By Alison Nelson, Account Manager
Everyone loves summer, but Alaskans REALLY love summer. And who can blame us? After a grueling winter the sunshine is a welcome reprieve to us all. However, employers in Alaska face a unique challenge every year when the snow melts – how to keep employees inside and working.
RISQ Consulting is no exception to this, and, after years of employees bombarding the leadership team with requests to close early whenever it was remotely sunny, a solution was formed. Every Friday, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, RISQ closes at noon. This allows employees to enjoy more of the all-too-short Alaskan summer and the accompanying sunshine!
Not only does this perk boost morale, but it also increases productivity due to something known as Parkinson’s Law.
Parkinson’s Law: ‘Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’
According to this article “Parkinson’s Law was introduced in 1955 by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as part of a tongue-in-cheek essay in the Economist and was based on his experiences with the very slow workings of the British Civil Service.
The main idea described by the law is that, if being given a week to complete a task then, psychologically, the task will expand to fill the time.”
In other words, when the workweek is shortened by half a day, we compensate by increasing productivity. Closing early on Fridays also makes sense from a strategic perspective. According to this article by Forbes, Fridays are the least productive day with employees only completing 16.7% of their tasks.
Aside from being a good strategic move, half-day Fridays give employees something to look forward to. The team here at RISQ Consulting is already counting down to half-day Fridays and the excitement is practically palpable. Closing early is a significant benefit and is great for employee retention.
Would you consider implementing this at your business?
This article is from RISQ Consulting’s Zywave client portal, a resource available to all RISQ Consulting clients. Please contact your Benefits Consultant or Account Executive for more information or for help setting up your own login.
Businesses of all sizes are currently facing attraction and retention challenges. Successful efforts to win over employees can require an investment of time and carry high costs. Unfortunately, small businesses often don’t have an excess of resources to invest in attraction and retention efforts in today’s worker-friendly labor market.
In what’s been labeled as the “great resignation,” an increasing number of employees are leaving jobs not only for better compensation and benefits but also to prioritize desires such as flexible work arrangements or career development opportunities. Losing an employee is particularly costly for small businesses, impacting both attraction and retention. Along with costs associated with recruiting, hiring and training a replacement, the employee that left was likely a key contributor in the smaller environment, potentially leading to a significant impact on the operations and culture of a workplace.
Amid these labor obstacles, smaller employers should focus on what’s feasible. Often, small employers have the agility to respond to the employment market with new strategies. This article highlights some attraction and retention tips for small businesses.
Select the Right Benefits
According to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, small firms are less likely to offer health insurance versus businesses with more employees. Health insurance is valued highly by workers who often don’t have access to this coverage, which often includes part-time employees, those in the service sector—and workers employed by small businesses. Thus, for small businesses, even simply offering packages that include health care can offer a competitive edge against those that don’t.
Health insurance is just one component to consider as part of a benefits package, and small businesses should tailor their offerings to meet the specific demands of current and prospective employees. One way to start this process is by surveying employees on what types of benefits would interest them the most and then using that data to inform benefits decisions. The best benefits to offer will vary in each small business depending on the needs of the workforce—but they can be leveraged to attract and attain the right employees.
Revamp Recruiting, Hiring and Onboarding Practices
Small businesses often have limited resources when it comes to recruiting, hiring and onboarding, so it’s important to be as efficient as possible. These restraints may include insufficient financial resources to put into these practices—but also a lack of time. Often, it’s an owner, manager or lone HR professional who also takes on recruiting duties. However, a thorough review of the current status of these practices may uncover ways to create improvements.
Leveraging technology is one way to improve these practices. The good news for smaller employers is that many tools available today are relatively feasible to set up—even for a team of one— and often cost-effective.
Employers can consider using tools such as an applicant tracking system that collects and stores candidate resumes and helps automate common recruiting and onboarding tasks. To further ease the onboarding process, employers could consider leveraging cloud-based and digital tools designed to help manage the process for completing Form I-9 or direct deposit, which can be tedious for both the new hire and the employer.
By improving these processes, employers can reduce costs, and recruiting efforts can focus on finding new employees rather than dealing with tedious tasks. Every employer will be at a different place in terms of their existing processes and their current operational challenges, but a best practice to get started is to focus on what the current pain points are and how they can be improved.
Expand Recruiting Reaches
If an employer isn’t receiving the number of quality job candidates they desire, it’s worth strategizing to grow this pool. A good starting point for small businesses looking to grow their recruiting reach is to expand their online presence. This may include creating and maintaining multiple online profiles, posting content regularly and educating prospective workers about job opportunities. If limited by time, it’s OK to focus on managing one or two key profiles. It’s best to pick a platform where potential employees may likely be and focus on developing an active presence—even if it just means putting in a few minutes per day.
Employers can also focus on managing how potential candidates view their employer brand—or reputation as an employer. While small businesses may not have as developed an employer brand as their larger competitors, they may have more agility to establish—or revamp—their branding. An example of this could be to focus on highlighting the core values and impact of their organization. Surveys find that a majority of employees are more likely to work for an organization with values that align with their own.
These illustrate a few ways small employers today are expanding their reach into the employment market. Ideally, the right strategies can lead to more passive recruiting leads and improved efforts to attract employees.
Focus on Developing Employees
Attraction and retention challenges aren’t always about bringing enough employees through the doors—today, many small businesses face skills gaps. In fact, a survey in 2020 from GetApp found that one in five small businesses cited a lack of employee skills as the single biggest challenge they faced in response to COVID-19. For example, an employer’s workforce might lack the skills to use technology effectively. These gaps could also exist with soft skills, such as communication abilities or emotional intelligence. While a solution to this may be to recruit for specific skills to close these gaps, existing employees are often overlooked. While recruiting for talent with desirable skills may require significant resources, small businesses should also consider how they can bridge these gaps in-house.
Small businesses generally won’t need to develop skills for large groups, so it’s a good idea to focus on individualized learning. Some ideas or opportunities include providing career pathing plans, creating mentorship programs, offering microlearning workshops to focus on a specific skill, or paying for employees to attain certifications or further their education outside of the workplace.
Learning and development efforts can not only help employers address skills gaps; they can help employers retain existing employees and even attract new ones. Surveys find that employees are more likely to stay with an employer if they feel the organization is investing in their careers. Putting a plan to action can not only help win over employees but help prepare an employer for its future talent needs.
Offer a Flexible Work Environment
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees have been afforded the opportunity to work remotely or have flexibility with their schedules. Surveys overwhelmingly indicate that many employees prefer to retain flexible work options. These offerings include work-from-home arrangements, hybrid work schedules (working part of the week in the office and part of it remotely) or flexible work schedules. If a business has primarily administrative employees, remote or hybrid work could continue to be an option even as COVID-19-related precautions loosen. For small businesses, offering these types of arrangements can help maintain a competitive edge over competitors that don’t offer such flexibility.
However, not all organizations allow for remote or hybrid work. If a small business is in the service industry, for example, remote work may not be an option. Yet, even working with employees to create flexible scheduling options can go a long way. The feasibility of a small business being able to offer these types of flexible arrangements will vary, but these offerings remain a priority for many workers today.
Create a Strong Workplace Culture
While topics such as compensation and benefits matter for attracting and retaining employees, so does the culture of a workplace. Even if they have limited resources, small employers should focus on fostering a desirable workplace. A healthy company culture can help retain employees—and, in turn, create an environment that is attractive to prospective job seekers. In fact, company culture is important enough that it often drives employment decisions.
As such, many small businesses are focusing on creating a strong workplace culture. Leaders are pursuing initiatives such as training managers on how to identify employee burnout, designate fair workloads and support the needs of their individual team members. In addition, many small businesses are developing programs to help create an inclusive work environment.
These types of efforts can help foster a healthy workplace culture. Each small business will be at a different place concerning the current and desired state of their work environment—and leaders can consider what types of efforts can help bridge this gap.
Like most organizations, small businesses face a set of challenges with attracting and retaining the employees they need. Fortunately, smaller businesses have the ability to stay agile and should consider what strategies they can leverage to compete in today’s labor market.
Contact us today to learn more about attraction and retention or for additional resources on any of the topics discussed in this article.
By Ashley Snodgrass, Employee Benefits Analyst
The RISQ Consulting Team has been proud to sponsor a company book club for the last few years. Our book club has led to many insightful discussions about client experience, productivity, effective meeting structure, team dynamics, leadership and more. Some of these ideas have even led to tangible and beneficial changes in our organization.
Most recently, our team read The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe is Tomorrow’s Mainstream by Amy Webb. Amy Webb is a noted Futurist and founder of the Future Today Institute. Webb works to help companies and individuals understand how to interpret signals as information that can be used in planning for the future. According to the Future Today Institute (FTI) website, FTI works with companies to prepare leaders for “deep uncertainty and complex futures”. Amy Webb wrote The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe is Tomorrow’s Mainstream to bring futurist thinking to a wider audience.
In this book, Webb illustrates a multi-step process in which the reader can test patterns in societal behavior to determine which are more likely to turn into trends or stick long-term, as well as offer insight on how to think like a futurist. Webb also includes helpful graphics and supplemental resources to allow the reader to implement this process in their own organization.
The purpose of reading this book as a team was to encourage discussions about innovation. After reading, members of the book club met and discussed how varying technologies will impact our industry. We also discussed how we can leverage the NEW to benefit our clients and their employees. This resulted in RISQ creating a more robust and tech-forward employee communications package, which has become a high value service to our clients.
You may not be able to adopt all of the great ideas stored between the pages of a book club book, but when you share the experience of reading you are guaranteed to have at least one great outcome; it builds better comradery. And building better comradery is one positive trend that I know will stick around long-term.
As a reminder, if you want to start a book club in your own organization, I recommend checking out this post – for more tips to a successful start. Happy Reading!
By Andrew Kupperman, Employer Services and Workforce Technology Consultant
These days everyone seems to have an overabundance of time on their hands, so I’m sure you spent that free time attending HR Executive Magazine’s HR Tech Virtual conference last week. But just in case you found something more interesting to do (which is unlikely), I wanted to share the 10 themes that were presented as organizational imperatives. These are the 10 areas that an organization should dedicate some love and attention to in order to keep doing what they do best for the foreseeable future.
If you haven’t heard of the HR Technology conferences before, they bring together organizational and business thought leaders from all corners of the earth, who talk about the struggles businesses are faced with now, and in the future, and what’s happening within workforce technology to help solve these problems. Check out the link below to the article, 10 Themes From HR Tech Virtual to Help You Prepare for the Coming Decade.
By Andrew Kupperman, Employer Services and Workforce Technology Consultant
Within just the last year, much has changed relative to the way organizations operate. I feel the most impactful change, which may be felt as a more lasting impression, is the way organizations recruit and retain employees. Some say we’re going through a revolution in the workplace. They liken what’s happening to The Great Depression by calling it the “Great Resignation”.
While these analogies do hit home relative to the sentiments of our times, I’d like to use my own metaphor. What we’re experiencing right now is a Perfect Storm. We have:
An ongoing pandemic. This has forced many business models to shift structure to accommodate remote work, now and in the future.
A shift in generational worker mindset. This has caused a shift in organizational values away from prioritizing the bottom line and towards providing flexibility, meaning, and value to the clients, employees, and community that an organization serves.
A transformation in compensation mindset. This is forcing organizations to consider their strategy and practices related to pay equity, pay equality, and pay gaps.
How organizations alter course relative to this Perfect Storm can determine if they sink or swim. Below are some of the employee attributes I believe are best suited to weather the storm and help an organization find calmer seas.
The changes we’ve faced over the last almost 2 years have forced many into personal and professional changes they weren’t ready for nor were they expecting. Those who are riding out this big wave of change are doing so mainly because they’ve kept open minds about change, found effective coping mechanisms, and remembered that change is the only thing that’s constant.
Having adaptability attributes will only put an organization in a better position to tackle future change, which is inevitable. Employees who can easily adapt can also help those who are change adverse understand and jump the “what’s in it for me” hurdle, which seems to be a constant barrier for those who don’t react well to having change forced upon them.
As we seem to be in a flux of constant change, organizations that are rising to the top are not just those that are weathering the storm – they are riding those tall waves to new heights. Love him or hate him, Elon Musk has just successfully sent civilians to space through his SpaceX program. Being a billionaire has its perks, though Mr. Musk probably doesn’t achieve this feat without some of the most innovative talent on his team.
Having employees who want to help create something new and can think out-of-the-box to get there (even in the middle of a perfect storm), can only help organizations develop innovative products and services that provide new value to who they serve.
We’ve all been through a lot over the last 2 years. Having employees who can be sympathetic and empathetic to other’s plights, can help other employees feel cared for and supported through times of need. You’d hope most organizations practice this throughout their various hierarchies, but many businesses have faced difficult decisions recently. Having the attribute of emotional intelligence widely spread within an organization can only help those facing turmoil, be able to feel supported enough to get through it. If your organization as a whole is able to do this, it’s leaving lasting positive impressions for that employee.
Accountability and Clarity
These attributes may be tough for many organizations to identify because they might not have built a great structure to help keep employees accountable in the first place. Focusing on these attributes and identifying who (whether in or outside of an organization) consistently sets clear expectations of themselves based on organizational needs, and then holds themselves to these expectations is a huge blessing. These individuals need to become example setters within any organization, especially in times of disruption and change.
Many employees might question that the organization owns the role to set expectations and keep employee accountable, so organizations need to consider a thoughtful way to approach the fact that these are highly valued attributes, and how to properly encourage and recognize positive outcomes when employees display creating clarity and accountability.
Valuing Own Needs
This is no longer your grandad’s workplace environment. The shift in what’s valued when someone chooses to work with an organization has changed. Organizations that don’t pivot based on this shift will become obsolete because eventually they won’t be able to find employees who want to work for them. Finding employees who understand and can communicate what they value is a key component to the shift we’ve seen. Organizations can’t identify what their employees’ value in a vacuum. Employees must be able to communicate their needs.
Whether it’s flexibility, community and social awareness, or work-life balance, employees who can clearly express these values and hold themselves and the organization accountable (see prior attribute) when these values are being abused, can only help themselves as well as the organization in meeting these values. I feel the need to ask, would you rather work with someone who can stand up for their values or someone who’d let you walk all over them?
Finding and fostering these attributes may be different than how your organization recruits new employees, or even considers what attributes currently exist across employees. But being able to identify them, and more importantly, encourage them to be used, may just be the ticket to getting to those calmer seas. Happy sailing!