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7 Lessons for HR from Harvey to Irma

It may seem like a moot point but the devastation wrought by Hurricane #Harvey and #Irma taught us, or reminded us of, a few good lessons. Here are some gleaned from the damage.

1. Preparedness: Are you ready for bad Times?
Most businesses will experience a few downturns and sometimes a major test of its staying power. What is the state of your Emergency Planning & Preparedness?

2. Insurance: Innoculate the business for success
Ensure that critical activities such as succession planning are updated and current.

3. Negativity: Don’t blame existing employees already under the gun
It’s easy to add fire to an already combustible and difficult situation. Ensure everyone stays positive.

4. Trust: Get help from trusted sources
Go to those advisors, experts and organizations that have proven themselves capable of helping in the past or ask trusted colleagues for recommendations.

5. Focus: Focus on what matters
Don`t lose focus on what really matters such as recovering, rebuilding and rebooting your team, department or organization.

6. Motivation: Encourage the best in your team
With doubt about the future, you need to be a cheerleader, coach and mentor to motivate the best from your team members.

7. Planning: Fail to Plan means you should Plan to Fail
As with preparedness you need to have a plan that you can revert to so make sure you plan and maintain the plan on a regular basis as many things can change in a short period of time.

Lessons for #HR are everywhere. Sometimes we are simply too pre-occupied to see these warning signs.

E. Samadhin

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Ditching the Annual Performance Review

It is estimated that 2 million hours per year are spent on performance reviews at some fortune 500 companies. Performance reviews have been around for decades and were designed as a tool for managers and employees to review performance and justify their pay. Reviews have morphed constantly over the years in terms of structure, content and approach. Most annual employee performance reviews today do not yield the results companies want them to and occupy more time than they are worth. Instead, revolutionary organizations have designed new systems that focus on collecting data and taking action on it through better performance intelligence and improvement processes on a regular basis.

We all know from research on employee motivation that things like seeing the impact of their contribution, autonomy in their work, or being part of a work culture they love is what really matters. Given this trend, it’s no shocker that employers are moving away from historical practice. Some of the superior companies are accepting online tools to provide real-time feedback, which means employees can receive short, quick updates throughout the year. ASL’s Performance Management is the perfect solution to track employee success and productivity on a regular basis.

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The Drawbacks of Telecommuting

Working from home can have many benefits including saving money on gas, reducing overall traffic congestion on the road, reducing stress, and giving you the opportunity for more flexible hours. There are however some drawbacks that might not be so obvious.

One of the benefits of working in an actual office space include convenient social interactions which can help to reduce the risk of loneliness and in some cases can lead to developing friendships outside of the workplace. When working remotely, building these social connections requires a more dedicated effort as it is not so easy to simply pop by the desk of a co-worker or have a chat by the watercooler. Building team cohesion may require you to schedule time to work on getting to know other members of the team outside of an actual working meeting.

 

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Online Course Authoring

An employee with many skills is always an asset to any company. In my last post I talked about the benefit from the perspective of an employee to always be learning new things. As a company, teaching your employees new skills and keeping them up to date on the latest industry trends and standards can help you stay ahead of your competitors.

The internet offers near endless opportunities to keep up to date or learn new skills and techniques, however, your company may have very specific learning requirements. You could always organize an in house learning session or bring in an instructor to teach everyone at the same time but this is not always practical. A training session could require everyone from a department to pause what they are doing to attend. Creating your own course material and hosting in online allows for employees to learn at their own pace or in their own time. This is where a Learning Management System (LMS) can benefit an organization. A good LMS allows you to author content and deliver it in a variety of ways including the ability to track progress and quiz users for understanding. Content can be in the form of text, videos, downloadable manuals or audio recordings.

Having an LMS deliever content and track progress automatically can vastly improve your company’s ability to keep up and compete.

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Going Green

According to a recent medical study, simply being exposed to pictures of plants and nature is enough to improve your mood. The study concluded that having windows that open to green space is more likely to improve your feelings of well-being over a scene which simply looks onto a brick wall.

Not every office space can have windows and moving to an office with a nice view, while preferable to many employees, is likely not practical. You can still take advantage of the conclusions of the study, however, by adding more plants and foliage to the office or even simply by having pictures and murals of nature hung around the office.

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Never Stop Learning

If there is one thing that you can rely on it is that change is inevitable. Technology and industry expectations and standards are always changing and the best way to future proof yourself as an employee is to always be learning new skills and honing the skills you have with the most up to date information.

There are a variety of ways that you can keep your skills sharp. The internet provides endless opportunities to research topics related to your field, there are numerous sites dedicated solely to teaching you about nearly anything you want, and even YouTube offers hand-on video instructions to anything you can think of.

Check with your Human Resources department to see if they offer in house training or are organizing group sessions for related skills. Having an employee with new and up to date skills is an asset for any company so many of them will even offer to reimburse employees for a portion or even all training costs.

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Ontario Employment Standards Review

In recent blog posts I’ve been extolling the benefits of working less, providing wellness incentives, and paid sick leave banks in an effort to improve employee health which can lead to higher employee happiness and overall productivity. HR can and should be the driver of this inside your organization by crafting policy providing benefits and incentives to employees.

In a recent sneak peek of the Ontario government’s review of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, it seems that government doesn’t think that this is happening enough in private industry and is looking to craft into provincial law these very benefits.

According to some of the recommendations of the review, the Ontario government is thinking of making it mandatory for companies to provide some paid sick leave, a minimum of 3 weeks of paid vacation, and lowering the threshold for overtime pay to kick in. This may seem like it would put a higher burden on companies in terms of benefits they are required to pay, however, the hope is that ultimately the changes pay out in dividens to the company in terms of higher productivity from happier workers.

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Should HR promote wellness?

There have been numerous examples in the last few years of companies encouraging and rewarding employees for making healthy choices. Your company could negotiate group discounts with local fitness centres for reduced gym membership fees or provide gift cards and vouchers for healthier eating options. Why not help employees with the cost of smoking cessation programs and aids. Healthy employees are less likely to take time off and are more productive. Helping and incentivizing employees to be healthy can also improve employee happiness.

Are we working too much?

According to a recent study, when women work more than 34 hours per week and men work more than 47 hours a week, they were more likely to show signs of mental illness and symptoms of nervousness and depression. The reason for the gender gap seems to stem from the fact that women are also far more likely to spend time doing domestic chores and caretaking at home.
A case study of nurses that worked only 6 hours per day instead of the North American standard of 8 hours per day concluded that those employees working only 6 hours per day reported feeling happier and was less prone to taking time off for illness.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, working less may actually increase productivity and employee engagement.

An Argument for Sick Leave Banks

This year has been a particularly difficult flu season for many. The number of reported cases in the Toronto area is greater than it has been in the past few years. With that in mind, it is important to ensure that your company has a good sick leave strategy.
Many studies have shown that when a company does not offer a good policy for taking time off when an employee is sick, employees are more likely to come into the office when they are not feeling well for fear of losing out on pay. Sick employees spreading germs in the office ultimately leads to more employees being infected leading to a loss of productivity and costing the company more in the end.

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