Cloud securityDoes your HR department operate in the cloud? If not, you are in the minority, according to the 2015 North Bridge Future of Cloud Computing Survey. The survey reports that an astonishing 73.5% of HR and payroll activities are performed in the cloud. That number is extraordinary, especially considering that just five years ago the HR industry ranked as the third least likely to migrate to the cloud.

But with that increased usage comes a corresponding increase in concerns about security. With data breaches holding the potential to put financial information, health records, and trade secrets at risk, companies need a robust risk management plan to effectively manage access and train employees in data safety.

Is Your Data Safe?

Cloud computing has historically been viewed with trepidation by many organizations, so much so that CIO put out a list last year of 20 common cloud security myths based on the experience of industry experts. Among those myths are the ideas that the cloud is inherently insecure, that it is less secure than an on-premise solution, and that cloud security is the sole responsibility of the provider.

The reality is far more nuanced than that. Because cloud has become so pervasive, it’s nearly impossible to avoid outside threats altogether. The key is to develop internal processes and policies designed to minimize the threats that still create very real security risks for companies operating in the cloud.

It’s About Access, Not Location

Experts argue that security is less about where you store your data and more about how you manage access. On-premise servers face just as many security threats as cloud-based solutions do, and in many cases they have fewer security protocols in place. But even with the most conscientious cloud provider, it’s still up to each organization to protect data from a standpoint of access and management. Here’s how:

  • Choose a provider you trust—Choose a provider who conducts regular security audits to remain up to date with the latest standards rather than relying solely on security certifications and compliance policies.
  • Train employees in data safety—By making data safety a regular conversation within your organization, you can keep employees aware of common phishing techniques, password safety threats, and access weaknesses. Prohibit password sharing and conduct regular administrative audits to make sure individuals aren’t placing data at risk—even inadvertently.
  • Focus more on risk management and less on perimeters—We are beyond the days where firewalls and proxies are enough to protect your information. Comprehensive risk management should provide several layers of protection including technology, processes, and training designed to combat hackers and other threats.
  • Create robust backup protocols—Hosting your data in the cloud doesn’t mean you can forget about backup. A technical glitch or malicious attack on the cloud provider can still result in lost or compromised data. Always maintain clean backups either onsite or with another cloud provider to ensure that your data remains safe.
  • Institute mobile content management policies—As BYOD becomes more pervasive, mobile content management solutions including intelligent mobile apps, mobile device policies, file locking, and content version control, must take high priority.
  • Perform due diligence—Make sure you understand what your provider does and does not do to ensure security, and take a close look at liability and protection so you’ll know what steps you should take to minimize risk. Cloud providers typically cover their data centers and network, but organizations are also responsible for taking internal steps to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data.

Concerns about data safety can sometimes prevent organizations from realizing the many benefits of working in the cloud. Don’t let it happen to you. The reality is that nobody who operates online is completely safe from outside threats. Most businesses already send information outside the organization when they conduct routine payroll, benefits, and tax operations. If you’re considering a cloud-based HR software solution, weigh your security budget against the potential for economic damage and take the necessary steps to keep your data safe.

And then make the leap.

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BYOD: Friend or Foe of HR?

by Carolyn Sokol on August 15, 2016

BYOD Comes to WorkBYOB, or “bring your own booze,” began as a marketing ploy for small restaurants in the 1970s. These establishments were piggybacking on the hip, new trend of drinking wine with supper and were allowing patrons to bring their own bottles to get around paying the exorbitant fee for a liquor license. So we have the baby boomers to thank for college’s favorite acronym. Today, a similar philosophy of self-sufficiency is sweeping through America’s workplaces: “bring your own device,” or BYOD.

Advantages and Challenges of Open Technology Policies

BYOD is less of a trend than a new modus operandi, as 75 percent of companies already embrace the concept. Employers and employees alike report increased efficiency, streamlined work-life balance, and higher levels of overall satisfaction. Onboarding costs are also lower for new employees, as is the required budget for hardware expenses for remote workers. And God only knows how much money will be saved avoiding some major training costs.

Yet, although BYOD will surely bring about less hassle long-term, some companies are still working to overcome temporary, short-term hurdles. One of the major BYOD challenges current-ly facing HRIS, for example, is managing security concerns.

Creating a melting pot of different devices and operating systems initially complicates the job of an IT department. But aside from compatibility issues, personal devices also require the imple-mentation of new security protocols.

For example, password requirements for sensitive information can be harder to enforce. It is also difficult to regulate who sees and uses an employee’s personal device, especially if employees are able to take data off the device to be used on other, nonsecure devices like their cell phones or a cloud-based service like Dropbox. Additionally, use of personal devices over open WiFi networks makes them susceptible to hackers, and it is easier to target an individual computer than a company-wide network. That is why measures like encryptions and firewalls are so important.

It’s tempting to make a reference to the vulnerability of emails as another example, but we’ll leave politics out of this.

Questions for Your HRIS Provider and IT Manager

Some other questions HRIS providers may need to address include:

  • What happens if an employee loses his or her personal device?
  • When an employee leaves or is terminated, how can the company enforce a full reset of the device he or she used to access sensitive information?
  • What is the best way to consolidate private data and work data under one privacy protocol?
  • How can IT activate an emergency failsafe, and what exactly constitutes an emergency?

In addition to security, a diverse range of mobile device options also poses a challenge to accessibility. Now that people spend most of their online time on mobile devices, the design of HRIS user interfaces must be compatible across tablets and smartphones in addition to desktops. It must also provide the user with a similar experience across these different channels.

Experts agree that certain safeguards need to be in place to protect the integrity of sensitive da-ta itself, therefore mitigating the risks of personal devices altogether. Part of this involves con-firming the identity of the user before he or she is given access. In any case, the keys to effective transition to BYOD are clear policies and education. By encouraging responsible use and enforcing crucial rules, companies can best prepare themselves for the new standard.

BYOD is taking the business world by storm. Before you jump on board, talk to your HRIS provider about how to handle BYOD security and setup. If you’re ready for a new system, consider the software’s ability to handle a broad range of devices and operating systems to ensure a smooth transition.

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Ditch the Annual Review and Do This Instead

by Carolyn Sokol on August 10, 2016

Performance Management SolutionsThe generation gap between retiring baby boomers and up-and-coming millennials has created some unique challenges for HR. As the first generation that grew up with smartphones in their hands, millennials have high expectations for feedback, interaction, and collaboration. Add to that the trend toward team structure rather than top-down hierarchies and you get one of the top HR tech trends of the year: the reinvention of performance management.

Fortune magazine reports that, according to a recent study conducted by consulting firm Achievers, 98% of HR leaders no longer believe annual reviews are effective.

Ninety. Eight. Percent.

But they’re still the primary method of providing performance feedback to employees for the majority of businesses. Say what?

Why Annual Reviews Don’t Work Anymore

Workers want more frequent feedback so they can make course corrections immediately and managers want to see actual changes in employee behavior based on the feedback they receive. Unfortunately, annual reviews aren’t accomplishing either of those goals. Here are four reasons why:

  • They’re too subjective.
  • They don’t happen often enough.
  • They’re too long and require too much time to complete.
  • They link compensation to a performance rating.

As companies experience the friction caused by these obstacles, they begin looking for more agile processes that incorporate frequent feedback, coaching, and goal setting. But their HR software doesn’t always make process updates easy. Fortunately, that’s changing.

How HR Software Answers the Performance Management Challenge

As companies redesign their internal structure and review processes, HR software companies have stepped up to meet changing needs with more sophisticated review options, goal setting capabilities, in-system notifications, and broader feedback availability. Let’s look at some of the specific capabilities software solutions have incorporated to address common problems:

Problem #1: Subjective Evaluations

Subjectivity will always play a role in feedback because that’s the nature of the beast. Still, by inserting checks and balances into the review process, managers can create a better overall picture of the employee. Frequent peer feedback, self-evaluation, and manager evaluation help assessments hone in on specific strengths and weaknesses rather than general impressions. In addition, focusing on intentions (What would you do if Employee C told you she had another job offer?) rather than subjective statements of value (Is Employee C productive?) helps determine what employees and managers will actually do rather than how they feel.

Example: Bamboo HR incorporates a robust peer review process into their software platform. Managers can choose who supplies peer feedback for a particular employee and the software will automatically send reminders and track completed actions. By separating feedback from formal assessments, employees receive useful suggestions for improvement and managers can keep tabs on engagement over time.

Bamboo Peer Feedback

Problem #2: Infrequent Evaluations

Millennials, especially, want more frequent feedback that helps them be the best employees they can be without waiting till the end of the year when it’s already too late to change anything. More frequent evaluations go hand in hand with the shorter question structure above to create targeted, useful performance discussions throughout the year. Notifications, reminders, and completion alerts built into the software make this process easy to manage.
Goal setting is another way to promote self-regulation among employees while also providing concrete assessments based on how each employee performs on a given project.

Example: Ascentis allows employees to create goals within the software and provides notifications to keep them on track. They can also rate themselves, update details, and add feedback as each goal is completed.

Ascentis Goal Setting

Problem #3: Lengthy Evaluations

Lengthy annual evaluations result in rushed completion and less helpful data. One solution is to ask fewer questions, while making sure that each one seeks out targeted insight from both managers and employees. When feedback requests take only minutes to fill out, managers can do them anywhere, at any time—even from a mobile device on the go.

Example: Mobile access, such as this platform from Ascentis, makes it easier for managers to provide real-time, relevant feedback even when they’re not in the office.

Ascentis Mobile Access

Problem #4: Ratings Linked to Compensation

Paying for performance is not a bad deal. Top performers should see their effort reflected in their paycheck. But you don’t want to link those pay increases to an assessment rating, because ratings can be skewed and evaluations may not be candid. One way to solve this problem is to develop a richer solution for evaluating employee performance and engagement in order to identify top performers. With that data, companies can create performance policies that stipulate how to determine pay raises. In addition, this approach helps separate cost of labor adjustments (which need not be justified based on rankings) from performance-based raises.

Example: This graph from Bamboo HR’s employee performance module demonstrates how both performance and engagement can be rated across the organization, making more substantive comparisons possible.

Bamboo Performance Ranking

Getting the Most Value for Your Investment

HR software plays a huge role in developing better performance management, but it is not a silver bullet. Rich software features encourage companies to look at their processes and ask whether they take full advantage of the capabilities of the software. By aligning performance management goals with software potential, companies can create more engaged, more productive employees—and ditch the annual review.

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Goodbye Corporate Ladder, Hello Teams

by Susan McClure on August 4, 2016

Team Organizational StructureWatch any old black-and-white movie that depicts office scenes and you’ll see it: the stark difference between the corporate haves and have-nots. Plush offices, special perks, and absolute authority set top management apart from the working stiffs, with very little interaction and even less opportunity for recognition or collaboration. Fast forward to 2016 and for many companies, that scene is still all too familiar. But that’s about to change.

Quit Working Like It’s 1960

The hierarchical structure common in most businesses during the 20th century is gradually going the way of the dinosaur. According to new research conducted by Deloitte, more than 90% of businesses cite structural redesign as a key challenge, making it the top business trend of the year. Only 4% of the survey respondents said they had no plans to change.

That’s staggering.

What is going on in America’s offices and why do organizations feel the urgency to redesign the way employees interact at work? Josh Bersin, a key researcher in the field, believes we are entering a new era of management that focuses on bringing people together, developing employees, and promoting engagement. He describes this new emerging leadership style as a network of teams rather than the hierarchical or even collaborative management of the past. As management evolves, we will see greater emphasis on four primary organizational trends:

  • Shared values and culture
  • Transparent goals and projects
  • Feedback and free flow of information
  • Rewards based on contribution, not position

But perhaps a more pressing question is: why now? Why should organizations consider a team-based structure as opposed to the old school corporate ladder approach? Among the contributing factors are: the evolution of digital technology, enabling faster, better communication; the new mindset of younger workers who are looking for more collaboration, work-life balance opportunities, and growth potential; and information transparency in a social world where customers want to work with companies they trust.

And the benefit for businesses? Bersin suggests that employees will experience higher productivity and deeper engagement as managers align goals and inspire teamwork while also providing continuous feedback to address potential problems early.

How Organizational Changes Drive Trends in HR Software

In the HR software arena, we’ve seen strong trends toward better performance management options, social platforms, and mobile accessibility. The importance of culture and engagement is pushing companies to design their businesses as “collections of people” rather than top-down hierarchies. For that to work, there must be a way to encourage connections, deliver timely feedback, and promote the human side of HR. Software companies have responded to the challenge with deeper people solutions, including:

  • Feedback—Annual performance reviews are giving way to more frequent, less formal feedback, including peer reviews, self-evaluations, and manager evaluations. By providing feedback more often, companies can identify and address problems to keep team members on track.
  • Goal setting—Goal setting and coaching play a huge role in employee performance, especially for younger workers. HR software can make this easy by setting specific, measurable goals, creating a timeline for completion, incorporating alerts, and tracking achievements.
  • Social collaboration—From simple social networking to elaborate gamification solutions, social platforms give employees ways to connect and collaborate for projects, teams, and information-gathering.
  • Mobile access—As employees increasingly want to access work information outside the office, robust mobile functionality will become a necessity. And for companies who allow employees to use their own smartphones and tablets to access time management or update personal information, mobile apps are being designed to function across a wide variety of devices and operating systems.

The challenge for software providers is to develop solutions that speak to shifting team dynamics and behavioral economics, making it possible for organizations to facilitate the fluid movement of employees across teams rather than in a straight promotional line. Digital HR solutions of the future will be driven by analytics, changing workforce demographics, and demand for deeper engagement.

And lest we think the future is some vague, yet-to-be-defined time frame that requires no urgency, make no mistake. The future is now.

About the Author: Susan McClure is our new resident content marketer at compareHRIS.com. She will be writing about the search, selection, and implementation of HR technology, as well as HR outsourcing and general employment issues. When she isn’t writing, you might find her browsing shelves at the library, exploring a local hiking trail, or digging in the garden with her family and fur kids.

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Compliance Headaches? Your HRIS Can Help

by Susan McClure on August 2, 2016

HRIS help for compliance2016 has been a learning year for many companies when it comes to compliance and reporting. Unfortunately, that learning curve may carry stiff penalties and fines with it if companies fail to meet mandated requirements. The stark reality is that many companies simply don’t have the technology infrastructure in place to gather and compile necessary data for reporting and filing.

 

Reporting Challenges

Even among companies with an HRIS in place, the requirements associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime rule have introduced new dynamics that left many scrambling to gather needed data. For those without the right technology, reporting and filing can appear to be nearly insurmountable challenges.

The good news is that the right HRIS can help you address those issues and take the guesswork out of the reporting process. Let’s look at five of the top reporting challenges facing companies this year:

  • Data integration—Integrating data across payroll, benefits, timekeeping, and personnel records can be a expensive and labor intensive, especially if your system wasn’t set up to handle the necessary flow of information.
  • Generating reports—Generating 1094 and 1095 forms in preparation for filing will require extensive effort if modules aren’t integrated to track the right data and generate reports based on that data.
  • Employee classification—Misclassifying employees can lead to problems with the IRS, whether the error is intentional or not. You need a reliable way to track full-time vs. part-time employees and to correctly classify contractors.
  • Tracking overtime exemptions—The new FLSA overtime rule will be a game-changer for many employees. Now is the time to prepare your organization by evaluating current employees and their status as well as ensuring that you have a reliable timekeeping solution that tracks hours and type of work.
  • Tracking employee health coverage—Accurate ACA reporting will require companies to track employee healthcare benefits, determine which employees have opted for alternative healthcare solutions, and ensure that the correct information is in place for tax filing.

Compliance Made Easy

One of the most effective things you can do to protect yourself from compliance problems is choose an HRIS that has been built to help you prepare for filing and reporting in accordance with the new requirements. Look for a system that:

  • Tracks FTE’s—Keep track of FTE’s effortlessly when your software system automatically calculates status based on hours reported in the timekeeping module.
  • Offers affordable integration—Whether you choose a best of breed or single source ERP solution, look for one that integrates data seamlessly across all modules. There are pros and cons to each type of system, but both offer affordable options depending on the needs of your business.
  • Generates required reports automatically—Not all software systems have addressed the issue of ACA reporting effectively. Look for one that accurately generates the right reports to eliminate filing errors.
  • Automates the collection of needed data—Employee information, healthcare coverage, time and attendance, and other relevant data should be collected automatically, streamlining the process of generating and distributing necessary reports.
  • Can handle employee data across multiple locations—If you operate in multiple states or countries, look for an HRIS that can handle the specific reporting requirements of each location. While ACA and FLSA standards will be the same nationwide, other regulations may differ from state to state. Global organizations will need a solution that can manage region-specific regulations for every country in which they operate.

Compliance issues can eat up time and money if you don’t have the technology in place to manage them. But with a comprehensive HRIS solution designed to address those issues, you can streamline data collection, reporting, and filing to eliminate your compliance headaches this season.

Ready for a new system? Our HRIS comparison tool gives you an unbiased look at how different software systems measure up to your business requirements.

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Global HR SoftwareOperating in the global marketplace has become more common with the advent of cloud computing and better communication technology. Global business isn’t just for Fortune 500 companies anymore. Smaller organizations can operate internationally as well, but doing so will require strategic planning to create the necessary infrastructure. One way to make that process easier is to choose HR software that has been built to accommodate global operations.

Operating on a Global Scale Brings Unique HR Challenges

Hiring and doing business in another country requires extensive preparation across the board, and HR is no exception. Managing an international workforce means understanding the laws, regulations, and employment terms unique to each region. Some of the challenges you will face include:

  • Payroll—Your HR system must be conversant in alternate forms of currency, address constructions, social insurance numbers, and tax requirements.
  • Benefits—Insurance, maternity/paternity leave, paid time off, and pension requirements vary from country to country based on the statutory legislation of each location. What constitutes an attractive benefit package in one country may not meet minimum requirements in another.
  • Compensation—Compensation isn’t just a matter of translating your standard offerings into the local currency. You’ll also need to understand the local wage market to avoid offering either extremely low or extremely high compensation for that market.
  • Safety regulations—Worker safety is often heavily regulated, but specific requirements will differ from region to region.
  • Recruiting—Recruiting approaches will differ based on location, and will be affected by local internet access, language, and available advertising media. You’ll also need a way to track applicants across multiple languages, interview each candidate either locally or remotely, and comply with local notice period requirements.

Choosing the Right Software Can Prepare the Way for Global Success

As you prepare to launch an international location for your business, HR software that has been designed to incorporate global data will smooth the way for efficient implementation. For example, Kronos offers multinational workforce management solutions that include country-specific guidelines for meeting the local requirements of each country. These solutions are designed to address the challenges above, and may include:

  • Global assessments to ensure compliance with regional legislative, union, and other requirements
  • Global deployment teams to standardize deployment across different countries
  • Single source management of all the data for your international workforce
  • Built-in language and currency flexibility
  • Payroll options
  • Global network of system integrators to ensure a successful launch

If there’s one constant in business, it’s change. As technology makes our world smaller, companies will need to meet international demand head-on. Internationally compliant HR software makes it possible to address the challenges of doing business across the globe while also lowering your total cost of software ownership with integrated solutions.

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Which software is right for you?Over the past decade, the demand for integrated HR solutions has spurred HR software companies to develop new ways to address the problems that crop up when integrating modules from multiple vendors. One of the trends we’re seeing is a push for better, faster, more cost effective integration, whether that’s through a best of breed solution or a single database system.

As both the economy and the talent landscape shift over time, many companies need solutions that will provide better value at lower cost. The question they must ask with regard to their software is: Are we getting the best value for our investment?

Best of Breed

Best of breed software gives companies the best available solution for every module, often providing deeper functionality and greater flexibility for individual elements without locking users into a single vendor for every need. In addition, they often utilize more evolved technology and easier implementation for individual components. Three of the most commonly cited drawbacks associated with best of breed software include cost of integration, data integrity, and vendor management. Let’s take a look at each one:

  • Cost of integration—Because it incorporates multiple vendors and implementation processes, best of breed software usually comes with a high cost of integration. Cloud software has made it possible to lower those costs, however, and as the technology matures providers are optimistic that more affordable solutions will become available.
  • Data integrity—Data integrity isn’t just an integration issue. Integrity problems can happen for many reasons including faulty data collection or data entry, weak algorithms, and lack of standardized processes. Integration does play a role, however, as data must be standardized across multiple modules and vendors. Reputable SaaS providers work hard to eliminate integration problems among their extensive partner lists, making integrity breaches as a result of faulty integration rare.
  • Vendor management—When you work with multiple vendors, you will have more relationships to manage, which requires a greater investment of time and resources. That investment can be worth it, however, when it leads to better quality of service and more efficient software.

Daniel Dean, Senior Product Marketing Manager at BambooHR, encourages companies to know their needs and understand the value offered by a best of breed solution. “What we’re seeing is that customers want a solution that not only integrates data across modules, but also delivers the highest performance. And, while the cost of integration is still a very real barrier in terms of adopting a best of breed approach, the goal should always be to help customers find the best solution.” said Dean.

The advent of cloud computing has made it easier than ever for best of breed providers to meet that goal by delivering a high-value software solution while also managing costs.

Single-Source ERP

Single-source ERP solutions emerged as companies increasingly demanded integrated software at lower cost. ERP systems facilitate information flow across modules with the goal of increasing efficiency, decreasing costs, and maintaining integrity across HR functions. They also provide efficient employee management using a centralized solution and consistent user interface. However, they aren’t without drawbacks:

  • Loss of flexibility—Single-source solutions don’t give users the flexibility to choose a vendor that specializes in their specific needs. If the ERP is weak in one area, companies may still have to purchase an add-on module to access deeper functions that the ERP can’t provide. However, ERP providers work hard to ensure that their solutions do meet pressing client needs while still offering the ability to customize according to company culture and processes.
  • The Suck Threshold—In business terms, the “suck threshold” is the point at which a solution loses value or quality because it’s trying to do too much. As the scope of offerings increases, quality may decrease. The good news, however, is that reputable ERP providers emphasize both depth of functionality and broad scope. Their goal is to give clients a unified solution that will perform consistently.
  • Technology constrictions—When you invest in an ERP, you automatically limit your technology options. If your business approach is technology agnostic, you may be dissatisfied with a single technology source. However, if you are less concerned about seeking out the latest technology and place greater value on a solution that integrates and flows seamlessly, an ERP system may be the best option.

One example of a comprehensive ERP solution is Ultimate Software’s UltiPro. UltiPro seeks to offer broad HCM functionality at low cost. By offering payroll, recruiting, benefits administration, time management, onboarding, and more all in one place, UltiPro can provide a consistent user experience and global system of record, making it easy to track all of the numerous elements of employee management.

Which Option is Right for You?

As you consider which software to purchase for your business, you’ll need to take a long, hard look at the your company needs and values. Ask specific questions about usability issues, functionality needs, and business processes to define the specific requirements you’re looking for in a software solution. When you have your requirements list in hand, the software selection tool at CompareHRIS.com will help you compare and contrast available software systems that match your requirements.

Best of breed and ERP systems each have unique benefits to offer. Your decision will ultimately depend on where your pain points are and which system best addresses those needs.

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Harness the Power of Social Media On the Job

by CompareHRIS on July 5, 2016

employee social media useSocial media has become one of the dominating factors of this decade. According to studies conducted by Pew Research Center, 65% of all American adults interact on at least one social platform. Among those between the ages of 18 and 29, that number jumps to 90%.

We live in a social world and we don’t set that habit aside when we clock in for work. Nearly half of workers believe that social tools increase their productivity on the job.

But do they really?

Employees use social media for many reasons, including taking a mental break from work, networking with those outside their organization, consulting experts about job-related tasks, finding information they need to perform their jobs, and getting to know co-workers.

Employee social media habitsSource: Pew Research Social Media and the Workplace 2016

All of these scenarios can help workers do their jobs better, but the challenge is keeping employees engaged in their work and preventing the mental drift that can easily occur as you scroll mindlessly through a feed. Some HR software providers are seeking to address this problem by integrating social solutions into their software suite.

Social Media Goes to Work

Social engagement can take many different forms, and companies will have to consider carefully which platforms work best in the culture of their company. One solution is to provide an internal message board similar to Facebook where colleagues can interact with one another.

Here’s an example of this type of platform from Criterion HCM:

Employee social interaction platform
In this example, the social aspect appears in the employee self-service portal. Employees can check calendars, documents, action items, reports, and messages all in one place. Companies can set up unique communities and add members based on position or responsibilities, enabling close collaboration for projects, sales teams, individual locations, management teams, call centers, and other groups within the organization. One key benefit of this solution is that employees can interact with one another informally without being sucked into Facebook.

Social Incentives Make Work Engaging

In addition to social interaction platforms like Criterion’s, some companies also want to add a competitive flavor to employee engagement. Software solutions may incorporate goals, badges, and leaderboards that can be implemented on an individual basis or encourage competition among teams. For deeper interaction, comprehensive gamification platforms can integrate job performance with interaction while capitalizing on employees’ natural competitive spirit.

Demand for social interaction platforms at work is rising, a trend we noticed in our interaction with software vendors at SHRM 2016. The knee-jerk reaction of banning social media during work hours may not be effective for younger workers, especially those in high-demand fields where talent competition is fierce. As social media continues to shape our culture, we see many software vendors rising to the challenge with forward-thinking solutions designed to capitalize on the shift toward collaboration and interaction.

It’s a trend that isn’t going away. How will your business respond?

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mentorship program

Companies leading the way when it comes to building engaging workplaces typically do three things better than others: they offer employee development, they build a culture of open communication, and they make use of employee data. Encouraging employee development has to do with providing access to training and making employees feel like they have space to grow; open communication relates to the way senior figures interact with their staff; and employee data has to do with the provision of HR software.

There may not be a way to solve all of these engagement issues with a single company initiative, but a mentoring program certainly comes close.

Why Are Mentoring Programs Uncommon?

Corporate mentoring is rare – according to a recent survey, just one in every three employees around the world has been part of a mentoring program, despite 83 percent of those surveyed saying they would benefit.

But whilst the majority may agree mentoring is generally a good thing, in practice, setting up a successful mentoring program is not so easy.

Just take the senior employee’s viewpoint: becoming a mentor can seem like a huge chore, which, if it’s pitched like a corporate scheme, may seem to offer them little personal benefit. What if, instead, it was presented as a voluntary opportunity for personal development? This change in tone makes the case for becoming a mentor much stronger, but few organisations are able to successfully communicate its value in this way.

Here are some tips to ensure your mentoring program is practical, uses the right HR tools, and actually improves employee engagement and performance.

Building an Effective Mentoring Program with HR Software

There are three things that define a good mentoring programme: effective matching, effective goal setting, and ongoing peer feedback.

Mentor matching

Matching protégés to managers is the first big hurdle. Protégés will too often want mentors with the most impressive titles, rather than the person who might be best suited to help them in their career path. Whilst intuition plays a part in the matching process, using data for automated matching often proves to be far more successful. Algorithmic approaches to matching range from basic filtering to robust, machine-learning processes, based on people analytics. And beyond matching, good mentoring software can gather information, dynamically survey, track outcomes, and learn to improve future matching.

Goal setting

Protégés may have a few vague ideas about where they see themselves in the future, but they need clear goals and expectations if they want to avoid mentoring sessions becoming nothing more than a talking exercise. HR software and data can come in useful here. For example, talking points could be raised based on common issues people face at similar points in their careers. This clearly will rely on an extensive pool of aggregated learning and development figures (something that vendors like Everwise are able to provide).

Peer feedback

During the mentorship program, protégés shouldn’t only be in touch with their assigned mentor, but should seek council from others, like program managers and colleagues. A good way to encourage this is via 360 feedback surveys – a type of anonymised peer feedback that can provide guidance, and also advance their goal definition. It’s good for employees to get feedback on their progress and to feel like the program is leading them in the right direction.

Conclusion

Mentoring programs, when setup with the right people and software, can offer an all-round solution to the three cases of employee disengagement outlined in the introduction. Mentors are the guides that facilitate career developments, they are the senior figures that can break down perceived barriers to communication, and they leverage data to make all of this happen successfully. It’s about time more organisations got on board!

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HR Software Highlights from SHRM16

by CompareHRIS on June 29, 2016

SHRM2016I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to attend SHRM 2016 in Washington, D.C. last week. As the largest HR conference in the world, SHRM 2016 hosted thousands of participants and more than 600 exhibitors showcasing products across numerous categories including HRIS, testing, compensation and benefits, health and safety, HR consulting, and many more.

Descending the escalator onto the exhibition floor at my first SHRM conference, I felt like a worker bee entering a busy hive of HR awesomeness. In addition to networking and learning about the many different products on the market, the conference made it possible to meet several of our vendors face to face and learn more about the unique features of their software.

Here are some of the top software trends I gleaned from the Exposition Hall:

1. Performance Management

I spoke with Daniel Dean from BambooHR, a software solution designed for small to medium businesses, about what he sees as the primary challenge companies experience with performance management software. He told me that one of the keys to better performance management is optimizing the components to be more engaging and less subjective.

For example, rather than asking an employee to rate their satisfaction with their job, a survey question might ask how likely they are to remain in their current position. Shorter surveys conducted more frequently tend to yield better responses than lengthy surveys conducted at widely spaced intervals.

Takeaway: Performance management and employee engagement must work hand-in-hand.

2. Cloud Vs. Hosted Vs. On-Premise

Cloud HRIS is the wave of the future, and many vendors don’t offer on-premise options anymore. However, there are still industries and businesses that want an on-premise solution or a less public hosting option than cloud provides. Special thanks to Jeanne Eberly and Jeff  Brady from PDS who spoke with me about the various options and outlined circumstances in which each might be beneficial.

Takeaway: Cloud is awesome, but it’s not right for everyone.

3. ACA Compliance

 When you shop for HR software, make sure it has ACA compliance tools built into the functionality. Most solutions do, but some deliver better results than others. Some offer compliance and reporting as part of the package, while others may charge an additional fee. Software should monitor the size of your organization based on number of full-time employees (FTEs) and calculate the number of FTEs. It should also be able to meet new reporting requirements, capture benefit and eligibility information, generate 1095 forms, and transmit data at year-end.

At Criterion’s booth, Steve Kuhn walked me through the capabilities of their software and demonstrated how these functionalities integrate across modules for a seamless user experience.

Takeaway: ACA reporting is a must-have for today’s HRIS systems.

4. Social Interaction

Our culture’s social media addiction has created employees who crave interaction with others at work. Studies show that worker productivity and morale increase when employees are allowed to engage with social media, but many companies don’t want to provide open access to Facebook and Twitter on the job.

The solution for many is an internal social network that gives employees a mental break while still keeping them connected to their jobs as they interact about current projects. UltiPro, for example, offers a collaborative social network that facilitates cross-functional interaction to keep employees engaged and also captures performance management info.

Takeaway: Social platforms provide opportunities for employees to engage within the context of company culture.

These are just a few of the trends I heard about from the many vendors at SHRM 2016. What were your top takeaways from the Exposition Hall?

 

About the Author: Susan McClure is our new resident content marketer at compareHRIS.com. She will be writing about the search, selection, and implementation of HR technology, as well as HR outsourcing and general employment issues. When she isn’t writing, you might find her researching online marketing trends, browsing shelves at the library, or digging in the garden with her family and fur kids. 

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