Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Harnessing the Power of Flare®

In a previous Astronology, we explored the basics of a Human Resource Information System, or HRIS. As we mentioned in that article, such technology can be beneficial in assisting with HR administration. It is also an effective tool for boosting efficiency & productivity, and removing physical paperwork off one’s desk.  In this Astronology article, we give you a closer look at Astron Solutions’ Flare® and many of its different modules.

What is Flare®?

In short, Flare® is a cloud-based framework that allows you to track your employees from their first days of work to their last days with your organization. You can customize your Flare® suite to fit your organization’s needs. All data stored in the system is password protected and housed on secure servers with 99.9% uptime. You have the ability to upload employee information & reporting relations, and store an unlimited number of users and employees.  Some of Flare®’s most attractive features are the customizable modules and the individual, reasonable pricing per module. 

But what’s included in Flare®?  Let’s dig deeper into some of the more popular modules.

Performance Appraisal Module

According to a 2011 SHRM poll, 98% of organizations reported that they have a formal employee performance evaluation process. Although you may have one in place, are your performance reviews completed on paper?  Why not cut time and resources with an online performance review system? With Flare®’s performance appraisal module you can eliminate the hard copy and streamline everyone’s work by having employees’ appraisals pre-populated with their job description and other desired demographics.  In addition, this module is designed with features to ensure all sections are completed prior to submission, to perform mathematical calculations for accurate scoring, and to check for potential legal issues.  Other user favorites include these features:

  • Self-Reviews,
  • HR approvals,
  • Summary reports, and
  • Electronic or traditional paper signatures.

Pay for Performance / Merit Increase Module

“While there are pros and cons to using a merit increase approach, in today’s world a majority of organizations attempt to link pay increases to employee performance,” explains National Director Jennifer Loftus.  “With limited merit increase budgets typically around three percent of pay, it’s essential that organizations make clear distinctions in pay increases between the high performers and low performers.”

If the thought of working with multiple spreadsheets and checking formulas makes you dizzy, however, consider Flare®’s pay for performance module.  In three easy steps you will be able to assign all employees with proper merit increases, meeting your merit increase budget and having the necessary reports for senior management. This module is able to calculate increases as a percent of base pay, lump sum, or a combination of both. Factors such as position in range and performance appraisal score can also be taken into consideration.

Job Description Module

According to Jennifer, “the Department of Labor continues its robust investigations of wage and hour complaints.  One of your best defenses in an FLSA audit is up to date and accurate job descriptions.  And with the new FLSA regulations around the corner, now is the time to create or update your organization’s job descriptions.”

Need an accessible place to keep record of your job descriptions?  Need reminders to update your organization’s descriptions more frequently than every five to ten years?  Flare®’s job description module is for you.  This module allows you to design a job description template so all job descriptions are consistent in content type. Authorized staff can prepare draft updates to job description content to be approved by HR.  The Flare® job description module also contains tests for FLSA compliance and a point factor job evaluation system to streamline your work and reporting systems.

Staff Advancement Monitor™

About 52% of respondents from the 2013 Global Assessment Trends report listed developing leaders as a top priority for their organization. Is leadership development a priority for yours?  If so, Flare®’s Staff Advancement Monitor™ module assists you in developing custom primary & secondary competencies and developmental activities for future leaders.  The results tracked in this module can be used for employee promotion recommendations.  Additional features include a listing of all participating employees, their mentors, and targeted goal positions.

Finders Keepers™

The 2013 Global Assessment Trends report also mentioned that 55% of respondents cite engagement of the workforce as a priority this year. Do you want to know if your valued employees are engaged with their work… or with your organization? Would you like to get opinions on where managers can make improvements? With the Finders Keepers™ module, you can! This module allows authorized users to create much needed customized surveys to gather employee opinions, new hire perspectives, and even exit interview data.  On-line, real-time reporting makes data analysis a breeze!

Total Rewards Statements

77% of organizations feel as though they communicate employee benefits effectively. If you want to ensure that your employees are aware of your organization’s reward program, consider Flare®’s Total Rewards Statement module!  With this module, you will be able to securely inform your employees of the value of their total compensation packages in real-time.  Information captured and reported by Flare® in both narrative and graphic formats include and are not limited to salary, variable compensation, and benefit cost & value information.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Rules of Engagement

According to an October 2013 Gallup study, one in eight, or 13% of employees, are engaged with their work.  However, the bulk of the employees in the study, 63%, are “not engaged.”  Employee engagement is important for organizational success. So how does an organization keep its employees engaged in their work and engaged with their organization? Astronology explores some areas to consider when creating an engaging workplace.

1. Start by engaging with potential candidates at the recruitment stage.

A strong, reliable, and smooth recruitment process is important for ongoing talent management. The UK mobile network “3” decided to move its recruitment measures to an online platform nearly 10 years ago with the hopes that employees would have a positive and consistent experience with the company starting at initial contact. Prompt contact with candidates gave 3 an edge in its highly competitive market. Part of their online recruitment process gave candidates the ability to track their application status at every stage of the process. Their online system also allowed 3 to record, keep on file, and identify potential candidates who may not match the jobs initially applied for, but could be potential matches for other positions that may become available at a later date.  The system opened communication between candidates and the organization...creating an engaging environment before the hiring process.

2. Provide regular and consistent performance management.

The annual performance review with the employee should not be viewed as an “administrative burden.” The employee should feel as though he / she is valued for his / her contributions to the organization. The performance review is a way for employers to demonstrate to employees that they are valued and recognized for their hard work. It also allows the employees to see that there is a communication channel they can use to share their concerns and ideas.

3. Get to know what your employees are thinking.

The use of employee opinion surveys is one way to get to know what the employees think of their current work environment.  Companies such as Recreational Equipment (REI) have become creative, designing an online social media platform called “company campfire” where employees can voice their concerns and opinions.  As our world becomes more technical, being inventive in opening communication channels may set in motion the motivation for employees to want to communicate and become more engaged.

4. Managers must be effective in engaging their employees.
How are managers to be effective in engaging their employees? Investors In People (IIP), a UK government owned company designed to assist British businesses, lists the following:

  • It is imperative that managers are clear with individuals on what is expected of them:
    “Clarity is vitally important for employees, ensuring that they know their place within the organization, and what is expected of them in their role.  This will further incorporate development of team members, a key attribute in keeping them engaged and aligned with an organization’s objectives.”
  • They must treat individuals as individuals, showing respect and fairness for all.
    “Every individual within a company expects to be treated fairly, so managers must ensure that their behavior towards them is consistent.  This must be consistent not only within the context of other team members, but also within that of other managers and the wider organization.”
  • Managers must be able to build work relationships with team members, both on a one-on -one level and on a group level.
“Breaking down barriers and working in a close capacity is one of the simplest methods for managers to build trust within their team.  In this sense, flattening the hierarchy, pitching in, and sitting with the team are all efficient ways of building up those relationships.  Furthermore, managers must also be willing and prepared to feedback on a team’s direction.  This can be done quite simply when a particular team member or team is performing well, but it is equally important to feedback when the reverse is true.  Research shows that employees particularly value feedback after completion of a successful, but complicated or difficult task.”
Do you see areas you can improve on to make your organization more employee-engaged? Has your organization made adjustments not mentioned in this article that has made a difference? Please share your thoughts with Astronology – we’d love to hear from you!

Monday, June 08, 2015

The Jerk Store Called

Working in an office can be tough with a lot of conflicting personalities, people clashing with their superiors, etc. But the worst are the jerks in the office. The guys who make you say, in the words of George Costanza: "Well, the Jerk Store called, and they're running out of you!"

And the truth is that there are different types of jerks in the office. Beyond.com has a great rundown of the different types that you might encounter (and I've definitely worked with all 15 of those guys), but I like their conclusion to the article:
Office jerks are often unavoidable. Understanding the types and their behaviors is the first step toward making a better workplace for yourself. Don't get pulled into their drama or lower yourself to their level. Focus on your work, co-workers with positive attitudes and keeping your superiors happy. In the end, rude co-workers tend to get exactly what they deserve.
I couldn't agree more. I once worked with a jerk who thought it would be a great idea, when his boss was gone for the day (or, heaven forbid, on vacation), to put his feet up and read a newspaper. People would stop by and see him like this and he thought he was above everyone else. That was until HR stopped by, tapped him on the shoulder and gave him a pink slip. Jerks get the same karma all of us get--just give it time.

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