Tag Archives: WorldatWork

Work-Life Programs, Balancing Work and Family

Work-Life Programs, Balancing Work And Family

I spent several hours this week reviewing nomination forms for the Top Workplaces for Women in the Valley. It was refreshing to read that numerous Valley employers offer work-life programs to help workers (both men and women) minimize work-life conflict.

The programs include standard practices such as flexible work schedules, job sharing, telework, backup childcare, etc. Several programs are innovative and uncommon enough to mention, including a sick child-care service where the employer provides a nanny for the day and one where new mothers are given the opportunity to bring their babies to work until he/she is six months old. Sounds great, yes, but I couldn’t help but wonder how many employees actually take advantage of these programs?

Earlier this year, WorldatWork collaborated (with WFD Consulting) on a global survey  that revealed a growing imbalance between what employers say about work-life balance and what they actually do. We uncovered workplace trends showing employees suffer a variety of job repercussions for participating in work-life programs, even when their employers insist they support them.

“This conundrum can be so oppressive that some employees go underground, resorting to ‘stealth maneuvers’ for managing their personal responsibilities,” says Kathie Lingle, executive director of WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress.

“The good news is that 80 percent of employers avow support for family-friendly workplaces,” says Lingle, a WorldatWork work-life certified professional (WLCP). “The bad news is they are simultaneously penalizing those who actively strive to integrate work with their lives.”

Employee respondents reported repercussions that included:

  • Overtly or subtly discouraged from using flexible work and other work-life programs
  • Received unfavorable job assignments
  • Received negative performance reviews
  • Received negative comments from supervisor
  • Denied a promotion

Many managers still think the ideal employee is one that is available to meet business needs regardless of business hours and don’t have a lot of personal commitments. Clearly, closing the gap between what managers believe and how they behave will make every workplace a better place to work.

I welcome comments from readers who have experienced employer support or encouragement for balancing work and family.

For more information about work-life programs or WorldatWork visit, www.worldatwork.org.

 

WorldatWork 2011-2010 Salary Budget Survey

Salary Budget Survey: Salaries Can’t Keep Up With Inflation

WorldatWork’s 2011-2010 Salary Budget Survey - For the first time since 1980 the U.S. rate of inflation is higher than the average salary budget increase. During the 12-month period ending April 2011, the Consumer Price Index was 3.2%. Average pay increases for the same period? 2.8%.

Why haven’t pay increases kept up with the rate of inflation? A host of factors — particularly high unemployment – are conspiring to keep salary increase budgets low.

With the nation’s unemployment rate averaging 9.4 percent, the law of supply and demand is at play. Salaries may only see significant improvement if unemployment decreases, which would put pressure on employers to raise wages in order to stay competitive.

Successful organizations will not pay more than necessary for any expenditure, and with low risk of losing employees to other organizations, higher increases are not justified at this time,” explained Don Lindner, senior practice leader at WorldatWork, a global HR association headquartered in Arizona.

Skeptics need only look at companies in mining, quarrying, oil and gas. Because these industries are currently experiencing a shortage of skilled labor, their 2012 planned salary budgets are above average, at 4.1%.

U.S. employees in other industries, on the other hand, can expect average pay increases of 2.9% in 2012, though it may be closer to 4.0% for high performers.

About the Salary Budget Survey

The “WorldatWork 2011-2010 Salary Budget Survey” includes data from more than 2,400 participants, representing nearly 15 million U.S. employees. The data, collected in April 2011, represents a wide variety of U.S. companies and industries, distributed across all 50 states.

Dad working from home

Do Men Care About Work-Life Balance?

In a word, yes! When it comes to work and family, men and women are more alike than different, according to a new research study of employees around the world. This finding conflicts with a widely held assumption that male identity is rooted in work, whereas women place a higher priority on personal and family life.

The Global Study on Men and Work-Life Integration (WorldatWork and WFD Consulting 2011) sought to understand how organizations can remove the stereotypes and barriers that prevent men from utilizing work-life offerings, as well as what prevents leaders and managers, who are often men, from supporting the use of work-life options.

Findings include:

Work-life programs are not as effective as they can be because managers still cling to the notion that the “ideal worker” is an employee with few personal commitments. A majority of managers still believe that the most productive employees are those without a lot of personal commitments.

Financial stress is a top work-life issue across country and gender, and the top issue for most. Employees increasingly spend part of their on-the-job time addressing financial concerns. Employers can ease this stress by increasing employee assistance programs, offering financial counseling programs, and being as transparent as possible about the corporate financial situation and job security.

“Working men and women around the world seek the same holy grail: success in both their work and family lives,” said Kathie Lingle, WLCP, executive director of WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress. “The assumption that male identity is rooted in work and not family is a major impediment to the effective integration of employees’ work and family lives.”

Added Peter Linkow, president of WFD Consulting: “Leaders must give voice to their own stories of work-life integration, warts and all. This would be a powerful step toward reducing employees’ fears that utilizing the benefits they have been given will jeopardize their careers.  This is especially important in a climate where financial stress and job security are top-of-mind for workers.”

Sign-on bonus

Your Next Job Offer May Include A Sign-On Bonus

Despite it being a buyers’ market, employers say they are willing to pay sign-on bonuses to attract the right talent. A new WorldatWork study found that, despite budget cuts, a majority (54 percent) of (mostly large) U.S. employers are still offering sign-on bonuses to new employees, especially key new hires filling critical positions.

A sign-on or signing bonus is a sum of money paid to a new employee by a company as an incentive to join that company. Sign-on bonuses are almost exclusively given to full-time salaried employees of a company, as opposed to a temporary hire or intern. They are often given as a way of making a pay package more attractive to the job candidate.

According to the WorldatWork survey on bonus programs (to be released in early May), sign-on bonuses continue to be fairly prevalent for all employee levels (except clerical) within organizations.  Most employee groups are typically eligible for amounts between $1,000 and $9,999, but many executives have been known to receive more than $10,000.

With today’s unemployment rates, the sign-on bonus may come as a (pleasant) surprise to many job candidates. This is because despite the current economic slump, there remains a shortage of qualified employees in certain hard-to-fill positions.

Sign-on bonuses can help:

To be competitive

If the candidate is considering another comparable job offer, some money up front can be the clincher.

To bridge a gap

If what the candidate is asking for and what the employer is willing to offer is off by a few grand, this is a way to make up the difference.

To replace a lost benefit

When some benefit or perk with the present employer is not part of the offered package, a sign-on bonus might make up for, say, the absence of a car allowance or diminished amount of vacation time with the new employer.

To cover a performance bonus

If a candidate won’t leave their current company until a certain time so they can first collect their annual bonus, a sign-on bonus can sweeten the deal.

Need further proof that companies are using bonuses to attract talent? Sixty percent of the 1,023 surveyed companies have a referral bonus program, whereby cash bonuses are paid to employees who refer new hires.

Tailoring Jobs

Tailoring In The Workplace May Lead To A Better Fit

A good fit between employer and employee ups the chances that the employee will find his or her job fulfilling and be more productive. This was confirmed by a study sponsored by WorldatWork, “Organizational Culture and Total Rewards: Person-Organization Fit (2010),” which found that employees who share similar values with their organizations tend to be more satisfied with the total rewards packages offered by those organizations. And that kind of employee satisfaction enhances employee engagement.

But wait, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Surprisingly, the same study found that employees who are more satisfied with their organization’s standard benefits package are less likely to be engaged in their work. That’s because benefits packages, which are uniformly distributed among employees of a similar classification, are perceived differently than other rewards such as bonuses, which are performance based.

“This research has several practical implications for employers,” said Ryan Johnson, vice president of research for WorldatWork. “If organizations want to have engaged employees, it makes sense for them to attract and hire people who share similar values to the organization. It’s also important for them to offer a total rewards package tailored for their employees and not just a standard benefits package.”

Employee engagement is a key ingredient among workers who are committed to the mission and goals of their organization. Employees are more committed to organizations whose values align with their own. If an organization is socially minded, it would do well to hire employees who value corporate social responsibility. If a hospital’s mission is to provide integrated health care, it will have an easier time attracting and retaining physicians who value collaboration. If a company’s goal is to revolutionize digital music, it ought to hire creative people with an appetite for some risk.

Sounds like all one has to do to ensure productivity is to hire employees with similar values to begin with, right?  Not necessarily, says Johnson.

“For innovation-driven companies, hiring like-minded employees could have a negative impact on innovation within the organization. You need to consider all the factors.”

In & Out Box, Ready for Recovery - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Businesses Tasked With Retaining Key Talent In Months Ahead

Anne C. Ruddy, president of WorldatWork, an Arizona-based professional association of human resources practitioners, has extensive experience leading and managing large organizations at the highest level. A talent innovator, she uses her organization and its staff of 130 as a laboratory to test new practices and transfer new ideas to its membership regarding human capital. Here, Ruddy shares a few key strategies for managing talent in this economic recovery.

What kind of impact has the recession had on work forces around the nation?
In a word, negative. Employers are painfully aware that cost-cutting measures deployed to stay afloat during the recession adversely affected workers. One of our recent studies — “The Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey by WorldatWork and Towers Watson” — confirms just how gravely the cost-cutting measures taken during the financial crisis impacted employees’ workloads, their ability to manage work-related stress and overall employee engagement. As a result, companies can expect greater difficulty in motivating employees and retaining key talent during the economic recovery.

What can organizations do to ensure a smooth post-recession recovery?

The very first thing is to identify your top performers. Who are your high-value contributors? These include not only those who drive the most revenue, but also those who play crucial roles in areas such as product development and human resources, or those who help build the employer brand and reputation. Forget the rear view mirror — you’d be smart to base decisions on future business priorities, not just recent performance. Sales employees, for example, who have generated less income than usual during the economic crisis, will continue to be highly valued given the central role business development plays in most post-recession recovery plans.

So you inventory talent and now have a list of pivotal employees. What’s next?

Show pivotal employees they matter. A-players want to know they have a future place in the company. While promotions are one way to send this message, they’re not always possible in this economy. Special assignments, involvement in high-visibility projects, skill-building opportunities, and formal or informal recognition can be equally powerful engagement and retention tools. Also, keep top performers informed about evolving business strategies. Too often, top performers join competitors simply because inadequate communication has left them feeling unappreciated, uncertain about their roles or uninformed about changing business needs.

Many employers were forced to freeze or cut pay during the financial crisis. What should they do for the recovery?

Return to pre-recession pay practices as soon as possible, and differentiate based on performance. Failure to do so can result in high performers being demotivated, demoralized, or worse yet, cause them to look at other options for employment that seem to offer greater rewards for their efforts. Organizations need to make hard decisions, both in rating performance and allocating compensation dollars. If there isn’t enough cash to go around, don’t go spreading it like peanut butter!

Given current high unemployment rates, is the war for talent over?

Quite the opposite. Companies should prepare to compete for the best and the brightest. Don’t be lulled by a perceived surplus of post-recession talent. While it’s an employers’ market for some positions, demand remains high for critical skills. Impending baby-boomer retirements and projected shortages in critical technical disciplines will only intensify the competition. To get ahead, you need to measure the talent that exists in your organization today, in order to find the talent gaps you need to fill so that the organization can get where it needs to go.

What do successful companies know that others may not?

Progressive companies, what we often refer to as “employers of choice,” know that keeping those people who are critical to success is a lot easier than going out into the market and trying to find new people, train them, mother them, and get them ready to really be productive, which usually takes a year from their date of hire.
In good times and in bad, the best companies look beyond talent management to talent innovation. They are on a perpetual quest for the best and the brightest employees, who can truly elevate the organization as opposed to passively watching the organization grow.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

performance reviews

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Evaluating Employees’ Performances

It’s that time of year for annual performance reviews, a necessary evil to managers and employees alike. But, it’s not all that bad if done correctly and thoughtfully. The following are ways managers can optimize the performance review process:

Don’t postpone or reschedule a performance review

Perhaps the most important meeting a manager can schedule is the employee’s performance review. Whether the review is a quarterly or semiannual update, or the all-important annual review, set the date well in advance and keep it at all costs — save an emergency business or personal crisis. Delaying or postponing a performance review can be a sign of poor planning, misguided priorities and lack of preparedness. And while the manager is accountable for keeping the review date, employees can be equally guilty of avoiding a performance review. It reflects poorly on both parties.

Don’t shirk from the tough conversation

In a recent WorldatWork and Sibson Consulting survey, 63 percent of HR practitioners expressed frustration with managers who lack the courage to have difficult performance discussions. Some managers deliver performance reviews to their top performers first and save the dreaded ones for under-performers until the very end. Bad wine doesn’t improve with age and neither does a poor performers’ review discussion. Sub-par performers need to be assessed and given corrective feedback and coaching sooner rather than later.

Don’t combine performance reviews with salary discussions

Refrain from talking about compensation at the same time as performance. Here’s why: the employee will tend to focus more on the size of his/her pay raise, which detracts from the conversation about performance. Ideally, pay increase discussions are held a week or two after the performance review. That way, if the reviewer misses a major achievement and needs to add it to the appraisal document, there is ample time to correct it, as well as adjust the corresponding pay raise before it is communicated.

Do encourage employee self-appraisal

What an employee views as accomplishments is a very important piece of information for a manager to consider. A significant gap between a manager’s and employee’s appraisals is a signal that the manager has some work to do in providing the employee examples of performance that account for the difference in viewpoint. Don’t assume that this performance gap is due to employees inflating or “padding” their rating. On occasion, employees may even undervalue their performance and contribution. Granted, it is a more rare circumstance, but a gap is still a gap that needs to be reconciled with specific examples and feedback.

Do avoid rating biases such as the halo/horn effect

This occurs when an employee is rated (positively or negatively) on one trait or factor that can influence ratings for all the other traits. This problem often occurs with employees who are especially friendly (or unfriendly) toward the supervisor or especially strong (or weak) in one skill. To avoid the halo effect, evaluate all your people on one performance factor before going to another factor. This way the evaluation is based on the factors more than an overall impression of one individual.

Do include a success plan as part of the process

Too many managers use the performance appraisal as a way to provide negative feedback on employee performance instead of approaching it as a success plan for the coming year. A success plan outlines what success looks like, the skills needed to be successful, the organizational support they can expect (training, resources, budget, etc.), and what they’ll be receiving in return for their time, talent and effort.

Performance management is a powerful tool. The organizations that benefit from it the most are those that use it as a blueprint for success to drive business results forward, instead of a rear-view mirror look at what could have been.

Just 11 percent of employers award cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to employees

Age Of The Un-COLA: The Cost Of Living Myth

Just 11 percent of employers award cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to employees, preferring to award promotional and merit increases, according to a WorldatWork study on compensation practices.

COLA refers to an across-the-board wage and salary increase designed to bring pay in line with increases in the cost of living to maintain real purchasing power. Cost of living still dominates many workers’ perception of their raises, believing that these are given to cover a cost of living increase, rather than to reward them for job performance.

As a best practice, human resources managers don’t mix merit pay with cost of living factors that have no bearing on job worth or performance. An individual’s cost of living is driven by their personal financial choices and cannot be neatly tied back to the CPI.  Example: a choice to take out a five-year loan with 0 percent down for a luxury car versus a compact car has nothing to do with the local cost of labor. How employees have chosen to allocate their finances is a personal choice.  A vast majority of employers and HR managers view pay raises as a tool to motivate employees. How motivating can it be for a top performer to receive the same base pay increase as a low or average performer?

Given the prevalence of tying pay to performance, expect the number of employers awarding COLA to stay flat, if not altogether dwindle in the coming years. This trend actually began way before the  recession, and is not likely to come back even in an economic recovery. The reason is that more and more organizations are requiring increases in pay to be earned. Showing up at work is no longer enough.

No doubt this news will be met with approval by high performers and derided by low performers. Which kind are you?

Time is money

For Employers, Time Is The New Currency

With all the cost cutting employers have had to do during the recent recession to stay afloat, it’s comforting to know that a key employee benefit near and dear to everyone’s heart has survived — paid vacations. According to a WorldatWork research report, Paid Time Off Programs and Practices*, a majority of U.S. employers still offer paid time off. In fact, three out of four survey respondents say it’s necessary to offer paid time off programs and do so in traditional and non-traditional ways.

Three types of paid-time-off programs:

Traditional system — Gives employees separate allotments for vacation, personal and sick days.

PTO banks — Workers receive a pooled number of days off that can be used as needed (generally excluding fixed holidays, jury duty and bereavement).

Unlimited leave – Employees can take as many days off as needed.

The United States is among the minority of countries in the United Nations with no guarantee of paid leave for workers. The WorldatWork study found that a majority of U.S. employers offer it as a key employee benefit even if they are not mandated to do so. With the focus of the Obama Administration and Congress on expanding access to paid leave programs, the research shows that employers recognize the competitive advantage of offering paid time off and believe in continuing these programs, in good times and in bad.

Other key findings:

A vast majority of employers provide paid sick leave.

The average number of paid sick days in a traditional system is nine.

PTO bank systems do not distinguish between vacation and sick time.

Employers offer an average of nine paid holidays each year.

Amidst pay cuts and wage freezes, time is emerging as the new currency, and it’s nice to know employers remain committed to rewarding and motivating employees with paid time off.

*Published in May 2010, data for the WorldatWork Paid Time Off Programs and Practices survey was gathered from Feb. 17-March 5, 2010. Of the 1,036 responses, 37 percent came from companies with 5,000 or more employees.

Three business people standing together with arms around each other

Are You A Kind Boss?

Look in the mirror and ask yourself: What kind of boss are you? Do you resemble Cruella De Vil from “101 Dalmatians” – a heartless, puppy-snatcher who orders her hapless henchmen to carry out her cruel demands? Or are you more like Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars” — a dedicated, knowledgeable, soft-spoken Jedi Master with a wry sense of humor?

What are the characteristics of a good boss? While there are far too many traits to mention, here are the top three traits necessary to motivate workers:

A kind boss is someone who solves problems and manages conflict

Studies show that full-time employees spend nearly three hours per week dealing with conflict. Poorly managed conflict can bring serious problems to the workplace, including personal insults and attacks, sickness or absence, and can even lead to someone leaving the company. Instead of avoiding conflict, a good manager uses it as a means to produce a better solution to a workplace problem. Numerous books discuss how to deal with conflict. One that specifically deals with five primary styles of handling conflict is “Introduction to Conflict Management: Improving Performance Using the TKI” by Kenneth Thomas.

A kind boss is someone who practices direct, open communications

In this jobless recovery, employees spend nearly three hours a day worrying about job security. A survey by Lynn Taylor Consulting found that management may be unwittingly fueling this fear by staying behind closed doors: 76 percent of employees said that a closed door triggers thoughts of being laid off. Employees want more communication — whether good news or bad — because it makes them feel like they matter.

A kind boss is someone who invests in employees

A soft economy is the perfect time for managers to think of ways other than money to motivate employees. In a recent survey by SkillSoft, eight out of 10 employees stated they would have higher job satisfaction if they received more on-the-job training. Helping employees acquire new skills and assume greater responsibility to advance professionally is one of the most effective ways managers can promote loyalty, improve performance and build future leaders.

Arizona Business Magazine's Editor-in-Chief Janet Perez

The Buzz on AZNow.Biz – September 20, 2010

It’s another exciting week at AZNow.Biz. Arizona’s credit unions are asking Congress to allow them to make more loans to more small businesses. This week also marks the debut of our workforce columnist, Marcia Rhodes, from the recruitment firm WorldatWork. Rhodes asks the question, are you a good boss?  Find all this and more at AZNow.Biz.

Most Admired Companies - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

2010 Most Admired Companies Award Winners

Arizona Business Magazine and BestCompaniesAZ are honored to unveil the winners of our inaugural Arizona’s Most Admired Companies Awards.

With 43 winners, we think you’ll agree the awards selection committee has done an outstanding job in determining some of the most admired companies in our state.  Our primary goal in developing this program was to find those organizations that excel in four key areas: workplace culture, leadership excellence, social responsibility and customer opinion.  This list features the most prestigious companies in our state, providing us the opportunity to learn from the best.

Adolfson & Peterson Construction
Headquarters: Minneapolis
Year Est.: 1991
No. of Employees in AZ: 69
Recent Award: AIA Kemper Goodwin Award – 2009
WEB: www.a-p.com

AlliedBarton Security Services
Headquarters: Conshohocken, Penn.
Year Est.: 1957
No. of Employees in AZ: 1,047
Recent Award: Brandon Hall Research Award for Best Integration of Learning and Talent Management – 2009
WEB: www.alliedbarton.com
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American Express
Headquarters: New York
Year Est.: 1850
No. of Employees in AZ: 7,219
Recent Award: Fortune Magazine’s Most Admired Companies – 2010
WEB: www.americanexpress.com
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Arizona Charter Academy
Headquarters: Surprise
Year Est.: 2001
No. of Employees in AZ: 61
Recent Award: Elks Lodge Community Partner of the Year – 2010
WEB: www.azcharteracademy.com
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Banner Health
Headquarters: Phoenix
Year Est.: 1999
No. of Employees in AZ: 27,528
Recent Award: Gallup Great Workplace Award – 2009
WEB: www.bannerhealth.com
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BeachFleischman PC
Headquarters: Tucson
Year Est.: 1991
No. of Employees in AZ: 104
Recent Award: Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work For – 2009
WEB: www.beachfleischman.com

To buy a print version of the 2010 Arizona’s Most Admired Companies
go to MagCloud.com

Arizona's Most Admired Companies November-December 2010

Customized HR: Employees Want A “New Deal” At Work - AZ Business Magazine June 2010

Customized HR: Employees Want A “New Deal” At Work

I’d like the pie heated and I don’t want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla, if you have it; if not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it’s real; if it’s out of the can then nothing.”
~ Sally Albright, When Harry Met Sally

If consumers can customize everything from their food and beverage orders to their kitchens and closets, why can’t employees customize their needs at work? Typically, if an employee wants a different “deal” at work — perhaps more time with their families and less responsibility and compensation — they have two options: try to negotiate a special arrangement or look for a different employer.

Or do they? Smart managers are waking up to the fact that when it comes to compensating employees, cookie-cutter pay packages are no longer the norm. But the majority of executives and managers resist the idea of customized rewards packages because it’s easier to treat all employees the same. Making “special deals” requires time, positive intention, creative thinking and discussions that many managers and HR practitioners have little experience or comfort with. But that’s exactly what is needed in order to effectively attract, motivate and retain the talent needed for business success, according to a new WorldatWork research report, “Beyond Compensation: How Employees Prioritize Total Rewards at Various Life Stages.” Nearly 700 workers participated in the survey conducted by Next Generation Consulting (NGC) and Dieringer Research through a research grant from WorldatWork.

The survey found that employees value different things at different stages of life. These rewards go beyond their pay check and include benefits, work-life, career development and recognition. The research concludes that:

Work-life balance is significantly more important for women with young children.

Benefits are significantly more important for breadwinners, particularly female breadwinners who are further along in their careers.

Professional development (ex: training) is significantly more important for young employees (under 40) who are not yet supervisors.

Older employees value benefits more; younger employees value work-life balance and career development more.

Men favor money over work-life balance (though recent studies show men experience almost as much work-life conflict as women do).

What does this mean for talent managers? Given the increasing diversity of today’s work force, a one-size-fits-all approach to managing employees no longer works. Smart managers invest the time and energy to understand and create a “new deal” consisting of both cash and non-cash rewards if they want to attract and retain the best and the brightest.

Arizona Business Magazine June 2010