On-boarding; Make it the Best First Day of their lives.

An employees first day is one of the most important days of their tenure at your company. Better yet, the first two hours are. Those two hours are highly critical for their decision making process. The decision on whether or not they are going stay with your organization.

We could back up a bit to the recruiting process and the interactions and interviews you had with them because we know that these events are also ones that shape their decisions too. We must always be on our best behavior. Let’s just assume for the sake of this article that we already are doing this.

Day One…

My philosophy is to start the new employee later than their normal schedule will be and let them go home early the first day with a full days’ pay. You have already emailed the pertinent on-boarding paperwork to them so when they show up at 9:00 am on their first day they have all that paperwork with them filled out for you to simply double check. They should have their proper identification out and ready to present to you. Why do they have it ready? Because you emailed them a list of everything they need to bring with them on that first day. Is that snickering I hear from you? All of this preparation does come with the knowledge that sometime the new hire will not have read the email and come empty-handed. Remind them that they must bring in the proper identification to you within the three days or we are not in compliance. Don’t let this ruin the employees first day experience. We all know that we are responsible for getting that information.

Tips and Tricks

If you can have a card signed by the team and some executives ready for them that be a great welcome for them. Have their desk set up with all the basic supplies they need for their jobs and the card presented on the desk. If the position does not have a desk set up then presenting it at the end of the HR portion of their first day is fine.

The next step should be with a team leader or supervisor to give the new hire a tour of your facility. Take the time to show them the restrooms, lunch area, lockers if applicable, etc. After the tour have a special meeting to introduce them to the team with pastries and juice. A meet and greet if you will. Show the employee their desk and let them take a bio-break.

Mealtime

Lunch on the first day for the new hire should never be spent alone. We are not, or should not be too busy to schedule a special lunchtime meeting between the new employee and their manager. This is a nice way to answer get to know them personally, answer any questions they might have, and give them the rest of the days’ itinerary. A written agenda shows you took the time to prepare the days’ events and sets aside time for other for any other introductions with department heads this role with will be working with.

The End of the Day is Near

At the end of this first day, remember to give your new team member, if you can, a daily operation manual for them to go through or take home to read at their leisure. Right before they go home for the day the manager and the employee can work out the regular schedule for the rest of this first week and going forward depending on your needs at the organization. Having clear communication of expectations is the best way to start out this relationship.

This first day the new employee has met many people, learned many new things, and most likely is exhausted. Leaving early is a chance for them to regroup for the next day. (As well as knowing we have to get caught up on all the things we didn’t get to do today, its a never ending cycle).

First Impressions are Lasting

I hope this glimpse of a first day has helped you out. First impressions are lasting. Please comment with ideas you have used for on-boarding your new employees!

Employee Engagement, How can I get it?

Employee engagement is when your employees are committed to your organizations goals and values. They are motivated to contribute to it’s success with an enhanced sense of their own well-being.

Instead of starting off with what it is and why we want it, let’s get right in to some examples of what you can do. Are you hungry for information? It’s meat and potatoes time!

Meat and Potatoes; Employee Engagement style…

  1. Try to be flexible in their schedules. I know not all company’s can let people change their start/stop times but if you can, then do it. Give clear guidelines and deadlines for projects and you might be surprised that they get the job on time and correct! When you give them the freedom to finish things at their discretion, you are treating them as the adults they are.
  2. Encourage your team members to volunteer, or better yet come up with an idea and volunteer as a team. Some employers set a side a day of volunteering with specific projects in mind. Ask your team members for suggestions, I bet you will get quite a few!
  3. Build trust with your employees. When you are open and an authentic manager you will build trust and remove the need for them to hide things from you. When they feel they can come to you without retaliation, they will respond better and engage themselves more in the department.
  4. Make sure your team receives their breaks and lunch times. Uninterrupted. Another nice thing to do is if you see an especially stressed out employee, give them a chance to take five to care for themselves. They may have just had a rough experience and need to compose themselves. This shows you care for their well-being.
  5. Ask for feedback from your employees without fear of criticism or judgement. This doesn’t mean you have to implement everything they suggest but make sure you try to choose one idea to put into effect so they continue to share ideas. After all, they are the ones in the trenches making it happen.
  6. Play office games to get them to know each other. Have group fun events like a pizza party or karaoke after work on a Friday night. This breaks the monotony and allows some fun down-time for the team as a whole.
  7. Promote honesty; Build relationships; and show gratitude regularly.

The main way to engage employees is to get leadership buy-in and action. If the executives don’t lead by example the trust is never built and engagement fails.

How do I do this?

Provide your employees with tools for success. If they don’t have the computer, or training, or office supplies necessary and feel like they have to provide all those things themselves, they won’t stick around because they don’t think you care.

Communicate the goals of the organization. Make sure you have regularly schedule meetings with the team so they know the “why” of what they are doing. Let them know where the company is headed and how their contributions are getting them there.

Give them as much autonomy in their roles as you can. I hear it regularly during the hire process that employees want to be valued for their expertise and to have managers just let them do their jobs without hovering. You hired this person for a reason, let them shine.

Recognize their hard work. Not everyone likes open public recognition or a gift card, but telling someone how well they are doing with a “great job” once in a while can move mountains!

Get to know your team. You don’t have to become best friends with everyone and as a manager I don’t suggest you do that at all anyway. However, you can find out about them, what they like, their hobbies, what is important to them, or their charities. Asking about things other than work is another way to show them that you care.

How do I increase Employee Engagement?

Simple. Train them. Give them meaningful work. Make sure they are in the right role. Check in with them often.

What are the benefits of Employee Engagement?

I’m sure you all know but here they are:

  • Higher employee satisfaction
  • Lower turnover
  • Higher productivity

Engage with your team and work with all of your managers and supervisors to create the atmosphere that stops people from pushing the snooze button multiple times and makes them want to jump out of bed and come to work!

The Art of Resume’ Reading

Looking at resume’s seems to be a lost art form these days. The more technology we use to parse out words and phrases, takes away the humanity of the resume itself. After all, this is about the human. The people we want to bring in to our organizations.

I’m a bit old school and like to look at every resume. I look at details like length of service at each job, duties they performed, skills they may have, people they managed, and what their education is. I’m sure you all check out these details too.

Technology

Resume readers, and I mean the robot kind, are programmed to look for key words and phrases that match up with the job description. That’s fine but what a robot doesn’t do is see experiences that may not match exactly to the current job applied to, but have related experience that transfers to the posted job requirements.

I like to look for these types of details because it shows flexibility and their potential range. Now some might say that looking at each resume might be deemed as discriminatory because of the title names sounding “ethnic” and that would cause me to not pick them for interviewing. Well that would be true if I was a BAD HR Director. But since I’m NOT, I don’t worry about it. I always start with the job description and match skills and experience. If you take a chance on someone that is really close to your requirements as well, it may surprise you.

So now you have a pool of candidates…

Let’s do a phone screen interview. I have used a specific phone screen template for many years now and I always start with the “housekeeping” questions. What are they you ask?

  1. How did you hear about this opening? *This allows you to track and report where people are finding your ads to make sure you are getting your money’s worth.
  2. If chosen, what is your availability for an in-house interview? *This give you a firm grasp of when is best to schedule with this candidate. It is very helpful especially if you are planning for multiple interviews in one day.
  3. Do you have a wage in mind for this position? *I know in some states it is illegal to ask what someone is currently making per hour so I don’t ask that question. Asking the candidate what they are looking for is perfectly legal. It gives you a chance to see if their expectations are within the pay grade range you have set up for this position. If it is too high you can tell them what the range is and ask if it fits within their budget. If yes, great! Continue the interview. If its not, then politely say that we didn’t want to waste their time and they didn’t want t o waste ours. End the interview at this point.
  4. If you were to be hired for the position, when would you be able to start? *The answer to this question can give us many clues. If they say “I need to give 2 weeks” that is a standard time frame that most companies ask employees to respect. If they say “anytime” they are most likely not currently working (so check their resume to see if it jives). Now, some positions may require longer notice periods but for the most part the answer to this question helps you and the hiring manager.
  5. Why are you leaving your current position? *If in #4 they answer “anytime” , you can assume they aren’t currently working but I have heard many reasons for this question. I personally don’t take offense or read much into it, I just like to know why if they are willing to tell me. It can be for reasons like lay-offs, personal growth, “I always wanted to work here”, or just moved to the area. Remember from my first article, sometimes people leave their bosses. That is a big reason.
  6. Are you available to work at our xxx location? *You want to be sure to tell them where they will be working in case you have multiple locations and you know where this particular position will work.

Meat and Potatoes

Now that the housekeeping questions are complete, you can get into the “meat and potatoes” of the job to see if the candidate really knows their stuff. I like to put together questions pertaining to the job title and then work with the hiring manager to come up with a few questions that they want to know up front before face-to-face interviews. I suggest about ten questions. It shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes of interview time. The last three questions are usually the same for me.

What kind of manager to you like to have? *Most people will say that want communication with their manager and no micro-managing.

Why are you the person for the position? *I like to hear people respond with confidence here such as, I “know” I’m the right person because…. If they use, “I think I’m the right person…” then it shows less confidence in themselves and possibly their ability to do the job.

What questions do you have for me? *This is a good tool for getting more information about where the candidate is coming from. What they are really interested in. I find too, if as the HR person I don’t know the answer, it is an opportunity for me to ask the hiring manager so I have a better understanding of the role and the department. You learn something new everyday.

Now that the phone screen is over…

After each interview, I like to type up the responses and send them along with the resume to the hiring manager. From there, the manager can see we have asked each candidate the same questions and they can pick from the group who they want to bring in for the next round. I usually step back in when the manager has made a decision and wants to make an offer. Of course different companies have different recruiting and hiring processes but this gives you some ideas to use.

PTO vs. Vacation, Sick, and Personal Time

I have always been of the opinion that if my employer offers me vacation or PTO then it is my right to take it for whatever I want without explanation. A PTO policy creates a pool of days that employees can use at their discretion. This creates a sense that they may actually get a true work/life balance. Does your employer ask you for details of your PTO? If so, why?

Why should it matter how employees are using their time? Did they earn it? Did they follow policy and procedure for requesting it? Did it get approved? If so, then you shouldn’t have to go any further. The reason I ask is because if managers are asking why or where someone is going does that make it subjective to the manager to pick and choose which time off they will approve and which they won’t if they don’t like the answer from the employee? Is saying that I want to stay home and work a week in my garden without interruption any less or more important than wanting time off to go to a theme park with the family? Approving time should be based on the policies and procedures of the organization. For example, your company may use the “first come, first served” approach or the “seniority” route. If you use these methods instead of finding out the itinerary of your team member you are in better shape to stay away from a discrimination claim. An employee that overhears an approval for the theme park but then requests the garden time and gets denied may question your decision and your motives resulting in filing a grievance.

A PTO Bucket of Days

This is my favorite way to go only because I haven’t had the experience of unlimited PTO in an organization yet. I’ve read about it but I don’t see a lot of company’s trying this approach quite yet.

I have been in several organizations that allow you to take up to three weeks of vacation/PTO at a time. Now, I know what you are thinking….All that work piling up if you actually took three weeks off. Believe me, I hear you. With as many emails I get on a daily basis, I would not want to come back to over 2600 of them after three weeks away and that would just be the email pile up. There would also be a whole lot of other catch up to do after that amount of time off.

However, some employees are more task-oriented and don’t usually sit at the traditional desk so their work doesn’t pile up. This makes it easier for them to take this amount of time off. I would say that in my experience people take about 5 days off at a time so they can spread out their time off during the year instead of all at once.

Vacation, Sick, and Personal Time

If you have a vacation, sick and personal day type of leave then other problems and concerns may arise. If an employee is ill throughout the year and runs out of their allotted “sick” time they may want to borrow from the personal or vacation bucket. Do you allow this or not and say “Sorry, Charlie”. While some policies allow for the use of vacation for sick time, others don’t and then you run into the employees who may lie or make up stories about how they are using their time.

Employee are Adults…wait, what?

We want to empower our “adult” employees to take their PTO at their discretion so we can stop the practice of needing to ask permission from their managers to miss work. We also want to encourage them to use the time they have earned to decrease burnout in the workplace.

Always, always, always, have policies and procedures to establish how requests are made and granted so you are treating everyone fairly and consistently. Your employees will value the flexibility of PTO vs. the Vacation,Sick, and Personal Day approach.

Recruiting, Ugh, right?!?

I know what you’re thinking, “I’m doing everything I can think of!” Well, let’s put those ideas aside for now and see what else is out there. Now I already know that some of you have budget constraints, technological barriers, or you are an HR team of one. Let’s see what we can do to help you all. If we keep listing ideas, there might be something new that will work for you and your organization.

The Basics

  • Recruiting Software
  • Job sourcing websites
  • Job Fairs (internal and external)
  • Company websites
  • Company social media sites
  • LinkedIn sites professional and personal

Let’s start with Job Fairs. Are you doing them? I am sure it depends on the industry you are in. What are you doing at them? Are we sitting behind a six foot table not engaging with the candidates or are we on our feet out in front of the table greeting and talking with potential hires?

Are you passing out any information? Swag? I found a great tool in a small logo’d zipper pouch that my business card fits into along with a piece of candy of course! It is a bright color, simple, small, and something that reminds them of me when they get home. Of course I pass out other pertinent materials and encourage them to write their contact information down so I can thank them for stopping by.

What does your table look like?

Is your table covered with a plain white table cloth and white paper to put names and numbers on? Is the table covered with a cloth at all?

Please make sure that you use either your company colors or a bright tablecloth to stand out from the competition. You can also purchase a relatively inexpensive smaller banner cloth with your company logo or name on it. Purchase some display cases with and 8 x 10 flyer listing your open positions or current hiring bonuses. Candy is always a nice give-away as well as some type of branded gift.

Elevator Speech

Definition: A slang term used to describe a brief speech that outlines an idea for a product, service, or project. Usually 20-60 seconds in length. Do you have one?

Here is how to create one:

  • List what you do for the company and who you are
  • List what service or jobs you can offer them
  • What are the advantages of working for your company
  • Why do you differ from other companies
  • Fine tune your speech
  • Make sure the sentences flow
  • Memorize it
  • Practice, Practice, Practice!

Example: Hi! My name is Lisa Gallucci and I am the HR Director here at James Company. I have sixteen openings right now in several departments including facilities, accounting, customer service, and environmental services. We offer 100% employer paid medical, dental, and vision for our employees. Please feel free to write down your contact information here and we can set up a tour!

Now you have given them a bunch of information about what you are offering, what you can offer them and you have received their contact information to follow up with them. Great job! Stay tuned for discussions on other recruiting ideas. Ciao for now!

People don’t leave their jobs……they leave their managers.

Accountability

Accountability is a huge thing in every business. People want leadership. They crave it. If their leaders don’t hold themselves accountable to policies and procedures and then don’t hold their Directors accountable to them, the employees not only pay the price but they lose faith in the company, its systems and do one of two things. They stay and just and just collect a paycheck, or they leave for another company.

What does that do to the rest of the team? They must pick up the slack until another person is hired. When this happens, they still have to work harder until that new person gets trained. In the meantime another person gets fed up and resigns. It’s a vicious cycle. HR representatives are killing themselves to keep good people but if the powers that be don’t follow the policies as stated, chaos ensues.

So, at the beginning of this blog I say that people leave their managers right? Yes, and why? Because of the rest of the statements listed above and other things that come into play.

How does HR help this? Well, speaking truth to power is a difficult thing for most people, but it is imperative that we do. There are ways to get your point across and with good reasons. Precedent is usually one that gets to the core of leadership. They don’t want to have to repeat this one-off decision so if you can show that the thing they want to do is going to set precedent, then sell it that way. Go to policy. Why do we have them if we aren’t going to follow them? Go to the question of “What do we do now in this situation?” This is a big one. If we stray from what we normally do, and it is with policy and procedure, we better have a really good reason to do so. Now I know some of you are reading this and saying, “BS!” lady! I get it. But, I have had to do this on many occasions. Recently. If your organization has an HR legal resource, it is always a good way to begin.

If you feel like I do and really love your job, then use your brainpower, resources, and passion for HR and do the job you were paid to do. Protect the company from potential law suits. You’ve got this!