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The Do’s and Don’ts of Firing an Employee

Adapted from:  Sophie Deering, Senior Account Executive at Link Humans

No matter what the circumstances are, letting an employee go is never going to be an easy decision to come to or task to undertake and unfortunately as an employer, it’s something you will most probably have to face at one time or another.

To make sure things go smoothly, here are a few suggested do’s and don’ts of firing someone.

  1. DO consider your decision fully beforehand

Make sure that you are 100% certain about your decision and that your reasons behind it are completely justified before moving forward with the dismissal.  As soon as you have come to your final decision, act quickly, so that you don’t allow it to drag on and negatively affect any other employees or the running of business.

  1. DON’T fire someone without warning

There’s nothing worse than just springing it upon someone out of the blue! If the employee is being let go on the basis of poor performance, make sure that you hold a meeting before taking action, to let them know about your concerns and allow them the chance to turn things around. If the employee’s performance hasn’t been up to scratch, then you should consider issuing a series of warnings before the employee can be dismissed.

  1. DO let them know in person

Realise that you are dealing with a human being with emotions and rights. By no means should you break the news on the phone or via email. It’s important that you arrange a face-to-face meeting in order to show them respect and respond to their reaction appropriately.

  1. DON’T get someone else to do the dirty work

It is unprofessional.   The news should come from someone who knows the individual and is qualified to properly explain the reasons for their termination.

  1. DO give them a full explanation

You can’t dismiss an employee without having a justified reason, so you must be prepared to explain exactly why you are letting them go. Prepare what you are going to say ahead of the meeting, so that you provide them with all the information they need to know, as well as the appropriate paperwork.   You must also inform the employee of any rights or entitlements that they may have.

  1. DON’T do it in front of an audience

Don’t let the person know in a public place, or in front of any other colleagues, as they have a right to privacy and should have the opportunity to process the news before others find out. Arrange a meeting that is in a neutral and private location, free from disruptions, such as a meeting or conference room.

  1. DO allow the employee to ask questions

it’s important that you allow them to ask any questions they may have about why they are being dismissed and what happens next. Emotions are likely to be running high and different people will react in different ways, so give them the opportunity to voice their thoughts. Provide them with honest answers, however avoid getting into a debate about the situation or allowing the conversation to get heated.

  1. DON’T get personal

The reason for firing the employee should be entirely related to their performance or the needs of the business. It is important that you keep your emotions in check and explain the decision without sharing any of your personal thoughts about them as an individual or involving any grievances you may have.

  1. DO show the individual respect

Show the individual respect and demonstrate discretion. It’s likely that they may become upset or angry, but try not to get defensive or enter an argument with them. Instead, put yourself in their shoes and allow them to react to the news in the way they feel fit (within reason). The best approach to take is to be kind and sympathetic towards them, while expressing your regret that the employment didn’t work out.

  1. DON’T end on a low note

There’s no need to burn any bridges if possible, so try to end your conversation on a positive note. Thank the employee for their contributions during their time at the company and wish them luck in the future.

 

The end of the interview has arrived and here comes the closing “Do you have any questions?” line.

Many candidates are unprepared for this part of the interview. It’s a common question and one that you should consider as part of your interview preparation. Have a list of at least 6 questions which you’ve prepared in advance of the interview. Because some will be answered during the course of the interview, have more than you think you need as back-up.

Write them down. There is nothing wrong with making notes in advance and using them during your interview. It’s not cheating – it shows an employer that you have taken the time to prepare and have given serious thought to the role and organisation.

Try not to go with run-of-the-mill questions like:

  • When do you want someone to start?
  • Why is this position available?
  • When will I hear from you?

None of these standard questions show any kind of research or preparation or demonstrate genuine interest in the role.  Don’t ask questions that make you sound as though you’re only interested in yourself, such as:

  • Do you close over Christmas/New Year and will I be paid?
  • What’s your policy if I use up my sick leave entitlements because my kids are sick?
  • Do I have to attend networking functions outside normal business hours?

And never use the dreadful “You’ve already answered my questions”. Show some initiative!

Try to come up with questions that provoke thought and demonstrate your keen interest in the role. These will help trigger your thinking:

  • If I was successful how do you see me contributing to the corporate goals you’ve mentioned?
  • How do you see the first 3 months in this role?
  • How will you measure my success?
  • What do you like about working here?

Be careful asking questions about promotion. For instance, if you were to ask if there are possibilities for advancement, you would need to be careful not to give the employer a feeling that you wouldn’t stay in the role. So instead of asking “What are the chances of promotion and how long would it take?”, try something like “In 2 to 3 years, if I’ve met the objectives of this role, how do you see a path for advancement?”

Other questions you could ask include:

  • What are your company/department goals for the next 12 months? If I was successful how do you see me contributing to these goals?
  • Your values and culture are described on your website, but I am interested in how you would describe them.
  • How would you describe your management style?
  • Will there be an induction period? How do you see the first week in this role?
  • What kind of people do really well in your company?

Why are Your Employees Quitting?

By Christina Lattimer Human Resources (adapted)

 

There are plenty of reasons why employees quit their jobs – such as families relocating, needing to stay at home with their children or due to medical reasons.  However, a vast majority of the reasons why employees leave, are under the control of the employer.  That means the best way to keep your talent is to stay in tune with how they are feeling.

It’s important to ask your talent the following questions:

  • Are you enjoying your job?
  • Are you being challenged?
  • Do you work well with the team?
  • Are you feeling stressed?

Below are the 5 main reasons why your employees are quitting and what you can do about it!

  1. Lack of Recognition

Employees are much more likely to leave their employment if they feel their managers under-appreciate them.

What you can do: Your hard-working employees deserve praise and recognition so you need to give them some! Closely measure their performance, evaluate their productivity and try and make comparisons with other team members. This will enable you to identify your true top performers who you can then show genuine appreciation for. This can the form of company-wide recognition, a raise or a promotion which are simple ways to increase employee morale, engagement and retention.

  1. Managers who Lack People Skills

The relationship between employee and manager/supervisor plays an integral part in employee satisfaction. A prerequisite for being a truly great manager are strong interpersonal skills, meaning they need to be great communicators and listeners. Yet not all managers possess these traits. Leigh Branham, Owner and Founder of Keeping the People, says “Too many managers have never been well-coached themselves. Lacking a good role model, they either give no feedback and coaching at all or revert to the “YST” model — yelling, screaming, and threatening”. This can leave employees frustrated and unhappy.

What you can do: Managers need to ensure they spend a good portion of their time with their team. Top talent value consistent and constructive feedback so try to set up structured weekly 1-to-1 sessions, emphasis being on 1-to-1; make sure it is a two-way communication and you’re not just barking orders at employees! Talk about their current tasks, future projects and listen to any issues or concerns they may be having. The result of this will be employees feeling they are valued and cared for.

  1. Inadequate Compensation/Benefits

According to SHRM’s Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, compensation/pay and benefits were second and third most important contributors to employee job satisfaction. Hard-working and high-performing employees who feel they are not receiving a competitive salary or basic benefits will feel devalued and will be driven to find a better package elsewhere.

What you can do:  The first thing you need to do is research the market and identify what a competitive salary is and compare it to the one you offer. If there is a significant gap between the two, you need to reevaluate your packages.  As financier Sir James Goldsmith famously said, “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”

If a pre-recession salary isn’t possible, start looking at benefits you can start including. Training and development opportunities, medical aid, flexible hours, paternity/maternity leave and good vacation time can all be used to retain employees and foster loyalty.

  1. Overworked

One of the biggest gripes your employees may have is the excessive volume of work. It’s not rocket science but employees don’t like to be overwhelmed as it can lead to burnout. Yes, stress is one of the critical elements of achievement (without a certain amount of it, employees would never perform), but burnout can have a major impact on employees. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 40% of all workers today feel overworked, pressured, and squeezed to the point of anxiety, depression, and disease. It’s also counter-productive: John Pencavel of Stanford found that productivity drops sharply when employees work more than 50 hours a week.

What you can do: To prevent employees from burning out, employers should continuously check in with staff and make sure there’s an avenue for them to talk so there is a constant line of communication. Also, even simple things like hiring a part-time employee to minimise the workload and strictly sticking to the responsibilities defined in the interview can make a big difference.

  1. No Room For Innovation and Creativity

Religiously sticking to the status quo not only puts your business in jeopardy, it also irritates employees! Sticking to the idea of ‘how things are usually done around here’ can prevent employees from improving things which puts a low ceiling on their innovative ideas. The problem is that some managers want employees to work within a little ‘box’, fearing that if they go outside this box their productivity will drop. But top talent want the opportunity to showcase what they do best and leave their mark. So by caging this desire, employees feel useless and unwanted.

What you can do: It may sound obvious but if your business is focused on being innovative in what they do, they will need employees who are innovative. This represents a good opportunity for you to engage with employees and see what they can contribute to future endeavours. A really good tactic employers can use is setting up monthly creativity sessions where teams can bounce ideas off each other and come up with solid future plans that will help the organisation.

Focusing on Employee Strengths

Research from Gallup on employee strengths included a study that looked at 49,495 business units encompassing 1.2 million employees, across seven industries and 22 countries.   What the research found was that when a company focused on employee strengths – the following metrics increased:

  • 10%-19% increase in sales
  • 14%-29% increase in profit
  • 3%-7% increase in customer engagement
  • 9%-15% increase in engaged employees
  • 6- to 16-point decrease in turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 26- to 72-point decrease in turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 22%-59% decrease in safety incidents

From this study, we can deduce that:

  • Employee strengths have bottom-line implications

How does one focus on employee strengths?

Most often the problem resides in the fact that senior leaders typically don’t care about people issues. They are most likely concerned about revenue streams.  It is therefore critical for managers to identify the potential to increase revenue streams by concentrating on employee strengths.

What if managers kept charts like this?

chart

This may be another chart that the manager will need to track and monitor, but the benefits far outweigh the time spent doing this.  It’s alarming to consider that 68 percent of managers don’t care about their employees’ career progression and that only 34 percent of managers can name two strengths of their direct reports.  The chart above could be a simple start for many. I’d estimate it’d take about 10-12 minutes per employee to fill this out. Let’s say you have 10 direct reports and do this every two weeks, that’s 240 minutes a month (about 4 hours).

The psychology of the employee strengths problem

Our brain is wired to predict threats.  When you say “employee strengths,” you acknowledge that someone that reports into you has strengths. To many managers, that can be seen as a threat.  It requires a boss with a high degree of self awareness to focus on employee strengths.  Work needs to be about more than protecting your perch and getting the most for yourself. At some level, it needs to be about the employee strengths on your team.

 

(Adapted from article written by Rich DeMatteo on July 8, 2016)

There are many organisations who are using employee engagement to help increase their ROI and improve their bottom line. There are several strategies that can be implemented to improve engagement in the workplace — and a good deal of them now involve Gamification.

What is Gamification?

Many people confuse the term “gamification” with the act of playing a game.  This is not entirely accurate.  Although gamification employs gaming concepts, it is a tool that is used to drive engagement and enhance performance. The reason employee gamification works so well is because it is derived from learned behaviors and skills developed through childhood games.

The same underlying motivations, performance analysis and rewards make up the basis of today’s sophisticated gamification applications. For example, employees might be set up to win prizes for accomplishing specific goals or even compete with one another to secure the reward in question.  These methods have been found to be incredibly effective.

Gamification in the workplace essentially revolves around giving employees a better job experience and increasing retention and productivity.

Types of Employee Gamification

There are numerous ways to implement gamification in the workplace, and the ideal option will vary according to your specific business goals. For the sake of simplicity, we’ve organized the gamification types into three different categories:

  1. Progress Measurement

The ability to view your progress as you complete tasks and activities can be highly motivating. In gamification, progress may be measured through points, badges or even rewards.

  1. Social Motivation

Encouraging team collaboration and competition is another element of workplace gamification. This can be an exceptionally powerful way to increase workplace communication, productivity and even retention.

  1. Customized Gamification Apps

In some cases, businesses choose to implement entire processes that are built on gamification concepts. This type of immersive employee gamification is not the most common, but it can produce astounding results in the right setting.

The Benefits of Gamification

Employee gamification is currently being used in a variety of ways and produces a number of different benefits. A few of them include:

  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Improving productivity and retention
  • Boosting morale
  • Promoting team collaboration
  • Turning employees into brand ambassadors
  • Improving the learning process with enhanced training programs
  • Promoting desirable employee behavior

Gamification software is becoming more and more ingrained in the workplace and also becoming integrated into existing business tools. And organizations that use employee gamification are reaping the benefits of a highly engaged and productive workforce.

What NOT to do when quitting your job

What NOT to do when quitting your job.  (Adapted by article written by:  Lindsay Olson)

Even if you’ve fantasized about quitting in a dramatic fashion, you must know it’s not a good idea, right? As much as you’d like to tell your boss to stick it you-know-where, you’d be better off leaving your job with a sense of professionalism. So here’s what you absolutely SHOULD NOT do when quitting your job.

  1. Leave a mess.

Although you’d love to leave that stack of reports unfinished and make them someone else’s responsibility, realize how disrespectful it would be. And while it may be your boss that you hate, it might end up being your closest co-worker who gets saddled with your undone work.

Instead: When you put in your notice, do your best to finish your remaining work, and leave instructions for your replacement on what needs to be tied up.

  1. Burn bridges.

Resist unleashing your fury on your boss and co-workers. As much as you would love to believe you’ll never need any of them, you may cross paths again. And that person you let have it might be in a position to hire you at another company down the road.

Instead: Keep your frustrations to yourself, and leave on good terms. You should be able to get a reference when you leave, and your boss should be willing to refer you to another employer.

  1. Walk out.

Walking out the minute you quit makes you look juvenile, and that won’t help you get a recommendation for your next job.

Instead: It’s common courtesy to give two weeks’ to a months’ notice, so that he has time to find your replacement.

  1. Talk about the company.

Once you leave, don’t start talking negatively to others about the company. Remember that it was specific people you had an issue with, not the company as a whole. This is especially important in future job interviews. If you speak ill of your last company, this hiring manager will wonder if you’d do the same if you were unhappy in the position for which she’s hiring.

Instead: Find a politically correct way to explain why you left, and keep the emotions out of it.

  1. Start telling co-workers how you feel

If you’ve been harboring deep resentment about a co-worker, don’t use your quitting as the ideal time to tell her how you really feel. You’ll just hurt her feelings unnecessarily.

Instead: Go with the mantra: “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.”

  1. Take your vacation at the end of your two weeks.

If you’ve got vacation time racked up, don’t do that bit where you put in your two weeks, then put in a request for two weeks’ worth of vacation.

Instead: If you know you’re going to quit, take your vacation long before you put in your notice.

Tips / Advice

  • Before you quit, make sure it’s the right decision.
  • Many of us have to suffer through bad work situations or overbearing bosses, but most of these situations are tolerable, at least until you have a new job secured.
  • Never quit out of anger.
  • Make it a deliberate plan, and do it when you can calmly explain to your boss your reason for leaving.
  1. Take Them Away From the Work Environment

Attend a team-building exercise away from the office environment.  Keep the activity light hearted and fun.  Team building exercises allows staff and managers to get to know each other better outside of work projects and often creates excitement about working together on a new project. Plus, just not thinking about work responsibilities helps minds get recharged and ready to take on more.

  1. Do Not Skimp on Time Off

Push your employees to take the required time off, even when they don’t think they need a vacation.

  1. Hold 30-Day Challenges

These challenges can be “un-work” related.  For instance:  To encourage some exercise, start a 3km, 30-day running challenge. Every day each employee tries to run at least 3km, and possibly more. At the end of 30 days collect all of the data to see who ran the most, and do something fun for them.

  1. Declare a Three-Day weekend

Everyone loves three-day weekends!  They give you a chance to get away, watch TV, basically do whatever you want. After a period of intense work, schedule a break where you explicitly tell everyone not to work. This announcement is most effective on a Monday. Ask the team to push hard for four more days, then rest. The pace will pick up, then the recharge happens.

  1. Set Realistic Goals

There is nothing more frustrating than feeling like you are overworked. Try to make sure your team is never assigned more work than they can realistically do in a day. Also encourage everyone to openly communicate when they won’t be able to meet a work goal before it sets them behind on a project.

  1. Work Remotely

Breaking away from the mundane every day office environment is highly refreshing.  Allow employees to work from home or a coffee shop for half / full day.

  1. Hold Sporadic Adventures, Surprises and Fun Events

Some people dread the thought of going into work each day as it’s usually the same mundane schedule with minimal change ever happening. By introducing sporadic adventures, surprises and fun events at your workplace, your team will always be on the up and up and thinking about when the next one may occur. These type of activities can also be used for group building skills.

  1. Make Your Culture a 9-to-5 Culture

During most interviews, employees are told:  “this isn’t a 9-to-5” type of job.   But has hiring managers ever considered what the marginal productivity of the 10th hour of work is? For most people, not much. Yes, sometimes deadlines come up and people need to stay late, but it shouldn’t be the norm.  And when the extra working hours are required, be sure to acknowledge the commitment and reward accordingly.

  1. Get a Change of Scenery

A change of scenery is good for anyone. Do offsite meetings to regroup on important topics.

  1. Explain the Bigger Picture

Allow employees to become involved in future work.  By relaying the bigger picture allows employees to  gain an understanding of when projects will end/begin, which in turn recharges them.

In most cases candidates are ignorant as to what a recruiter’s job entails and how the recruitment industry works.  So often their communication to recruitment consultants comes across as irritating or sometimes just plain rude.

One consultant stated the following on LinkedIn – and these sentiments are felt by the majority of recruiters:

“I’m getting tired of candidates sending me their friend’s resumes; I’m also getting tired of receiving unsolicited resumes through LinkedIn and people who come to my web site. When I’m recruiting, a resume is only worth something if I have a search that aligns with the candidate it represents. I don’t really care whose looking for work when I’m recruiting; I care whose looking for talent. Seems harsh but it’s true. I care about helping people, but I need to make a living too.”
Here follows some tips to assist you in dealing professionally with a recruitment consultant:

  1. Don’t ask recruiters to meet with you out of the blue.

Ask yourself:  Why would a recruiter want to meet you? Are you a candidate for a role he or she has posted?  Do you have potential clients for them? What is your value proposition? If you would like to meet with a recruitment consultant, be prepared to offer something of value.

  1. Don’t send unsolicited CVs.

Unsolicited CVs get deleted.  There is absolutely NOTHING we can do for you as recruiters unless we have a suitable vacancy on our job board.  Loading your CV onto our database is probably the best we can do – but even so, your CV will simply just sit there.

  1. Research the Job Details before Contacting a Recruiter

By contacting a recruiter randomly about “some” job you saw on their website is wasting not only the recruiter’s time, but also yours.  Recruiters will often be working several job specs at the same time, so without the specific job title or specification details, they will be unable to link you to a vacancy.  And we are quite good at determining whether a caller is “fishing” for any job opportunity and not actually calling about a specific role.

  1. Calling your Recruiter

If you want to stay in touch with a recruiter, don’t call every 2 weeks to find out “If you have anything for me”.  Once interviewed, you would be on the active database and be contacted should the recruiter feel they have a suitable match between your skills and experience and a job spec.  If your CV or circumstances were to change – sending an email is a much better option.  The recruiter will then have a written record thereof and be able to update your profile in his / her own time.  Have a look on their website instead as to what vacancies are listed.

5.  After Interviewing with a Client

Don’t call the recruiter often to find out if the client has reported back regarding an interview you attended.  The recruiter wants to place the job and will feedback to you once she has received feedback from the client.  Be patient.

The term Millennial refers to employees between the ages of 15 and 35.  There are currently 92 million millennial workers worldwide, as opposed to 61 Million Generation X  employees and 77 Million Baby Boomers.  The Millennial work force has its own unique career preferences and ambitions.

Here are 5 ways one can shape your business to make it more Millennial-Friendly and in doing so attract and retain your Millennial Talent:

  1. Offer competitive salary and growth opportunities

Millennials need to know that they are being fairly remunerated and that there are growth opportunities within the organization.  It is therefore important to give your young employees a reason to stick around.

“In a study by PWC on millennials in the work place,  44 percent of millennials polled noted competitive wages as a motivating factor to go with an employer, 52 percent cited growth opportunities. So if you want to make your company attractive to millennials, foster their ambition and drive.”

  1. Maintain transparency

Millennials grew up with technology, which has created a culture of transparency. Millennials therefore expect the company they work for to be upfront.   Announcing decisions without any explanation might leave this generation feeling uneasy. Millennials are more engaged and committed when management shares why decisions are made.

  1. Ditch the hierarchy

If your company has a traditional hierarchy, try “flattening your organizational structure.”  By doing so, the Millennials will feel like they have a voice.  It’s important to highlight their accomplishments and let them know you value their insight, which will motivate them to go above and beyond for your business.

If millennials see people getting promoted over others based on longevity with the company over performance, it will almost certainly discourage them.  It’s important to help them better understand their overall career trajectory and to offer training.   According to Forbes, millennials don’t want to wait three to five years for a promotion, contrary to their baby boomer coworkers.

  1. Make sure millennials feel connected to the brand

Millennials are a great resource to strengthen your brand, but only if they believe in the overall message of the company. Having happy millennials in the workplace can lead to a boost in your company’s social media presence.Give your millennial employees a reason to share what your business is doing, and it can help you naturally boost your company’s social presence.

  1. Strengthen the company’s digital presence

The first thing your prospective millennial employees will do before an interview is Google the company. If your business is lacking in digital presence, millennials might be wary about applying. It could imply that the business is behind the times or unwilling to evolve. “Invest not only in how you engage clients and consumers online but prospective employees as well, so they have a strong understanding of your company’s mission and culture. According to Inc., 62-percent of millennials are more likely to become loyal to a company if they can engage with the brand on social media.

 

While meetings may be important opportunities for managers and staff to communicate, it seems that companies often don’t fully utilize them. A recent study found that around 40% of work time is spent in meetings, and around 25-50% of time is wasted, which means that, at worst, employees could be spending up to a day in ineffective meetings each week.

What they also found was a correlation between time spent in meetings and feelings of exhaustion and increased workload, which could be demotivational.  It’s not that we should throw out meetings, as the study found that 92 percent of employees value meetings as an opportunity for communication. Rather, it’s that meetings tend to be missed opportunities.

1. Make Them Shorter
Attendee attention levels begin to severely drop off after about 30 minutes, meaning people are getting bored. In the first 15 minutes employees are 91 percent attentive, and this drops to 64 percent attentiveness after 45 minutes. A simple way to reinvigorate your meetings is to keep them to 30 minutes maximum.

2. Chaired Agenda
Preparing and sticking to an agenda can seem quite constrictive for many a meeting leader, who may feel it cramps their style. However, studies found that most people find it frustrating when there is no chaired agenda. Make properly chaired agendas with action points/takeaways sacrosanct, and this will help boost meeting engagement levels.

3. Stand-Up Meetings
There are obvious health benefits to holding stand-up meetings instead of slumping in a chair for an hour, but standing up can also reinvigorate your meetings. Stand-up meetings are typically shorter — generally clocking in at about 15 minutes — so they operate within the prime 91 percent attention level. This keeps the meeting focused, and it can help to eradicate distractions.

4. Change the Location
Have you heard of the phenomenon known as Sick Building Syndrome, where people have sick symptoms related to a workplace, but no identifiable cause? These symptoms include aches and pains, fatigue, and poor concentration, none of which will be conducive to your meetings. Once the SBS sufferers leave the building or room, the symptoms disapear. Why not change your meeting location from time to time. Perhaps hold a meeting outside if it’s a sunny day, or at the canteen, a local coffee shop, or any place that’s a little different from the norm to beat SBS and reinvigorate a stale meeting environment.

5. Add Some Humor to Your Meetings
One of the best ways to liven up a dull meeting is to inject some genuine fun, levity, and humor. Try and set a fun, lighthearted tone at the beginning of the meeting, and encourage funny employees. Their jokes can help to reduce tension and add some levity to dire proceedings, making the whole meeting more fun. Those kind of employees can lift environments and meetings with a joke, and they are a gift to your meeting.

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