Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Good Office Politics in 2018

In a recent national survey conducted by Bridge by Instructure Inc., 53% of employees believe that “engaging in workplace politics was a moderately important factor in being promoted.” Naturally, we all want to succeed. We expect that success is achieved based on our undeniable hard work and skill. The above quote, however, raises a concern over the role office politics may play in advancement.

A mindtools.com article equated “good” office politics to networking and / or stakeholder management. “Office politics often have a negative connotation because of the negative influential behaviors associated with a person trying [to] achieve goals of getting to the top. There’s a thin line between persuasion and manipulation, and the negative connotation exists because of the few bad eggs that use unethical tactics in their pursuits,” explains E.M. Raws in a Chron online article. If all office politics isn’t bad, what exactly is “good” office politics? How do you conduct positive office politics?

Kathleen Kelley Reardon, in a Harvard Business Review article, explains that the degree to which an employee may have to engage in office politics largely depends upon the work environment. She lists four levels of politics in organizations:
  • Minimally political organizations: in this environment, expectations for leadership, management, and promotions are made clear. Camaraderie exists, and although rules occasionally are bent and favors are granted, they are not done underhandedly.
  • Moderately political organizations: in this environment, rules are widely understood and formally sanctioned. Political behavior could be denied since it is exists in a low current state.
  • Highly political organizations: in this environment, who you know is more important than what you know. Rules are invoked when convenient to those in power. In-groups and out-groups are clearly identified.
  • Pathologically political organizations: in this dangerous environment nearly every goal is achieved by going around people or formal procedures. Distrust permeates everything.
Reardon encourages identifying the type of political arena you work in and if you are a good match currently. If not, she notes “…it never hurts to learn about politics and to stretch your style to accommodate a variety of levels.” How so? She lists the following tips:
  • Read about workplace politics and observe those who are skilled
  • Try tweaking how and when you say things
  • Consider to whom you’re giving power and alter that if it’s getting you nowhere
  • Break out of dysfunctional patterns
  • Be less predictable
In addition, Monster.com shares some positive strategies to use in environments with higher levels of work politics:
  • Be alert
  • Ask respected higher-ups for counsel periodically
  • Perform deliberate acts of kindness
  • Do visible important tasks
How do you feel about workplace politics? Do you work at an organization that displays high levels of politics? How do you handle that environment successfully? Feel free to share your thoughts in our comments section below.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Pay Equity in the Workplace: Do Gender Based Disparities Still Exist?

The American Association of University Women released its Fall 2017 Gender Pay Gap report/guide with statistics regarding the pay disparity between women and men. In this issue of Astronology®, we look into how broad these pay disparities truly are and how this situation impacts Human Resources.

According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women earned 80% of what men earned. The smallest pay gap was found in New York, where women earned 89% of what men earned. California came in second at close to 88%, with Florida third at 87%. The largest pay gaps were Utah and Louisiana at 70%. Some writers highlight that the AAUW’s findings do not take into account personal choices with respect to careers. These choices or factors include college major, occupation, industry, hours worked, workplace flexibility, and experiences.

Yet in AAUW’s recent research findings, unexplained pay gaps still exist even when men and women have the same level of education. For instance, women with a Bachelor’s degree make 74% of what their male counterparts with the same education earn. Women with a high school graduation level education made 78% of what their male counterparts earned.

In regards to industry, there is research that notes a few fields were women make more than their male counterparts. These fields tend to be historically male-dominated fields such as riggers, small engine mechanics, and non-oil & no-gas drillers. For many industries, however, a gender pay gap exists, with male counterparts making more. In some cases, the gaps are closer than others. These findings, plus additional research & speculation, lead many to believe that personal choices can’t fully account for the gender pay gap. Adding to the importance of the discussion, a Pew Research Center report finds that 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family.

What can HR departments do to prevent gender-based pay disparity? Keeping accurate records is an important step. The AAUW urges employers to “conduct salary audits to proactively monitor and address gender-based pay differences.” Astron Solutions offers an array of packages to support organizations in the quest for fair and equitable compensation programs. We encourage you to learn more about how we can be your trusted partner in this critical and sensitive matter! If you do not use an outside consultant, however, closely watching your organization’s internal salary increases, salaries for new hires, and salary changes associated with promotions is critical in eliminating gender-based pay gaps in your organization. An ounce of prevention today is worth a pound of cure tomorrow.

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