HR Specialist

Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

10 Steps to More Effective Time Management

In Human Resources on September 30, 2009 at 12:36 pm

The workaholic view of time management enables the addition of new clients, catching up on your to-do list; finishing back reading and learning about new developments in your industry. Properly viewed, however, time management lets you work productively so you can spend more time with your family and other things you enjoy. Here are 10 steps to help you do so:

1. Tackle your most important task first.

Most people try to build up to their most difficult assignment by clearing away the little things first. The most successful people do the opposite. They launch right into their most difficult job, and sometimes don’t do the little things at all.

Mark Twain, who believed in this philosophy, wrote, “If you begin each day by eating a live frog, you can be satisfied that’s the worst thing that will happen to you all day long.”

2. Set up your office space and supplies in an efficient manner.

You should be able to access everything without getting up from your desk. Your file cabinet should be within swivel reach of your chair, and you should have a three-tier inbox to prioritize your tasks.

3. Plan your day ahead of time, and use your own system to write down all your tasks.

It is estimated that spending 10 percent of your time planning saves 90 percent of the time in execution. Write down your tasks, using a system you find convenient, to free your mind for more important thoughts.

4. Once you start a task, keep working at it until completion.

Starting a job and coming back to it later wastes a tremendous amount of time in reacquainting yourself with the project, determining where you left off and remembering your thoughts.

If a task is too large to be completed in one day, break it down into pieces and follow the same method for each one.

5. Save time from software and hardware failure with thorough backup.

Do a complete virus scan, defragment your files and back them up every single day. Get the best virus scanning software, Norton 360, because the program is updated with the latest viruses every time you run it. Do an offsite backup at least once a month on a portable, external hard drive.

6. Buy a laptop if you have trouble getting away for vacations.

A change of scenery refreshes the mind and allows more efficient work when you return, rested and ready to go. A laptop helps sole entrepreneurs and other business owners get away when they are unable to afford a vacation. This method can be supplemented by forwarding phone calls from your main line to your cell phone.

7. Use the ABCDE method to categorize your work.

A = major consequence if it is not completed; B = minor consequences if it is not completed; C = no consequences but it would be nice to get done; D = something you can delegate; E = eliminate.

Do the A items first (see item #1). Checking and responding to your email is a B item (see item #8).

8. Use your communications devices, don’t let them use you.

Prevent unwanted interruptions by turning off your phone and email when working on a major projects (see items #1, 4).

9. Batch your smaller tasks together.

Do similar, smaller tasks at the same time. For example, make all your phone calls between 10 and 11 AM. Clear up all your email correspondence twice a day.

10. Listen to audio CDs when driving in your car.

The time you spend driving around is generally wasted. By listening to audio CDs, you benefit from hours of instruction that could prove critical to your business success.

 

http://www.hrresource.com/articles/view.php?article_id=1666&page_number=1

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Outsource HR and Let the Experts Handle the Details

In Human Resources on September 28, 2009 at 9:12 am

Outsourcing human resources functions saves valuable time and money and ensures that the job is done right. HR outsourcing companies are the experts and your business may benefit from their specific knowledge.

 

HR outsourcing companies are experts in dealing with people. Using feedback from your company, outsourcing firms establish rules for compensation, bonuses, disciplinary actions, and other work-related processes. HR firms are in constant contact with compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists, occupational analysts, employee benefits managers, and specialists for strategic planning and program launch. This holistic approach to HR function means well-rounded decisions that benefit both employees and management.

 

Common human resources tasks you can delegate to an objective third party include responsibility for providing processes and procedures for dealing with employees on a day-to-day basis, including recruiting top talent to take on key positions, training new hires and providing veterans with continuing education, and arbitrating disputes between employees.

Plus, HR outsourcing companies are beginning to specialize within industries. For example, some HR outsourcing companies specialize in health care. They know the federal regulations governing such industry-specific topics as coding and billing. Other companies are experts in legal, construction, or engineering. And while these specialists might cost more, their industry knowledge more often than not makes up for the fees they charge. In the face of sweeping federal and state changes with respect to accountability and compliance, small, medium, and large companies can ill afford a violation that could have been prevented with some professional guidance.

The following are the top tasks outsourced by small businesses:

  • Payroll processes: Tax-sheltered annuities, garnishments, bonuses, salary structuring, and pay-day periods
  • Benefits management: Health, short- and long-term disability, dental and vision, and life insurance options
  • Employee data collection and management: New hires, relocations, and promotions and demotions
  • Information systems processes: Database management, intranet and Internet, connectivity, queries and caches, networked printing
  • Contact center functions: End-user support, remote desktop management and repair, training and education

When choosing an HR outsourcing firm, one of the primary benchmarks should be experience and track record. The HR industry is constantly changing with procedures and regulations that require near constant study. Top outsourcing agencies are in tune with changes in the field and how they apply to the business operations of their clients. They’re often able to make meaningful suggestions on how to handle a variety of situations that invariably arise.

Other factors to consider are connection with industry associations. Association certifications are a good indicator of the flexibility and preparedness of the potential company. Also, inviting an HR consultant into the organization is a shrewd business move. The consultant can make pertinent recommendations on the type of outsourcing company that would be a good fit for the client.

Outsourcing HR has shown itself to be a slow-moving trend that has caught on only in the past decade. Companies that were hesitant to add another monthly bill to operating expenses are finding the removal of such a stressful operation to be worth the expense. While HR outsourcing has remained relatively flat since 2005, it is expected to increase.

By Kelly Richardson

http://www.allbusiness.com/labor-employment/human-resources-personnel/11789438-1.html

Tips on how to make ends meet

In Pre/Post Employment Services on September 23, 2009 at 12:52 pm
Throughout the economic downturn, many companies were forced to lay off workers, implement furloughs, decrease benefits and cut salaries in order to stay afloat. Although recent reports indicate the recession is over and recovery is on the horizon, workers may still feel a pinch in their paychecks for a while.

If you’re counting the seconds until your paycheck hits your bank account, you aren’t alone. Today’s economic situation has household budgets everywhere tightening, as 61 percent of workers report they always or usually live paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet, according to a new CareerBuilder survey of more than 4,400 workers. This is up from 49 percent last year and 43 percent in 2007.

It’s not just people earning average salaries who are feeling the need to pinch pennies: 30 percent of workers with salaries of $100,000 or more report that they too live paycheck to paycheck, up from 21 percent in 2008.

Making ends meet
Undoubtedly, workers are getting creative in the ways they’re making ends meet in this economy. Some are creating a budget for the first time ever, others are taking on second jobs, and a few are scaling back on the non-necessities. Many workers even have to dip into their personal and retirement savings to pay the bills.

Depending on your age, experts suggest putting aside anywhere from 10 to 35 percent of your earnings for retirement. This is easier said than done in any economy but it’s even more difficult today. To get by financially, 21 percent of workers say they have reduced their 401(k) contributions or personal savings in the last six months. Twenty-three percent of workers who earn six figures or more report that they have also reduced their 401(k) or savings.

While some workers are reluctantly tapping into savings, others don’t even have this option. Thirty-six percent of workers say they do not participate in any programs such as 401(k), IRAs or retirement plans, up from 31 percent in 2008. In addition, one-third of workers (33 percent) report that they don’t put any money aside into their savings each month, up from 25 percent in 2008. Thirty percent set aside $100 or less per month for savings and 16 percent save less than $50.

Tips to prepare for the future
Here are six tips to stretch your paycheck and ride out the economic downturn while also preparing for the future:

1. Keep track of spending
Create a spreadsheet to analyze what you spend each month, including the money spent on those inevitable invisible expenses, such as a morning coffee, cab ride or afternoon snack. Once you can see where your money goes, you can clearly see where you can cut back. Do you really need to buy a bagel every morning for $1.99? Or, could you buy a package from the grocery store for $3.99?

2. Boost your income
Think of ways you might be able to earn a little extra cash. In an April 2009 CareerBuilder survey, one-in-ten workers reported taking on a second job in this economy to help make ends meet. If this is something you can handle on top of your current job, look into pursuing some viable options. Check out sites like www.sologig.com for contract and freelance opportunities, or search for jobs using terms like “part-time” and “temporary.”

3. Speak up
Find out what benefits and employee programs your company offers that could help you save money and take advantage of them. For example, you could cut costs by taking advantage of flexible spending options, wellness benefits, retail discounts or transit reimbursement.

4. Use direct deposit
When you have your paycheck deposited directly into your bank account, you resist the temptation of just cashing it or getting cash back. Talk to your HR department to see how you can set this up for your next paycheck.

5. Pay yourself first
Set aside a certain amount of money every week, or from every paycheck, in a separate savings account. Try to set up an account where you can’t transfer money into your checking account online. Don’t touch it. Even if it’s only $10 a week, over time, you’ll see it add up from your regular contributions and earned interest.

6. Skip the ATM
If you have cash on you, you’ll spend it. Minimize your trips to the ATM by giving yourself a weekly cash allowance and using only that for the week. This might mean cutting back on daily lattes and lunches out, but you won’t miss it over time.

http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Article/MSN-2061-Salaries-and-Promotions-Majority-of-Workers-Live-Paycheck-to-Paycheck/?sc_extcmp=JS_2061_home1&SiteId=cbmsnhp42061&ArticleID=2061&gt1=23000&cbRecursionCnt=1&cbsid=e407332a926647b4bcf91a2542199194-307036262-wv-6

Integration of the New Employees

In Human Resources on September 21, 2009 at 9:16 am

How many of us have started a new professional activity without knowing where our office is, with what tools we will work or not knowing our future? This happens because most employers do not give sufficient importance of the integration process of new employees.

On the other hand, many employees will not work at a company for long time and it is hard for the employers to know and talk with all.

From the new employees point of view integration process has two major components: the professional one and the social one.

In the professional component, the new employee must learn the job duties, responsibilities, processes, rules and policy of the company.

The social integration process of new employees is one that takes a longer time and involves, primarily, new incoming data familiarization with the working environment, but also with his colleagues.

This process helps to facilitate new employee integration, strengthening the feeling that is part of the company. Each of us, when we first met with a person, we make an impression that could be decisive. This impression is powerful and could have a great impact on the subsequent of the employee. This impression could make him loyal to the company or could make him look for another job in the near future. The first step that an employer could make is to decide is what person will go through an integration process.

Another important aspect in the process of integration is one of duration and can not be done in a short time.

http://www.hrresource.com/articles/view.php?article_id=1638&page_number=1

Protecting Your Company from Harassment Claims

In Human Resources on September 17, 2009 at 2:59 pm

When employers consider workplace harassment (and that is often not under the best of circumstances), many think of sexual harassment only. In fact, hostile environment claims can arise from any status protected under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Federal civil rights laws prohibit harassment to employees based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, and disability. In addition, Oregon law includes gender identity and sexual orientation, among other protected factors.

While Quid pro Quo sexual harassment is often the headline maker, the majority of claims cite offensive behavior that potentially creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Whether it is:

  • Pervasive sexual or gender-based activity or comments; or
  • Conduct that denigrates or shows hostility toward an individual because of the person’s protected class;

“While most claims do not rise to the level of illegal harassment, costs are still high. The standard cost … in Central Oregon is $10,000;”

To be illegal harassment, the conduct must:

  • Interfere with a person’s work performance;
  • Create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment; or
  • Otherwise adversely affect employment opportunities.

While most claims do not rise to the level of illegal harassment, costs are still high. The standard cost of an attorney’s harassment investigation in Central Oregon is $10,000; not to mention the decreased moral and productivity that can easily result. The goal, of course, is to stop offensive behavior before it rises to a violation of law.

The first preventive step is a comprehensive Harassment-Free Workplace policy in the employee handbook. The policy should specifically prohibit all forms of harassment and include the following elements:

  • Definitions of harassment and prohibited conduct;
  • A multiple-avenue complaint and resolution process;
  • A “no retaliation” statement.

As always implement the policy consistently, take all complaints seriously, and investigate every complaint quickly, thoroughly, and impartially.

What else to do to best protect your company from discrimination and harassment claims?

  • Provide annual or bi-annual harassment training for all employees;
  • Scrutinize all employment discussions for potential retaliation; and
  • Accurately and thoroughly document all employment decisions.

As most complaints are the direct results of the decisions and actions of managers who don’t understand the laws, it is vitally important to provide basic employment law and leadership skills training for all supervisors.

Want a Superior Workforce? Hire the Best Employees

In Human Resources on September 17, 2009 at 10:53 am

Six Disciplines contracted with market research firm, Research for Action, to survey 314 businesses that employ 10-100 people to determine the factors that were most important in their success, late last year. They found five factors that stood out as most significant. In fact, they found that “high performing organizations scored at least 100% better on these five factors than their competitors.” These were the top five success factors:

  • The strength of the senior leadership team.
  • The organization’s ability to attract and retain quality people.
  • The organization’s ability to adopt a disciplined approach to the business including working “on” the business to create plans and align the employees to execute the business plans.
  • High performing companies made strategic use of technology.
  • High performing companies developed relationships with trusted outside providers such as attorneys, finance and accounting professionals, and insurance professionals.

You can read the complete research findings in this white paper, Five Secrets of High Performing Organizations. Thanks to Anita Campbell at Small Business Trends for pointing me to this research. Six Disciplines contracted with market research firm, Research for Action, to survey 314 businesses that employ 10-100 people to determine the factors that were most important in their success, late last year. They found five factors that stood out as most significant. In fact, they found that “high performing organizations scored at least 100% better on these five factors than their competitors.” These were the top five success factors:

  • The strength of the senior leadership team.
  • The organization’s ability to attract and retain quality people.
  • The organization’s ability to adopt a disciplined approach to the business including working “on” the business to create plans and align the employees to execute the business plans.
  • High performing companies made strategic use of technology.
  • High performing companies developed relationships with trusted outside providers such as attorneys, finance and accounting professionals, and insurance professionals.

You can read the complete research findings in this white paper, Five Secrets of High Performing Organizations. Thanks to Anita Campbell at Small Business Trends for pointing me to this research.

 

By Susan M. Heathfield, About.com Guide to Human Resources since 2000

http://humanresources.about.com/b/2007/07/12/want-a-superior-workforce-hire-the-best-employees.htm

The 7 Bases to Cover When Hiring New People

In Human Resources on September 17, 2009 at 10:47 am

On our ‘Tips for Hiring’ website we ask subscribers “What is the most burning question you have When Hiring New Employees?”

1. Do they have the technical knowledge to perform this job?

In other words, what have they learnt to ensure they CAN do the job?
This can usually be explained by specific requirements like trade certificates, degrees, special licences etc. Look for evidence that the knowledge claimed or gained has a verifiable source.

2. Have they applied this knowledge to the “real” world and developed a skills base?

It’s all very well having new found knowledge, but unless they have put this into practice on a regular basis they will lack the practical experience to skilfully perform the specific job tasks.

3. How long have they been developing their skills? What is their experience?
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It goes without saying that the more time a person does something the better they will get at it. Michael Gladwell, social psychologist, in his book “Outliers” states it take 10 years for a person to become an expert at a particular task or subject. You need to determine the level of skill you require.

4. Do they have the right personality/attitudes for this role?

This refers to the individual’s innate abilities. If this person does not have the personality attributes to match the job, no amount of training/coaching will make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – in other words, if this is a sales role and the candidate has no resiliency, optimism, assertiveness, ego drive etc, they will never be good sales performers, or indeed, want to be!   

5. Are they motivated? Will this job offer enough internal motivation for continued good performance?

What lights them up? This is closely aligned to 4. If the job allows them to use and exhibit their natural innate abilities they will enjoy the job more and perform better. So it important to understand these and do these align to your job role?

6. What is their level of mental ability? Does it match this role?

This is about basic intelligence, in other words, are they good problem solvers? If you show them something new, do the pick it up quickly or stand there looking at you like a deer in the headlights? What is their learning style – are they good at learning by themselves (say, from a manual, personal discovery), or are they more in-tune with “show and tell” learning?

7. What are their values? Do these values match that of the organisation?

Values drive attitudes and attitudes are reflected in one’s behaviour.
Usually measures of attitude are more integrity based – will they show up for work on time, are they honest, will they be volcanic, what’s their attitude to drugs and alcohol etc? All of these can be measured and important to understand in any job applicant.

 

http://www.articlesbase.com/human-resources-articles/the-7-bases-to-cover-when-hiring-new-people-1218751.html

Job Search Tip: Prep Your References for a Reference Check

In Pre/Post Employment Services on September 2, 2009 at 10:31 am

Prepping your references can make all the difference in whether you get the job you want or not. A positive reference check is a priority in the hiring decisions of many employers. Make sure your references are prepared to respond favorably when the potential employer calls for a reference check.

In a client company, we have eliminated the competition and settled upon two candidates for the job. Both are superficially well-qualified. However, reference checks and background checks are critical.

The primary candidate had the field to herself until it took me three weeks to check her references. The second candidate came to our attention during this reference check time.

What did the primary candidate do wrong? She included no reference phone numbers on her application nor on her resume. Her listed references were coworkers, not bosses, so we had to dig for the numbers of her former supervisors. Indeed, we had to dig for the numbers of her listed references. Several references never returned calls over two weeks.

I finally had to loop the candidate in to get her help to contact the references. She should have been on this before I started calling to check the references. Her references should have known that I would call.

They should have been informed about how important their participation was in whether the candidate was offered the job. The reference checks and their preparation should have been a priority for the candidate.

Instead, she let another candidate get her foot in the door and she may lose her stated dream job. I can’t predict how this selection will end, but, the primary candidate truly blew it.

Prep your references. Make sure they know the potential employer will be calling. These are the types of questions the potential employer will ask.

Make sure your references are ready to answer these questions – in a timely, optimistic, positive, honest, open manner. Tell your references to please chat up your strengths. They can make all the difference in whether you get your dream job.

 

By Susan M. Heathfield, About.com

http://humanresources.about.com/od/careerdevelopment/qt/jobs_tips_j1.htm