were not passionate about. How did you handle it?
  • Ask questions that help you understand how they think such as:
    • If you could be a superhero, which would you be and why?
    • What is your favorite book and why?
    • What is your favorite place to take a vacation and why?
  • Ask about their previous jobs such as:
    • What did you like least about your most recent job?
    • Who was your favorite boss?
  • Ask about future plans such as:
    • What are your long-term goals? (5 or 10 years from now)
    • If you could take a class to learn something new, what would it be?

Don’t stay in the conference room.
An interview doesn’t have to take place only in your conference room or your office. Take the opportunity to get outside the typical interview environment.

  • Give the candidate on a tour of the office and see how they interact with employees. You can pay attention to the candidate’s interest in the company and see if they fit the company culture.
  • Take the candidate out for lunch or coffee and get to know them better. You can see how comfortable the employee is carrying on a conversation and see how they treat others, such as your server.

Get more than one opinion about the candidate
Invite other employees to sit in the interview, including some individuals who may be working with the new employee or those that have the same supervisor. Get the other employees’ feedback, since they may see or hear things you did not.

Give a candidate a small project to complete
Have the candidate complete a small project that relates to the job. This will give you a sense of what it would be like to work with the person since you cannot always tell when interviewing. Give only basic parameters and then let the candidate set the deadline for the project. This can help you see their work ethic and time management skills.

Some red flags to consider
Keep these things in mind as you interview potential job candidates. They can often be a good predictor of problems in the future if they occur in a job interview.

  • The candidate checks their phone often.
  • The candidate is late.
  • The candidate complains about previous employers or uses vulgar language.
  • The candidate comes with a list of things they are not willing to do.

Finding the best employees is possible. With a few small tweaks, you can take your interview process from good to great, instantly. For more assistance or ideas on hiring, contact the HR team at A Plus Benefits.  You can also catch our upcoming webinar, The Five Best Hiring Hacks for Finding Rockstar Employees.

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A Plus BenefitsFive Ways to Immediately Improve Your Interview Process

Providing Health Insurance to Employees is Good for Business


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Being a small business owner is not easy. Small business are severely disadvantaged when it comes to the time, money and resources needed to compete with large corporations. Finding the best places to spend and save money is crucial to success. We often come across business owners who believe they can’t afford to offer health insurance to their employees, or that the ROI for offering benefits just isn’t there. A recent article from the Harvard Business Review makes a great business case for offering benefits to employees.

Regardless of your opinion on this issue of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or your political stance, you can;t deny that right now there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to health insurance. Especially for individuals relying on Marketplace plans. If you are not currently offering a group health plan to your employees in favor of them obtaining their own coverage on the exchange, you likely have some anxious employees. The stability offered by an employer-sponsored health plan has a number of business benefits.

Health insurance is linked to lower stress
Research shows that employees who have health insurance are less likely to be stressed. This is easy to imagine given that the medical debt is the source of the majority of collection agency calls. Stress can be detrimental to your workforce. Employees who report high levels of stress are more likely to burn out and less likely to be high performers. Stressed employees negatively impact your bottom line, and anything you can do to alleviate that stress will improve it.

Health insurance improves long-term decision making
Employees who are struggling to make ends meet often have a difficult time making log-term decisions. Often these individuals are so focused on getting through the next week or the next pay period, that they lack the attention to long-term goals needed to be a high performer. Reducing an employee’s financial stress helps them be a better long-term decision maker and offering health insurance is way employers can do this.

Not having health insurance hinders cognitive ability
When financial stress weighs on a person’s mind, they are less likely to be able to pay attention to much else, including the work they do for your organization. If you are looking for innovative, bright employees, you need their focus and attention on their work. And is not just about the “what if” scenarios. Over 1/3 of employees have chronic ongoing medical issues that don’t just go away. The peace of mind provided to employees who know they will be able to go to the doctor or get the medication they need, allows them to perform at higher levels in your organization.

The uncertainty in the current healthcare market makes this the perfect time to consider whether offering health insurance may be what you need to take your company to the next level. Not only will you be able to attract and retain the best employees, but you will also get higher levels of performance out of your employees who are able to focus their attention on their work.

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A Plus BenefitsProviding Health Insurance to Employees is Good for Business

Getting Underperforming Employees Back on Track


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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

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A Plus BenefitsGetting Underperforming Employees Back on Track

Hang on to that New Employee You Worked So Hard to Recruit


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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.

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A Plus BenefitsHang on to that New Employee You Worked So Hard to Recruit

Four Steps to Avoid an Uber-like Company Culture Disaster


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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

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A Plus BenefitsFour Steps to Avoid an Uber-like Company Culture Disaster