Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Focusing on employee relations in the recession is a cheap means to boosting profitability.

During tough economic times, it’s usually the most abstract aspects of a business that get trimmed to save money and streamline business. Such can be the case with employee relations, an element of business that often is taken for granted.
But experts and analysts warn that owners and operators should not only be sparing their employee-relations programs during this recession, they should be strengthening them. Solid, consistent employee relations are fundamental to a restaurant’s success, and during these fiscally dour times, these programs may make all the difference.
Jackie Wells Smith is the publisher of Your Employee Handbook and a former human resources executive and consultant of 25 years. She says fostering positive employee relations is the single most important area owners and operators should focus on, especially in the small-business sector. Not only does it improve productivity, but it may also address larger problems occurring at a restaurant.
“In my experience, lack of attention to employee relations is usually the source of whatever problems [an owner or operator] is having,” Smith says. “If they have retention problems, turnover problems, problems with frequent accidents, I generally find that the source of it was always the same place: Employees were unhappy with their jobs.”
Restaurant consultant David Scott Peters, founder of Smile Button Enterprises, says that most quick-service managers have an overly simplistic understanding of why employees are discontented with their jobs, which breeds an even more simplistic understanding of what their happiness looks like.
Even more important than fostering positive morale, Peters says managers need to give employees a sense of how their performance will be measured. The absence of that understanding breeds displeasure, and that, in turn, leads to poor performance.
“I believe there are five major reasons why your employees leave you, and the first three are critical,” Peters says. “They don’t know what they’re supposed to do, they don’t know how to do what they’re supposed to do, and they don’t know how well it’s supposed to be done.”
This, Peters says, is yet another example of underestimating the importance of employee relations. It all begins with management clearly communicating to the employee what his or her goals are, and what will be the measurements of their success. If each staff member knows the “what, how, and how well” of his position, he will be more self-motivated on the job.
“The games, the manager bonuses, the prize incentives, they’re all great. And they may create a new behavior for the time being,” Peters says. “But they don’t change and motivate everyone. The key is creating an atmosphere that motivates. If you don’t have the fundamentals down, none of that warm and fuzzy, one-minute-manager stuff will work.”
Dan Simons is co-founder of Vucurevich|Simons Advisory Group, a hospitality and restaurant consulting firm that works with chains like Fuddruckers and Terra Burger. He, too, believes employee relations is the area to which owners and operators should first look if they are needing to boost profitability.
“Human performance is directly related to human emotion,” Simons says. “You simply cannot separate your restaurant’s culture from your profitability. If I have a client with a food cost problem, I start with their employee relations. How do they feel? How do they look? Do they have pride in their appearance? The self esteem and the pride of the employees translate in measurable ways.”
But fostering that culture of profitability has less to do with nurturing the egos and emotions of one’s employees and more to do with creating an atmosphere where high performance and efficiency are expected and rewarded. Simons says that too often, owners and operators talk about the workplace culture in terms of being soft and caring and possessing good listening skills. But that’s just the surface.
“I’m talking about a high-performance environment that inspires people and holds people accountable to give their best,” Simons says. “Humans play to the level of the competition, and the boss has to set the bar high.”
In addition to setting clear employee expectations, owners and operators can also encourage a culture of high performance by making sure each staff member feels important to the overall operation. This is something that restaurant consultant Ron Wilkinson says is often overlooked in the realm of employee relations.

The Need For Employer– Employee Relationship

Employee relations or industrial relations as it is commonly referred to as is a discipline that covers the relationship of employees with the organisation and with each other. Industrial relations is concerned with anticipating, addressing and diffusing workplace issues that may interfere with an organisation’s business objectives, as also with resolving disputes between  an among management and employees. It includes the processes of analysing the employer –employee relationship; ensuring that relations with employees comply with applicable central and local laws and regulations; and resolving workplace disputes. Industrial relations touch all aspects of labour such as union policies, personnel policies and practices including wages, welfare, social security, service conditions, supervision and communications, collective bargaining; attitude of management, trade unions and Government action on labor matters. The practice of counselling, disciplining and terminating employees falls within the domain of this discipline. India is being rapidly transformed from a state-driven economy into a market-driven economy committed to privatization, liberalization, and globalization. At the regional level, the states are forced to enter the rat race of liberalization among them to attract funds for investment and development. Owing to this fact India has seen a rise in misunderstandings and conflict of interest, particularly between the employer and the employee over industrial issues which can’t be easily resolved. It is of vital concern to all in the society, viz., management, workers, shareholders, Government, creditors, consumers, suppliers and the general public as well. With the rise of trade unions as powerful organizations, the conflict between labour and management often gets intensified, and this results in strikes, lockouts and other industrial disturbances.
                                                                                         by Sarthak Daing

Walmart’s Latest Employee-Relations Debacle

A Kemptville, Ontario, Walmart employee was fired  this week after urging a customer to not leave his dog in his car while he shopped. The story quickly grew legs and amounts to yet another PR black eye for the company. 
Walmart had enjoyed a wave of decent PR for a while, but now it finds itself back in a defensive posture–both because of this incident and also for other employee-relations horror stories that play to a now-familiar narrative.  In fact, it’s hard to stay on top of all the negative stories about the big-box retailer. However, this particular story might have been avoided had the company weighed its options more carefully and recognized the value of quality employee-relations.
The lesson for PR pros is to think ahead. That may seem to be a simple notion, but when you dive into Walmart’s handling of the situation, it seems clear that management responded in a knee-jerk fashion.
The employee admits that she directly addressed the customer who allegedly left his dog in the car. She also indicates that the customer responded with anger and claimed that he would not shop at the store again. Later that day the she was called into her manager’s office and told that such issues should be taken up with him directly. Unsatisfied with this solution, she instead declared that the next time she would contact the police. Following that statement, she alleges, she was terminated.
The manager was correct to ask his employee to openly communicate troublesome situations with management, and to avoid confronting the company’s stakeholders directly. Where he arguably went wrong was in terminating an employee who was acting on a humane impulse—rather than exploring alternative solutions or council from human resources. Not only that, but the manager’s decision to let his employee go helps reaffirm a popular narrative that Walmart cares considerably more about its bottom line than its employees.
Walmart (and others) should consider ahead of time how actions can impact reputation. And that goes for a company's entire personnel—from a store greeter all the way up to the CEO.

9 tips how to Develop an Employee Engagement Programs

together some helpful tips Human Resources professionals should keep in mind when it comes to engagement programs:
1) There is no magic formula. Enough said here.
2) Each employer's idea of engagement and how to bring it about is different. Respect that what may work at another company, may not be the right fit for yours. Understand, and be true to your culture.
3) Determine what are the key drivers of engagement at your organization. Whether through employee opinion surveys or walking the halls, determine what drives employee engagement at your company. Is it work/life balance, compensation, career paths and personal growth? Having this information will help guide your efforts and focus.
4) Alignment. Make sure your programs, the messages, and actions are aligned with the business strategy.
5) Measure, measure, measure. Have the data ready to show how the programs are working (or not). Make sure it answers some of the following questions:
a. How are the initiatives making a difference? 
b. Has turnover been reduced? By how much?
c. Has your engagement scores improved? By how much?
d. Has your time-to-fill been reduced due to increased applicants?
e. How do these statistics impact the bottom line?
6) Be Flexible, be adaptable. Understand that sometimes the one constant is change. What may be the strategy today can change in an instant tomorrow with new leadership, as a result of economic changes, competition and the like.
7) Communicate. Do not make the assumption that the whole organization knows what you are working on when it comes to engagement programs. Communicate constantly, hold small information sessions or Town Halls to introduce new programs.
8) Don't lose momentum. Once you start the engagement initiatives keep them going. Build upon the buzz and the energy. Also once rolled out, revisit your programs periodically to keep them fresh and updated.
9) Get Buy In! I cannot stress this enough. The issue of buy in came up time and again over the course of the conference and programs that have succeeded were those that had buy in from the senior most executives and business unit heads before embarking on these initiatives.
Every company is on a quest to attract, retain, and motivate a high performing team. How we each achieve this may take different paths respecting what makes each of our companies unique. But just remember that no matter where in the world you may be, or in what industry, you are not alone in your quest to build engagement.

India on top in 'employer-employee relationships'

A new survey has found that the "positive relationship" between the staff and management has increased in countries like India and China, whereas Australia dropped four places to take the 13th spot on the list.
According to ORC International's annual workplace engagement index, just under half (48 percent) of Australian workers reported a positive relationship this year, which is 6 percent less than last year, reported.
The survey conducted on almost 10,000 workers surveyed them on their attitude towards their organisation, as well as whether they felt a sense of loyalty towards their job and whether they were willing to go beyond their usual duties to help their organisation to achieve its goals.
The survey found that while India and China's rankings jumped by at least eight places from last year's survey, to occupy the top two places on the list of 18 countries, merely 38 percent of Australian employees said their manager inspired them to be effective in their job.
Countries with a lower percentage of positive relationships between the staff and management than the global average of 53 percent, occupied the seven lowest spots on ORC's Employee Engagement Index (EEI)
ORC International's Global Engagement Index for 2014:
1. India
2. China
3. Brazil
4. Switzerland
5. USA
6. Austria
7. Canada
8. Netherlands
9. Germany
10. Russia
11. Singapore
12. Italy
13. Australia
14. Spain
15. France
16. Hong Kong
17. UK
18. Japan (ANI)

The Stories That Impacted HR in 2014

HR trends, identify the most popular content and provide a unique and real-time look into what’s happening in the HR marketplace.
So without further delay, here is a selection of the hot HR topics throughout 2014:


Continuing the trend from 2013, flexible working was a hot topic, as there was significant growth in companies hiring remote workers and offering expanded telecommuting policies. Driving the spike in the topic was one of the most popular articles for the month of January — Telecommuting Is The Future of Work, by Meghan M. Biro. And we continued to see the topics of remote workers, telework and flexible working popular throughout the year.


When the president of the United States gives his annual State of the Union address, the ideas and plans he announces impact HR trends. Two topics President Obama talked about relating to the world of work — equal pay and retirement savings — spiked after his speech. He announced a new “myRA plan” to allow lower income workers to enroll in a new retirement savings plan.


EmployeeAppreciationDay_2014Employee appreciation and employee motivation were top trends as Employee Appreciation Day was recognized on March 7, 2014, and many vendors and HR bloggers took advantage by putting out content on how and why to show appreciation to employees, like this post from Blogging4Jobs. Plus, workplace wellness vendor Virgin Pulse released its U.S. employee survey, which revealed some fascinating insights about how employees really feel about their employers. The results also provided some ideas in what works to motivate employees – it’s not massage chairs or nap rooms.


Two independent surveys released this month focused on the issue of workplace stress. Monster Worldwide’s survey revealed how commonly stress at work causes employees to look for new jobs — a whopping 42% have left jobs due to stress. And a Harris Interactive survey looked at the causes of workplace stress — low pay and long commutes topped the list.


The big topic, and one that continued for several more months, was HR Certification. SHRM’s announcement that it would be launching its own certification program, in direct competition with the longstanding HRCI, was like“dropping a bomb on the HR community,” John Hollon of TLNT stated. And the ripple effects are still being felt.

Working Families SummitJune

Paid leave became a trending topic following the White House Summit on Working Families. The summit put a spotlight on paid parental leave, as well as other issues impacting working families. It is well documented that the United States is the only industrialized nation to not provide paid parental leave.


The Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby caused the topics of contraception mandate, health insurance coverage and Affordable Care Act to spike. However, in spite of the overwhelming media coverage of the decision, some experts in the HR space wrote that the impact on employers would be limited.


The topic of job growth typically spikes once each month with the release of the monthly U.S. jobs report. However, this month the focus was on the increase in higher-paying jobs over lower-paying ones — a good sign for the economy.
And the release of PwC’s Future of Work Report drove the workforce analytics trend. The report revealed that 30% of employees would allow their employers to access personal data such as social media profiles. Doing so could expand employers’ access to new data to analyze performance, productivity and motivation.


Living wage was trending as the United States celebrated Labor Day and the debate on raising the minimum wage carried on. Additionally, in spite of President Obama not getting workforce-related legislation passed through Congress, he brought about changes through executive orders and new rules such as establishing a living wage requirement for federal contractors. Some HR thought leaders opined that this new policy, which impacts nearly one-quarter of the private sector workforce, will eventually filter through the rest of corporate America.


The topic of remote workers spiked again after Reddit announced all of its remote workers had to relocate to its headquarters or be fired. But in spite of this policy change, the growth in telework/flexible working arrangements remained strong.
And another consistently hot topic — equal pay — spiked following a major gaffe by Microsoft’s CEO. Satya Nadella apologized after his comment stating that women should not ask for raises caused a serious backlash. At the same time Gallup released survey results revealing that 30% of Americans think equal pay is the top issue for working women.


Open enrollment was hot in part due to the U.S. Affordable Care Act’s health insurance website launching its second open enrollment season. The launch featured significantly fewer problems than the initial launch.
Veteran’s Day / Remembrance Day pushed the veteran employment trend in November, with new data revealing significant growth in the hiring of veterans over the past year.


With the holiday season in full swing, the topic of employee rewards has trended as voices weighed in on how to best recognize and reward employees during this busy and often stressful time of year.
And wage growth spiked as new stats out of the U.S. and the U.K. revealed very different perspectives on what’s happening in regard to wages in these two countries. In the U.S. they appear to be on the rise, while in the U.K. they experienced a decline.