Boost Business Results by Creating a Great Workplace

There’s no question that HR impacts the bottom line, largely through the practices it employs to effectively engage its staff and build a great place to work. In recent years, numerous studies have suggested that building great places to work can and does lead to organizational success, meaning that great places to work frequently outperform other organizations.  Simply providing unique perks, benefits, and a fun workplace, however, generally isn’t what creates a great place to work (although these certainly may be part of the package!). Research shows that great workplaces that best engage employees are those that see the most successful results. This emphasis on meaningful workplace practices surrounding employee engagement is what truly characterizes great workplaces nowadays. Consider the following:

  • Hewitt Associates (2010) found that when organizations had at least 65% of engaged employees, its total shareholder returns were nearly 20% higher than average total shareholder returns.
  • The McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy (2010) found that organizations that invested in their employees via supporting their health, providing training and advancement opportunities, offering incentives, engaging employees, and taking steps to ensure that their companies and the community profited, increased their profitability.
  • Towers Perrin (2007) found that organizations with the highest percentage of engaged workers saw a 19% increase in operating income and 28% increase in earnings per share. Organizations with the lowest percentage of engaged workers, however, experienced a 33% decline in operating income and 11% decline in earnings per share.
  • The Great Place to Work Institute (2010) reports that great workplaces (specifically Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for in America) experience lower turnover, reductions in health care costs, higher levels of customer satisfaction, higher productivity and profitability, and greater innovation and risk taking.
  • The Department of Labor found a link between progressive workplace practices and bottom line results, determining that there is a positive relationships between training, motivating, and empowering employees and improving productivity, employee satisfaction, and financial performance. In addition, the impact of progressive workplace practices tends to be more significant in the long term (Great Place to Work Institute, 2010).

While this is simply a snapshot of the many studies indicating a correlation or relationship between great places to work and business success, it’s obvious that great workplaces which focus specifically on engaging employees find themselves experiencing more business success than those that do not. In fact, recently Inc. 5000 released a list of the top companies in the Cleveland area which are growing at a rapid rate – several of which are past or present NorthCoast 99 winners. This is yet another testament to the strong relationship between great workplaces and organizational success, especially in our own region.

So what practices generate the most impact on engagement and create a great place to work? As discussed in our complimentary 2010 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report, the answer is very multifaceted – spanning engaging new-hires through recruiting and on-boarding, implementing effective compensation and rewards practices, developing and advancing employees, encouraging feedback and open communication, and promoting strong relationships with coworkers, supervisors, and leaders. In addition, there are many different ways of engaging employees and creating a great place to work and each organization approaches this in similar, but distinct and unique ways that are consistent with their culture.

If your HR department is looking for ways to boost business results, it’s important to make employee engagement and creating a great workplace part of the equation.

Additional Resources:

  • NorthCoast 99: For more information on the NorthCoast 99 program, including a list of our 2010 winners and other reports and information, please visit www.northcoast99.com.
  • HR Help Desk (Members Only): For additional information and guidance related to creating a great workplace, please contact hrhelp@ercnet.org.
  • HR Consulting: For assistance with a variety of talent management projects or employee engagement surveys, please contact consulting@ercnet.org.
  • Professional Development: To learn about methods of measuring HR and using a variety of HR metrics, join us for the following workshop: Measuring HR: Metrics for Successful Outcomes. Click here for more information or to register.
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A 4 Step Guide to 2011 Salary Budgeting

It’s time for 2011 salary budgeting and surveys say that increases are being planned by many organizations for the upcoming year. So how much should you plan to provide? Should you pay top performers more than the average increase? How do you sell your budget plan to finance? We’ve compiled a short 4-step guide for creating a salary budget for 2011 and to address these common questions from our members.

1. Plan to provide increases of at least 2.7%

Survey results suggest that your organization should consider providing increases of at least 2.7% next year, as the majority of reports are showing average projected adjustments between 2.7% and 3.0%.

According to surveys conducted by Mercer, Towers Watson, WorldatWork, Hay Group, and ERC, employers are projecting higher pay increases for 2011 compared to those increases provided in 2009 and 2010. We’d recommend using any of these credible sources as benchmark information help you devise your salary budgeting.

Source Projected Increase
ERC 2.8%
Mercer 2.9%
WorldatWork 2.9%
Hay Group 3.0%
Towers Watson 2.7%

Pay adjustments can and do vary depending on industry, size, region, and other variables including whether your organization plans to provide formal range adjustments or individual increases.  It’s important to look at all of these variables when setting your plans.

2. Differentiate increases based on performance

Many organizations differentiate increases based on level of performance (i.e. top performers, average performers, and bottom performers) versus providing a flat average increase to employees.

We typically see organizations differentiating increases by at least 1-2% for each performance level. Using 2.7% as a benchmark average rate, it may be common for top performers to earn increases close to or over 4%.

Mercer and Towers Perrin’s surveys indicate that employers plan to provide average pay increases of 4.3% to top performers, 2.6% to average performers, and less than 1% to bottom performers (Mercer & Towers Watson). WorldatWork’s survey showed slightly lower projections for performance levels with 3.7% for top performers, 2.4% for average performers, and less than 1% for bottom performers.

The merit matrix is a common way in which organizations set guidelines for merit pay adjustments or increases, particularly when they wish to differentiate increases based on performance to reward their top performers, with many organizations setting average increases for average performers.

3. Sell your budget plan to finance

Selling your budget plan to finance or accounting will be crucial, especially during a time when cutting expenses (versus adding them) is the preferred strategy. Payroll expenses make up a large percentage of the operating budget of your organization. When selling budget plans to finance, it’s important to speak their language which means presenting plenty of data and evidence to back up your plans.

  • Make sure that accurate, valid, and detailed data is compiled and used in your budgeting plan.  Salary budgeting surveys are helpful tools. Just be sure there is enough data to justify or support the budget you propose. Employee feedback can also be used as data to justify your budget. For example, if pay satisfaction is low or exit interview data suggests that individuals are leaving due to pay concerns, this data could support your plan.
  • Make sure that you’ve estimated increases accurately and that the added expenses are justified. Work to understand your finance or accounting department’s dilemma in continuing to look out for the organization’s profitability.
  • Aligning your budget plan with organizational goals or objectives also typically resonates with finance.  It’s likely that pay for performance plans or increases tied to the achievement of objectives will help reinforce these goals and objectives.
  • Compensation philosophies or policies can also be helpful in supporting your pay plans. For example, if your organization has a philosophy to pay at market, adjustments will likely need to be made based on this year’s data. Similarly, if your organization has a philosophy to pay above market, adjustments above the average will likely need to be made.

4. Continue to stay alert to market changes

Keep abreast of changes in the market during 2011. Even though organizations plan to provide a certain percentage increase, the market sometimes leads them to adjust this projection in the first or second quarter of the year. Plan to confirm your budgets at least once next year to make sure the market is showing what was projected.

Additional Resources:

  • Surveys – To benchmark projected wage and salary adjustments for 2011, please click here to download the 2010-2011 ERC’s Wage & Salary Adjustment Survey. Or, to benchmark market trends in pay for specific positions, consider using ERC’s various compensation surveys. Not a member of ERC? Visit www.ercnet.org/survey to learn more about accessing our 2010 compensation surveys for no cost.
  • HR Help Desk – For questions or guidance related to salary budgeting or to obtain additional data to support your organization’s budgeting plans, please contact hrhelp@ercnet.org.
  • Compensation or Performance Management Project Assistance – For project assistance related to compensation or performance management, please contact consulting@ercnet.org.

Sources:

  • Mercer (2010). U.S. Compensation Planning Survey
  • WorldatWork (2010). Annual Salary Budget Survey
  • Towers Watson (2010). Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey
  • Hay Group (2010).
  • ERC (2010). 2010-2011 ERC Wage & Salary Adjustment Survey
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3 Questions to Ask Your Top Performers

What would your top performers say about your workplace? What would they say about its strengths, its weaknesses, what makes them stay, and what makes them think about leaving? How would they describe the ways in which your organization has handled the challenges of the past year?  Perhaps the greatest test of our workplaces and organizations is the perceptions of our top people. So consider asking your top performers three important questions:

  • How did we respond (or how are we responding)?
  • What will make you stay?
  • What would cause you to leave?

This past year, ERC did just that. We asked top performers in Northeast Ohio what they perceived to be the main reasons that they continue to stay at their organizations, the aspects of their organizations that cause them to consider leaving, and their perceptions of how their organizations handled the economic challenges of the past year. The results yielded some important insights into what local top performers at NorthCoast 99 winning organizations have to say about their workplaces.

How did we respond?

Top performers at this year’s NorthCoast 99 winning organizations overwhelmingly felt that their organizations were proactive in addressing challenges of the past year, implemented creative cost reduction, constantly communicated with them about the state of the organizations, cut unnecessary expenditures to preserve jobs, maintained customer/client focus, continued to innovate and focus on growth, and focused on teamwork and collaboration. In addition, they felt that their organizations made difficult decisions with great sensitivity to employees, did all they could do to preserve and protect employees and their jobs, had strong and supportive leadership, remained positive about the future of their organizations, and continued to give their staff the resources they needed. All in all, top performers at winning organizations were impressed and comforted by their organization’s approach during challenging times.

What makes you stay?

In addition, top performers cited numerous reasons why they stay at their respective organizations with many of these reasons fall into a few buckets: the job itself, the people, and the workplace. In terms of the job itself, top performers report staying at their organizations mainly because they enjoy the work they do, are passionate about their jobs, are challenged, and constantly learning new things. Top performers also report staying at their organizations because of the people – their coworkers, managers, and leaders. They have strong, supportive, and understanding relationships with their coworkers and managers and feel that leaders have the best interest of their employees in mind as they make decisions impacting the organization and lead the organization successfully. Finally, top performers stay at their organizations because of the workplace and its many rewards including, but not limited to, work/life and flexibility, developmental and advancement opportunities, pay and benefits, and rewards.

What would cause you to leave?

While many top performers at winners cited no aspects of the organization which cause them to consider leaving, even our NorthCoast 99 winners constantly have the task of improving upon the aspects of their workplaces to better retain top talent.  Based on the data we collected, among the greatest opportunities for our winners and other organizations are providing top performers greater ability to deal with stress and workload issues, continuing to expand development and advancement opportunities, maintaining compensation competitiveness, and helping top performers deal with other unique demands or concerns relating to their job or the organization (autonomy, communication, job stability etc.). By far, however, the most common theme among top performers is stress and workload concerns, suggesting that many top people in our region feel overstretched.

Would your top performers respond similarly to those at our winning organizations? If you’re not sure, ask these questions, get the answers, and mobilize the rest of your efforts for the remainder of the year around the feedback of your top people. 

Congratulations to our 2010 NorthCoast 99 winners who have “passed the test” in the eyes of their top people.

Posted in Benefits & Leave, Communication, Compensation, General HR, Performance Management, Recruitment & Selection, Social Responsibility, Training & Development | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

5 Tips for More Engaged Employees

There’s been quite a bit of news recently about how top performers are disengaging and some have even begun leaving their organizations. A new study conducted by Right Management found that 54% of the 558 HR and business leaders surveyed lost top performers during the first half of 2010 (HR Executive, 2010). Using the recession as a retention tool appears to be a strategy that will no longer work for many organizations who aren’t proactively trying to retain their top people. Let’s explore how disengagement happens and what managers can do to resolve it.

Studies show that disengagement is gradual and typically precipitated by a shocking event or turning point which often leads up to an employee’s decision to quit. It also shows, however, that managers who initiate discussions and actions to engage and re-engage employees have a high likelihood of reversing disengagement and retaining their staff (Branham, 2010).

It’s time for managers to check up before their people check out. We’ve provided five tips to help you resolve disengagement issues in your organization:

  1. Train managers to notice the signs of disengagement. Such signs typically include increased absenteeism, tardiness, withdrawal, disinterest, and negativity. Performance may also suffer in some cases. Often, managers are simply too busy to observe the critical signs.
  2. Expect managers to take the initiative in initiating conversations to address signs of disengagement and resolve issues of concern. Simple open-ended questions (“how are you,” “how are things going,” or “how do you feel about that”) can generally open up the conversation. Hold them accountable for retaining their best (Branham, 2010).
  3. Emphasize to employees that they have the primary responsibility of addressing their concerns and re-engaging themselves into the workplace, and give them the tools and support to do that effectively. Such tools and support could include training, development opportunities, coaching, feedback, work/life flexibility, and more.
  4. Recognize the effects that typical shocking events or turning points may have on employees. Sixty-three (63%) percent of voluntary turnover is caused by a shocking event. Such events may include being passed over for a promotion or transfer, receiving a new boss, having a disagreement with a boss, witnessing a close colleague leave the organization, witnessing a restructuring/layoff, or enduring another significant organizational change. Also, it’s important to recognize that exit interviews typically do not uncover these events or points where disengagement begins (Branham, 2010). That’s why conversations prior to an employee’s exit are crucial.
  5. Get to know the reasons employees disengage. The most common reasons include: job or workplace did not meet employee’s expectations; mismatch between job and employee; not enough coaching and feedback; too few growth or advancement opportunities; not feeling valued, appreciated, or recognized for contributions; stress, workload, and work-life imbalance; loss of trust and confidence in leaders; perceived unfairness or favoritism; and perceived lack of support by leaders, managers or supervisors on a personal and professional level (Branham, 2007; Vajda, 2007). Conducting periodic audits or evaluations of how employees perceive these aspects of the organization can be helpful in getting a pulse of how engaged your workforce is. An engagement survey is usually the perfect tool to capture this information.

The reality is that most drivers of employee engagement lie in the power of an employee’s manager.  That’s why it’s important that we train our managers to understand how they can reverse disengagement in their work group and retain their staff.

Additional Resources

  • Employee Engagement Surveys – To gather feedback from your employees using ERC’s employee engagement survey service, please contact consulting@ercnet.org.
  • Employee Feedback Services – To gather feedback via focus groups, interviews, exit surveys or other methods, contact consulting@ercnet.org.
  • Managerial/Supervisory Training – Have your managers attend ERC’s Supervisory Series to learn about new ways of engaging and retaining their staff, or contact ckutsko@ercnet.org for on-site training in various supervisory, managerial, and leadership topics.
  • HR Help Desk – To obtain general guidance as well as sample policies and practices related to attracting and retaining top talent, please contact hrhelp@ercnet.org.

Sources

  • Branham, L. (2010). How employees disengage and quit.
  • Branham, L. (2007). The seven hidden reasons employees leave.
  • Vajda, P. (2007). The thrill is gone – when employees disengage.
  • HR Executive (2010). Top performers begin their flight.
Posted in Communication, General HR, Performance Management, Training & Development | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Foster Positive Employee Relations Using Communication Best Practices

Organizations are always striving to maintain positive employee relations.  This is especially true during such trying times as the current economic downturn— at such times, employers feel especially strong pressure to retain top talent in order to meet and exceed business demands.  However, organizations often face dwindling resources at such critical periods, meaning that they must be creative in terms of maintaining these positive relations.  One cheap and easy way in which positive relations can be preserved is through smart communication practices.

Communication, especially between employees and leadership, can have a major impact on employee relations.  When effective communication practices are in places, employees generally feel more connected and committed to the organization.  However, when communication breaks down, employee relation problems are more likely to occur.  Here are a few tips for improving or establishing organizational communication practices to preserve positive employee relations.

1. Conduct a communications audit.  A preventative measure that organizations can take is to conduct a communications audit.  A communications audit is a snapshot of an organization’s communication strategies, activities, and programs (Coffman, 2004).  This process can inform an organization as to which communication practices work and which may need to be improved.  A variety of methods can be utilized in a communications audit, such as workplace observation, interviews or surveys of employees or leadership, and focus groups.  Communication audits are especially important for determining where communication breakdowns may have led employees to be confused or misinformed on organizational rules, policies, and practices.  Once areas are identified for improvement, organizations can determine an action plan to repair or implement new communication processes.

2. Provide a well-designed outlet for employees to communicate suggestions and concerns to management.  To maintain positive relations, many organizations utilize a variety of systems for employees to communicate their suggestions and concerns to management.  When employees feel like they have a voice in the organization, they are generally more engaged, especially when they see their suggestions implemented.  This also benefits employers as employees, being in the trenches of the organization, often bring to light ideas for change and streamlining of organizational processes, which result in cost saving and increased productivity.

In ERC’s recent Employee Relations Survey, organizations reported using many types of suggestion systems, ranging from face-to-face and group meetings to management blogs and social media. What is best for each organization depends on the culture of that organization but no matter what, there are some best practices that are recommended for establishing an effective and well-received suggestion program (Heathfield, 2010).

  • Appoint a cross-functional suggestion review team. Many organizations designate specific suggestion review teams or taskforces from a cross-section of departments.  Each employee in this group can provide a unique perspective on each suggestion and its viability, and this team often has the power to recommend and implement suggestions.
  • Establish guidelines for the employee suggestion program. Good suggestion programs have guidelines as to what topics are open to suggestions.  Typically, acceptable suggestions include ideas on cost savings, productivity, process improvement, and morale improvement.  Suggestion programs that merely become outlets for complaints and venting do not lead to enhanced positive employee relations.
  • Communicate the process.  A suggestion box tucked into a corner does little good for employees or for the organization.  For a suggestion program to be successful, the employees have to know how to submit their suggestions and concerns.  Employees should understand who evaluates ideas, how decisions are made, and how rewards are allocated (if applicable).
  • Recognize and reward. A very effective way to foster positive employee relations is to provide rewards or recognition for employee suggestions.  The resuls of a recent ERC survey (2010), showed that 30% of organizations rewarded suggestions in some way.  A rewards program has the potential to positively affect employee relations so long as the process is made explicit and employees understand why or why not they are being rewarded.  Keep in mind that rewards do not need to be costly—praise can be its own reward. For instance, in lieu of cash awards, many organizations provide recognition in meetings or newsletters for great employee ideas and suggestions.
  • Provide feedback. Feedback on employees’ suggestions and ideas should be provided, perhaps privately if suggestions are not anonymous. We’ve seen situations where employees are less likely to provide suggestions if they fear that their idea could be publicly rejected.  In some programs employees can actually track the progress of their ideas from submission to implementation.  If feedback is not feasible, acknowledging and showing appreciation for suggestions, at the very least, is crucial.

3. Have leadership interact with employees at all levels of the organization. A personal connection between leaders and employees can go a long way in building and maintaining positive employee relations.  When employees have an opportunity to meet, talk with, and be empowered by organizational leaders, they feel more emotionally committed to the organization, engaged, and willing to work harder for the organization (Avolio, Zhu, Koh, & Bhatia, 2004).  A recent ERC survey (2010) found that most organizations (86%) provide opportunities for upper management to meet with lower-level employees, and organizations can utilize a few different strategies to do so such as:

  • Walking the floor. In some organizations, leaders and upper management use a “management by walking around” style.  These leaders will walk around the office or work area, stopping to greet and interact with employees.  These managers are often on a first-name basis with everyone in the organization.
  • Social outings. Social outings and organizational events are great ways for leadership to meet with employees and build relationships.  Many leaders take part in fun games and events, creating bonding experiences with employees. A somewhat common practice is leaders cooking out for employees or doing something special to serve them.
  • Employee forums and focus groups. Rather than wait for employees to communicate suggestions and concerns, leaders can proactively invite employees across the organization to attend forums and focus groups.  Employees appreciate and respond positively when they have an opportunity to communicate their ideas directly to leaders, and this can go a long way in building positive employee relations.
  • Personal recognition. When employees achieve great things or reach milestones, personal recognition from leadership is a very meaningful occurrence.  When upper management communicates recognition, either personally or through a public venue (such as a newsletter or intranet), employees feel empowered to continue to succeed in the workplace.

The importance and value of strong positive employee relations is something that should not be overlooked by organizations. Strengthening employee relations can have great benefits for a business and one clear way to improve relations is through effective and well-planned communication. Any organization, whether big or small, is capable of fostering a rich flow of ideas and information among its employees. All it takes is a little forethought, some solid planning, and a true desire to listen and to share.

Additional Resources

  • Employee Engagement Surveys – To have ERC conduct an employee engagement survey for your organization, please contact consulting@ercnet.org.
  • HR Help Desk – For guidance and best practices related to a variety of employee relations issues, please contact hrhelp@ercnet.org.
  • Surveys – To download ERC’s Employee Relations Survey, please click here.
  • Training – To help your supervisors better handle employee relations issues, consider sending them to ERC’s Supervisory Series I workshops that will give them the tools and insights to succeed in their managerial role.

Sources:

  • Aviolio, B. J., Zhu, W., Koh, W., & Bhatia, P. (2004). Transformational leadership and organizational commitment: mediating role of psychological empowerment and moderating role of structural distance. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25, 951-968.
  • ERC (2010). ERC Employee Relations Survey.
  • Coffman, J. (2004). Strategic communications audits.  Communications Cosortium Media Center.
  • Heathfield, S. M. (2010). Harness the power of an employee suggestion program: beyond the suggestion box.
Posted in Communication | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Changing Perceptions of Performance Management

All organizations have a face to their performance management system – what it is perceived to be by its many stakeholders.  These perceptions and attitudes about the system often influence behavior and motivation. For example, a negative perception of the system may lead a manager to not take the process seriously, fail to document performance, or not provide feedback to employees. A positive perception of the system, on the other hand, may lead a manager to utilize the system to help employees develop and achieve their performance objectives. It may engage employees. A few questions to consider…

  • What is the face of performance management at your organization? How is it perceived by managers, employees, and even HR? 
  • Is your process being viewed as positive, meaningful, and valuable or just simply an administrative and compliance activity that adds no real value?
  • What are the purposes of the performance management process?
  • What is your organization trying to achieve by appraising each employee’s performance?

Very often, we find disconnects between what organizations are attempting to achieve through their processes and what they actually are achieving. The perceptions of these stakeholders matter to make a performance management system effective and useful. We recommend starting the conversation, because what you may find is that the performance management system may not be working, and performance management is too important to fail.

We outlined below what we feel are the core purposes of any performance management process as well as some action steps that you as HR professionals can take to better achieve that objective:

Core Purpose HR Action Step
Achieve business objectives Link performance criteria and goals to overall business objectives.
Help employees understand what is expected of them Communicate performance expectations clearly to employees.
Equip employees with the skills and abilities they need to meet those expectations Identify employees’ skill development needs.
Provide support to help them development those skills and abilities Identify ways to help employees develop those skills and abilities (training, coaching, etc.).
Offer feedback on their performance Develop a feedback culture in which employees are constantly receiving performance and developmental feedback. Make feedback a regular occurrence – not a year-end activity. This is best done by holding supervisors accountable for developing their people and improving their performance.
Provide employees with the opportunity to discuss and contribute to goals Make goal-setting a mutual discussion and activity between employees and managers.
Link to other HR and business areas (hiring, training, career development, succession planning, etc.) Don’t make performance management a separate activity that isn’t linked to anything else in the business or HR department. Use the information gathered and process to enhance and integrate career development, training, succession planning, and even selection practices in the organization.
Document performance for compliance purposes Create quick methods for managers to accurately and easily document performance for compliance needs. Provide training on how to appropriately document performance behaviors.

Performance management at its best should be a positive experience focused on engaging employees through meaningful feedback and discussion.  In fact, Gallup (2008) has done extensive research on managerial performance discussions with subordinates and has found that when employees receive feedback on their progress, they are not only more engaged, but also more likely to perceive the performance management process to be fair and valuable. In turn, they also view their compensation as more fair, are more likely to stay with the organization, and even recommend it as a great place to work. ERC’s research also supports the importance of performance management in engaging employees.

So take a step back and look at your performance management system. Is it engaging employees? Is it engaging managers? If not, contact ERC and we can help re-charge this important process in your organization to one that is more valuable, meaningful, and engaging.

Additional Resources

  • Performance Management Project Support – For expert consulting support on your performance management project needs, please contact consulting@ercnet.org.
  • Performance Management Training – For performance management training related to coaching, feedback, documentation, conducting a performance review, and more, please contact ckutsko@ercnet.org.
  • HR Help Desk – For guidance or sample forms, policies, and practices related to performance management or for guidance on dealing with employee performance issues, please contact hrhelp@ercnet.org.
  • Surveys – To benchmark your performance management practices against other local organizations, please download our latest survey and special study on appraisal forms.

Source:

Wagner, R. & Harter, J.K. (2008). The Eleventh Element of Great Managing: Why the compulsory performance evaluation is not enough. Adapted from 12: The Elements of Great Managing (Gallup Press, December 2006).

Posted in General HR, Performance Management | 1 Comment

7 Tips for Creating A Great Place to Launch a Career

Congrats to our city of Cleveland, which was recently named as one of the best places for college grads by Bloomberg Businessweek. According to ClevelandPlus, the city ranks 17, up 11 spots from 2009, suggesting that the area is making headway in attracting more young people to the region.

According to ClevelandPlus, the Ohio Board of Regents reports that, on average, 76% of public college graduates stay in the state to work or continue their education in Northeast Ohio (72% of graduates from private colleges). It appears that young workers are attracted to this city for a multitude of reasons, namely access to a diverse array of employers and industries, growth in science and engineering, access to many Fortune 500 companies, and great quality of life (low cost of living, strong graduate educational programs, entertainment, etc.).

There’s no question that young people can bring much value to an organization. Repeatedly, employers cite increased innovation, fresh perspectives, new talent pipelines, and enhanced technological initiatives as a result of hiring young people. But how does an organization attract these young professionals?

There are many ways that you as an employer can promote and offer an attractive employment experience for young people.  We’ve taken some best practices from employers deemed as “the best places to launch a career” as well as our own research and created a few tips:

  • Challenge. Increased responsibility and challenge is the number one thing that young people seek in a job. Providing challenging projects, including them in new initiatives, allowing for creativity, and continuing to enhance their responsibilities are all attractive features of a job for young people.
  • Development. Over the years, ERC’s research consistently suggests that young people want to work for organizations that develop, mentor, and advance them to new levels. In fact, our studies indicate that development is more important to this group than compensation. One great way to develop young people is by giving them the opportunity to attend Emerging Leaders Programs.
  • Collaboration and teamwork. Young people enjoy and are typically more comfortable in collaborative and team-based environments rather than solitary or isolated duties/responsibilities. Frequent opportunities to collaborate and work on a team will likely attract a young person.
  • Compensation. Although compensation ranks lower in importance for young people than development and challenge, young people still recognize its significance. As a result, it’s important to make sure you are paying competitive pay rates based on the market.
  • Fun in the workplace. Young people are naturally attracted to fun and untraditional aspects of the workplace.  It’s not uncommon for organizations to decorate their workplaces with lively colors, create innovative workspaces, and even institute game rooms (with foosball tables, Wiis, big screen tvs, etc.) where employees can relax.  After-work outings and a “work hard, play hard” mentality are also key draws for young people.
  • Stability and growth. Companies that are growing and offering stable employment are the types of employers young people want to work for.  These days, many individuals are looking to “recession-proof” their careers and the young are no exception.
  • Work/life balance. Young people consistently cite that work/life balance is important to them. In addition, a number of articles indicate that time off is particularly important to young people. In addition, young people want and expect organizations to offer flexibility and opportunities to work virtually, perhaps without even being at work.

Once you have the culture and the practices in place to promote your organization as a great place to work for young people, the next step is to promote your workplace! Successful mediums for reaching young audiences include Facebook pages that provide descriptions of your culture, employee testimonials and photos of the workplace,  events, or actual employees; You-Tube pages with videos of the workplace or video testimonials; and colleges and universities (job fair booths, attractive brochures, or job advertisements).

Additional Resources

  • Emerging Leaders Series – a series of workshops designed for young professionals and recent graduates to enhance their communication, presentation, professionalism, and leadership skills
  • Internship Pay Rates & Practices Survey – benchmark how your organization attracts and compensates interns
  • Promoting Northeast Ohio – encourage your job candidates to visit neoisgreat.com to learn about the many positive aspects of living and working in Northeast Ohio
Posted in Communication, General HR, Recruitment & Selection, Training & Development | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment