women in the workplace

Embracing Returnships for Women to Combat Effects of Pandemic

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

I hate to say it because we’re in the middle of Women’s History Month, but we’re experiencing a “shecession”. This term was coined by C. Nicole Mason, president and chief executive of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. And, unfortunately, it’s spot on. The pandemic disproportionately left millions of women out of work due to circumstances beyond their control, and sadly the post pandemic job recovery has been slower for them than their male counterparts. I honestly cannot believe that after all the gains we’ve made that we’re seeing women’s participation in the workforce numbers that are at a 33-year low. It’s going to require a lot of effort from all stakeholders to chip away at the damage that’s been done. One way organizations can help women re-enter the workforce and put their careers back on track is through returnships.

How Returnships Can Help Women Recover Careers

Career gaps, in general, have significant impacts. They result in lower wages and lost advancement opportunities, which in turn leads to reduced lifetime earning potential. Plus the longer women are out of the workforce, the harder it is for them to find a job since employers tend to view career gaps on a resume negatively. But the current gaps are not normal. Companies need to view these lapses differently in light of pandemic-related school and daycare shutdowns. The caregiving conflict put families in unfathomable positions. Returnships can help counteract the deleterious effects of the pandemic on women. 

What is a returnship? It’s basically an internship that helps those who have left the workforce and are now wishing to re-enter it. Usually it provides extra training and affords valuable mentorships. The time of the returnship varies, but typically the returner is hired when it has ended. While it may seem that companies are doing women a favor by offering returnships, in actuality, the returnship is mutually beneficial. Workers can refresh their skills, learn new ones, build connections, and boost experience, while employers have an opportunity to evaluate workers before hiring them on a full-time basis. And right now they are a great way for companies to combat the Great Resignation.

Many companies have had returnships in place long before the pandemic, such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Intuit and IBM. Wells Fargo had planned their returnship prior to COVID, but it didn’t launch until the pandemic was in full swing. Amazon expanded its returnship program to entice women back last June. Others like Grubhub and Audible recently created returnship programs. All of these companies realize the benefits returnships bring. Research shows that everyone benefits – including the organizations – when women join the workforce.

Of course, returnships will only be effective if they are paired with other initiatives, such as remote work opportunities, flexible hours, and child care. But they are a step in the right direction to helping women successfully re-enter the workforce.

 

transparency

Pay Transparency and the Gender Wage Gap

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

I started my HR career in compensation. Part of my responsibility at that time was to market price entire departments to ensure external competitiveness. I remember how bizarre – and deeply bothersome – it was to focus on external competitiveness while being forced to ignore the disparate pay levels between men and women within the same department. In every department, there was always one “outlier” – someone who made a tremendous amount more than the rest of their peers. And yes, that person was always a white male.

Despite the fact that women have earned more bachelor’s degrees than men since 1982, more master’s degrees than men since 1987, and more doctorate degrees than men since 2006, the gender wage gap continues. One strategy to bring about pay equality that’s gaining momentum is pay transparency. As an HR professional, I’ve witnessed this become one of the fastest growing topics in my profession. Why? Because not only does pay transparency work to close the gap across many industries, occupations and positions, it also supports regulatory compliance and offers other key benefits to the organization overall – including leverage during the Great Resignation.

Proof that Pay Transparency Pays Off

Compensation data and software firm PayScale released a report based on 1.6 million responses about compensation over a two-year period. According to its findings, pay transparency works across the majority of industries, occupations and job levels. It found:

  • When respondents agree that there is pay transparency in their organization, the gender wage gap vanishes for women doing similar jobs as men, provided all compensable factors are adjusted
  • There are a few notable exceptions where pay does not quite equalize across industries: retail and customer service, accommodation and food services, arts/entertainment/ recreation, transportation and warehousing 
  • There are also some exceptions across occupations: construction and extraction, sales and related, food preparation and serving related, production, installation/maintenance/ repair, protected services – which tend to be male dominated jobs
  • A gender gap is still evident at the director and executive levels

Despite the discrepancies, adopting transparent pay is one step toward pay equality.

Salary Disclosure Laws Help to Push Transparency

In my generation, along with previous generations, talking about how much money you make has been taboo. And companies traditionally have held this information close to the vest. So, your counterparts’ salaries were pretty much a mystery. But now with the internet, salary information is right at our fingertips from sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn. You can even find it on social media. Today, discussing salary with your co-workers is protected by law, and more and more states are enacting laws that allow job seekers to know a position’s pay range when they interview. While this can help with salary negotiation, for pay transparency to work, it needs to come directly from the organizations themselves. 

Many organizations, however, feel trepidation about taking such a leap and have pushed back against transparency afraid of employee disputes. But in some states they have no choice. Pay transparency laws are popping up all over the country. The trend started in California back in 2018, when the golden state required employers to provide external applicants with the pay scale if it was requested and the first interview was complete. Similar laws have been enacted in Maryland, as well as Cincinnati and Toledo, Ohio. Washington passed a version of the law, but expanded it to include internal applicants upon request after the initial offer. 

In time, pay scale disclosures laws started requiring proactive actions. Connecticut employers must provide the salary range to external candidates at offer and current employees at role change or upon request. In Nevada, employers must provide the range to current employees interviewing for new roles and external applicants post-interview or upon request.

New York City is going even further by requiring employers with at least four New York City employees to include the minimum and maximum salary on all job postings.

For jurisdictions where the disclosures aren’t mandatory, it’s up to HR teams to make leadership see their benefits of adopting a transparent pay process.

Pay Transparency Brings Benefits Beyond Closing the Gender Wage Gap

When organizations adopt pay transparency, they realize additional benefits that HR teams should bring to their attention to bring them on board:

  • Regulatory compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which can help protect against lawsuits
  • When organizations commit to a compensation strategy that values employees, they make themselves more attractive to top talent and enhance employee engagement, in turn boosting retention rates and profits
  • According to a LinkedIn report, the professionals that practice pay transparency found that it makes the hiring process more efficient by streamlining negotiations and that it helps ensure fair pay among race and gender

Pay transparency isn’t enough on its own to eradicate the gender wage gap, but it can have a significant impact. 

 

gender disparity in the workplace

Gender Disparity in the Workplace Widened During the Pandemic

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

Even before the first studies and research results were released, I could have told you how the pandemic was disproportionately impacting working women. I saw it in my community when shops run and staffed by women were shuttered overnight. When schools and daycares were suddenly closed, friends and family – myself included – struggled with child care. And as an HR consultant, I witnessed it in workplaces as women left their positions to care for their children when childcare options vanished. So no, I don’t need facts and figures to convince me that the gender disparity in the workplace widened as a result of the pandemic.

But, I will share those facts and figures here because they need to have a light shone on them. We, as a nation, need to understand the negative impact the pandemic has had on women’s careers and work-life balance, so we can take steps to help level the playing field for women in the long run.

Research Reveals Gender Disparities

In January, the Pew Research Center released a report that found that some gender disparities widened in the U.S. workforce because of the pandemic. First statistic of note is that job losses overall were greater among women than men. This, itself, is a serious setback. As you dive deeper into the results, they become even more alarming:

  • The number of women ages 25 and older in the workforce has fallen 1.3% since the third quarter of 2019 compared to 1.1% for men
  • Women who have no education beyond high school left the labor force in greater numbers than similarly educated men
  • Looking at the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2020, the number of women in the labor force who did not graduate high school decreased 12.8% whereas comparably educated men only contracted 4.9%

What accounts for these gaps? Much of it has to do with occupations. Women tend to be overrepresented in industries like health care, food preparation and personal service occupations – all of which were severely hit during the pandemic. 

Closure of day care centers and schools also played its part. The burden of childcare fell heavily on women’s shoulders. The result: working moms left their positions, stunting their career tracks.

The Impact of this Gender Disparity

Women have suffered serious setbacks over the last two years, facing breaks in their careers and reduced earnings – both in terms of salary and lifetime income. When women’s careers are interrupted it can result in lower wages and lost advancement opportunities, which impacts long term earning potential. But as things start to return to normal, will women’s workforce numbers start to climb?

Alarmingly, research by the National Women’s Law Center found that post pandemic job recovery has been slower for women, stating:

“[M]en have now recouped all their labor force losses since February 2020 while over 1 million fewer women were in the labor force in January 2022 as compared to February 2020. The sharp contrast between the number of men and women in the labor force likely reflects the uneven caregiving responsibilities men and women have taken on in the pandemic which have caused continued school and child care disruptions.”

Yana Rodgers, professor with Rutgers-New Brunswick’s School of Management and Labor Relations and School of Arts and Sciences also affirms the disproportionate impact:

“In 2020, women with school-age children definitely experienced a “COVID motherhood penalty,” as evidenced by growing gender gaps in employment/population ratios and working hours. School and day care center closures required parents to spend more time at home caring for children and supervising their schooling, and the bulk of this work fell on the shoulders of women.”

So what now?

Creating a More Equal Playing Field

These statistics prove we need to take action to boost job recovery – and fast. Women already suffer from the gender pay gap LINK TO BLOG. Staying out of the workforce will only widen that gap even further. 

Companies benefit greatly from having women in the workforce – but that’s a topic for another blog. Just know that there’s plenty of research to back that up. So it’s incumbent upon employers to put initiatives in place that can help even the playing field, such as:

  • Endorsing paternity leave from the leadership level to neutralize the stigma of the “mommy track”
  • Providing child care support
  • Promoting professional development
  • Offering educational opportunities
  • Allowing remote working when possible
  • Permitting flexible work hours

The goal should be to offer workplace policies that promote achieving career aspirations and lessening gender stereotypes and disparities.

 

 

employer branding

Employer Branding’s Importance in Recruitment

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

Candidates have control of the labor market right now. Full stop. Between COVID and the Great Resignation, the playing field has entirely changed and employees are no longer beholden to their employers. The circumstances of the last two years have employees at all levels, across all sectors and industries, rethinking their options and leaving their jobs in droves. When it comes to employees deciding where they’ll land next, they are being incredibly selective, and doing lots of research on companies and their cultures before even applying for a position. One of the candidates we recently worked with had turned down multiple offers, from October to January, until she found exactly what she wanted, with whom she wanted. All this being said, the importance of employer branding, now more than ever. Regardless of size or number of employees, organizations need to understand how they’re perceived as an employer, how that perception is impacting attracting and retaining the right talent, and the actions they need to take to build a visible, positive reputation.

The Stats Speak for Themselves

Last April, Glassdoor released an article titled The Most Important Employer Branding Statistics to Know. The findings they culled speak volumes as to why focusing on branding is so important for organizations in today’s climate. Here are just a few eye-opening numbers:

  • 86% of employees and job seekers research company reviews and ratings to decide where to apply for a job (Glassdoor/Harris poll)
  • 75% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a job if the company actively manages its employer brand (Glassdoor survey)
  • 68% of Millennials, 54% of Gen-Xers, and 48% of Boomers indicated they visit employer’s social media channels specifically to evaluate the employer’s brand (CareerArc study)

What does your brand say about your culture? Is your brand even visible online? These are questions HR & Marketing departments need to be asking right now if they want to successfully navigate today’s labor crisis. Branding is how you’re going to stand out from the competition during the research phase of the job search. 

What Exactly Is Employer Branding?

To put it simply, employer branding is the perception employees and potential employees have of a company. In essence, it speaks to a company’s desirability and its ability to attract and retain talent.

Employer branding all comes down to defining and positioning who you are as an organization at every touchpoint:

  • Website career page
  • Social media channels
  • Job postings
  • Review sites like Glassdoor
  • Employees
  • Communication with candidates

Why Employer Branding Is so Important

To be honest, employer branding takes effort, but the outcome is so worth it. It just might be your best weapon in the war for talent. Here are a few of the benefits businesses experience as a result of powerful employer branding:

  • 50% more qualified applicants (LinkedIn)
  • 28% reduction in turnover (LinkedIn)
  • 50% reduction on cost-per-hire (LinkedIn)

And now, let’s look at the inverse. These stats shed light on what you have to lose if your employer reputation isn’t so great:

  • 50% of job candidates wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation – even for a pay increase (LinkedIn)
  • 86% of women and 67% of men in the United States wouldn’t join a company with a bad reputation (Glassdoor)

While employer branding has been a buzzword for a few years, its gaining even greater importance in recruiting talent in the current climate. 

Stay tuned for our blog on devising a successful employer branding strategy. 

employee loyalty

How to Gain Employee Loyalty to Survive the Staffing Crisis

By Kimberly Kafafian

As you’ve probably already heard, a record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in December of 2021, and that month saw approximately 10.6 job openings. We aren’t really surprised by this latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As HR consultants, we’ve been seeing first-hand the impact the staffing crisis is having on our clients. And our clients aren’t alone as even we had turnover in December.  Business owners and C-Suite employees alike have been turning to us for solutions on how to keep their workers from searching for greener pastures. As we help these businesses address their retention issues, one of the first questions we ask them is, “What are you doing to encourage loyalty?” They often look at us confused and say something like, “We offer competitive pay and generous benefits.” Our reply, “That’s just not enough.” 

Even before the pandemic hit, millennials and Gen Z were looking for something more than just a paycheck when job searching. While they want fair pay, these generations also desire:

  • A company with a mission
  • Transparency around compensation
  • Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging
  • Meaningful work
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Leaders committed to employee success
  • A culture that values collaboration, fosters innovation, and provides opportunities for professional development
  • A healthy work-life balance

And guess what? After living through the challenges of the pandemic, other generations of employees reassessed their work lives and came to the realization that they want the same things. So, they, along with their younger cohorts, started walking off their jobs to find employers who will provide them. This Great Resignation of millions upon millions of people has proven that a decent salary and nice benefits are not enough to garner employee loyalty – regardless of the age of your workforce.

10 Ways to Foster Employee Loyalty

If you want devoted employees who are committed to the company’s success and will stick with you for the long haul, take the time to create an employee centric culture. Here are some tips for doing so.

1. Promote a Purpose that Resonates with Employees

Today’s employees are seeking a sense of meaning from their work. They’re looking for employers with similar beliefs so that they can work together on a common purpose that has a positive impact. Especially after the last two years, and the shifting focus on ESG and sustainability, workers want to feel like they are making a difference in the world. So reassess your organization’s purpose and align it with the type of talent you want to attract.

2. Provide Flexibility

Flexibility in where we work and when we work has come to the forefront during the pandemic. Many employees have enjoyed working from home, as it has cut down on commuting time, providing a better work-life balance. Some are enjoying the freedom of working on their own time when they feel most productive, perhaps in the early morning hours or late at night. If possible, provide employees with the option of working from home, as well as during off hours. The goal is to cultivate a productive team, and if they are getting the work done, it shouldn’t matter if it is at the office or from 9-5.

3. Be Honest and Transparent

Loyal employees are invested employees. It’s important to be open and honest about plans, strategies and challenges. Being up front with your workforce, in good times and bad, makes them feel like they are part of the team and the bigger picture. Those feelings go a long way in gaining loyalty.

4. Communicate Clearly and Consistently 

Silence and/or inconsistent messaging leads to mistrust. And that mistrust chips away at any dedication you may have fostered. Leaders need to bolster relationships by keeping teams in the loop on projects, goals, milestones, and more. 

5. Encourage Professional Development

Today’s talent wants to connect with companies that care about career aspirations. We’ve been working on a career development project for one of our clients and it’s some of the most rewarding work we’ve done in years. Demonstrate to your workforce that you’re invested in their plans to grow professionally by showing real interest in their goals, defining a career development path, promoting educational training and courses, fostering a mentoring environment, and reminding them of the importance of their roles in the company. 

6. Recognize Work and Achievements

I always say that simple words of recognition, such as telling someone they did a great job, can go a long way. Giving praise to workers in front of their colleagues takes it even one step further. You can also bolster feelings of pride by providing workers with plaques or trophies, physical gifts, experiential rewards, or monetary rewards (bonuses or gift cards). 

7. Foster a Collaborative Work Environment

The most productive teams are those that collaborate and bounce ideas off one another. When teammates and leaders really listen to each other, innovative sparks can fly. Plus, this collaborative environment fosters relationships, which helps build loyalty to the team and the organization overall.

8. Demonstrate Trust

Stop micromanaging and give employees the autonomy they need to do their jobs. When employees feel leadership trusts them, they’re more motivated and productive. This cultivates feelings of mutual respect, which in turn makes them feel proud of where they work, making them more loyal to the organization. Demonstrating trust is particularly important with remote teams

9. Enable Employees to Flourish

It’s leadership’s job to make sure employees are on a path of productivity and professional development. When obstacles stand in the way of successfully completing projects or achieving career goals, workers become frustrated and start considering other job options. So make sure to identify any barriers to workflow, put workers on teams and projects that best fit their skillsets, and make a real effort to have career development discussions with employees.

10. Offer Perks of Value to Your Workers

Employee benefits should extend beyond the traditional health, dental and vision care. Take stock of your workforce to understand the types of perks that would appeal to them. Maybe it’s more time off, better parental leave, tuition reimbursement, gym memberships, shopping discounts, pet insurance, wellness stipends, or unique on-site amenities. There are so many options, you need to find what will make your employees happy.

Gaining employee loyalty really comes down to showing your workforce that they are recognized, respected and valued. When you build your culture around that notion, the loyalty will naturally develop.

 

   

recruiting retirees

Recruiting Retirees to Fill Workforce Needs

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

Everywhere we look, businesses of all sizes, and across all industries and locations, are suffering from unprecedented turnover and struggling to attract new talent. With staggering resignation rates and an incredibly tight labor market we couldn’t have imagined two years ago, organizations are currently focusing efforts on cultivating the right culture. As HR Consultants, we work day in and day out with business owners and C-suite leaders to rethink the employee experience and create an employee-centric environment designed around our new work world. After all, research clearly demonstrates the strong connection between culture and engagement, as well as culture and recruitment. But in my experience, this strategy isn’t sufficient on its own to lessen the blows brought on by the mass exodus of workers. We need to get more creative when it comes to recruitment. And one out of the box strategy is to actively pursue retirees. This is something hospitals have been doing since the outbreak of the pandemic, which we think the business world could greatly benefit from emulating.

Today’s Retirees Are Not Idle Workers

You may be thinking to yourself, “Wait, don’t people retire because they wanted to stop working?” Well, yes, some do. Others, however, leave their careers to pursue something different. Or to become consultants. Or to start new businesses. Or to spend significant time volunteering. And some just simply change their minds! The point is many of today’s retirees remain active in the business world. And even of those who don’t, a good percentage would consider being active once again. In fact, a recent survey of retired workers by Resume Builder found that 34% of retirees have considered going back to work because of job opportunities available in the current labor shortage. So, considering this group definitely expands your talent pool.

Benefits of Hiring Retirees

Back in 2019, Josh Bersin and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic wrote an insightful article titled The Case for Hiring Older Workers. While it was written to offer one solution to the number of job vacancies outnumbering job applicants at the time, I believe it’s extremely apropos for today’s environment. The authors wisely dismiss outdated misconceptions that being older means being “less capable, less able to adapt, or less willing to roll up your sleeves and do something new than your younger peers.” They aptly point out that many people, especially those that had long and meaningful careers, like to work, as it allows you to give back, network with friends, and do something with your intellectual energy. But even more importantly, the authors highlight the benefits organizations gain by hiring older, experienced workers. 

Throughout my decades of work in the HR arena, I have engaged with workers across generations. I believe older workers and retirees can offer so much to an organization, such as:

  • Vast knowledge and expertise that only comes from years of work experience
  • Competence to be able to take on complex tasks or roles
  • Maturity to recognize they have nothing to prove
  • Ability to work well in a corporate setting
  • Cognitive diversity, which can boost productivity and spark innovation
  • Strong work ethic
  • Enthusiasm – which can be contagious

While “returnships” typically relate to women returning to the workplace after substantial periods, some companies are using them to invite older workers to come back. With so many amazing benefits, I’m a strong proponent of “retiree returnship”. It will not only help fill current talent needs; it can also make the organization stronger overall.

Ensuring a Successful Returnship

For a retiree returnship to work as envisioned, companies need to create an environment where retirees want to work and where they can thrive. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be flexible in terms of schedule and remote work
  • Help retirees adjust back into the workplace with a formalized training process as needed, i.e., new skill sets or technology
  • Team retirees with other employees who can answer questions and provide support
  • Offer opportunities for mentoring and reverse mentoring
  • Promote your corporate culture and purpose in job postings so retirees can get excited about working for your organization
  • Provide benefits retirees care about, such as dental plans, vision plans, and other perks

The tight labor market doesn’t show signs of easing any time soon. Recruiting retirees can help companies fill vacancies and build a stronger organization overall.

non monetary incentives for employees

7 Types of Non-Monetary Incentives for Employees

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

Some of the worst career decisions I made were for bumps in my paycheck. Even worse, there was a direct correlation between more money and more misery. I remember sitting at my desk, working for a then Fortune 100 company thinking, “What had I done?” (That particular company paid employees 40% higher than other companies so you were “locked” into staying.)  As I continued to navigate my career, I realized there was so much more to work than a paycheck. While $$$ might initially attract talent, it isn’t enough to motivate and retain talented workforce in the long-term.  

I think it’s gotten even more complicated with today’s workers who are looking for more personalized incentives. While salary is important, living in a COVID world for the last two years has spurred workers across the generational divide to reassess their priorities. They want more than a paycheck; they want to be appreciated, valued and considered. They want work/life balance. They want flexibility. They want to be seen and heard. And as the Great Resignation has greatly demonstrated, millions of workers are taking a stand with their demands. Yes, that is millions of workers for whom money was not enough to keep them engaged, loyal, or in place. 

So if money isn’t talking to these workers, what is? At Monarch Consulting, we help businesses identify what incentivizes work for their work segments. And I can tell you that incentives vary from sector to sector, business to business, and team to team. When it comes to incentives, it’s all about the experience. So, it’s important to dig deep and ascertain what drives your teams. What matters to them? What would they consider significant recognition? 

As you dive into the desires of your employees, it’s important to have an understanding as to why utilizing non-monetary incentives is so beneficial to your organization. 

Benefits of Non-Monetary Incentives:

More memorable than money. 

Think back to when you received a last bonus or other cash incentive. Do you remember the amount? What you spent it on? I’m going to guess probably not. But if you received a trip, a spa day, or a physical reward, chances are those incentives are tied to stronger memories.

High value to cost ratio. 

When receiving a monetary reward, much is tied to the amount of that reward, and disgruntlement can quickly arise. With non-monetary rewards like a concert or time off, the value the workers assign to the reward tends to be greater than the actual cost of the reward itself.

Easier to talk about with colleagues. 

It’s been drilled into our heads – at least through my generation – that you never talk about money. So, when workers receive monetary rewards, they may not be comfortable sharing this information with their colleagues. Take the financial sum out of the equation and those same workers will probably be excited to share the news about the reward they received.

Greater emotional connection. 

This benefit best relates to physical rewards like trophies or plaques. There is a special feeling of pride tied to receiving these awards in front of teammates or other work colleagues. 

Highly attractive to millennials and Gen Z. 

As mentioned above, these two generations in particular are centered on so much more than a paycheck. They’re looking for organizations that offer perks other than a good salary or potential bonuses.

These benefits really hinge on organizations developing a variety of non-monetary perks that best fit their workforce. It’s important for HR teams to work together with management, supervisors and the C-suite to devise an appropriate incentives program. Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas to help you along.

Examples of Non-Monetary Benefits to Help Attract, Motivate and Retain Your Workforce

1. Flexibility

Everyone wants their employers to be more flexible these days for a better work-life balance. Allowing greater flexibility related to where you work and when you work can make a world of difference to your workforce. It shows you value the employee’s time and that you trust them to get the work done. 

2. Public Recognition

I have always been a huge proponent of saying thank you to employees and acknowledging their work. I find that this on its own is a powerful motivational tool. Now, take it one step further, by giving praise to workers in front of their colleagues. And go even further by awarding them a plaque, trophy or social media badge they can display with pride. There is a huge emotional attachment here.

3. Time Off

Let’s face it, the last two years have led to a lot of burnout. We all could use a little extra time off to reset. Awarding a day-off is a great way to recognize the hard work your team is putting in – and a great motivator to keep giving your all.

4. Experiential Rewards

Experiences are a great incentive. It can be a spa day, sporting event, trip, wine tasting, Masterclass, concert or other experience your team would enjoy. This will hold a stronger memory than a monetary reward. 

5. One-on-One Time

Consider breakfast, lunch or dinner with the boss. The time taken for these one-on-one meetings demonstrates your appreciation and makes workers feel noticed and recognized.

6. Physical Rewards

Physical rewards can go beyond plaques and trophies. Cool gadgets, golf clubs, and wine or coffee subscriptions are just a few examples of some non-monetary rewards.

7. Opportunity for Personal Development

Recent research reveals the strong correlation between career development and employee engagement. The 2021 Talent Index found 83% of employees think their company should help with career progression. This is underscored by a Lattice survey in which a staggering 76% of respondents said they would be somewhat or very likely to leave a company because they were dissatisfied with career progression opportunities. It’s obvious that career development opportunities – trainings, courses, workshops – are highly valued by employees.

Today’s labor market is a tight one. Stand out by offering the right non-monetary incentives for your organization’s workforce.

employee performance discussion

When Should Employee Performance Problems Be Discussed? (Hint: It’s in Real Time)

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

An essential part of managing employees is addressing performance issues. I admit, even for the most seasoned People Managers and HR professionals, these are not fun conversations. These conversations are, in fact, one of the most challenging aspects of a manager’s role. Because of that, managers quite often (ok, almost always) delay having these discussions. But delaying talking to an employee about their less than positive performance is detrimental to everyone.

Monarch is located in the NY tri-state area and we often commute into Manhattan to meet with clients. Our commute puts us on trains operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA. The MTA has a slogan for commuters: If You See Something, Say Something (which was coined on Sept. 12, 2001). Good performance management is just like that: done in real time. 

All too often, performance problems are brought up for the first time during annual performance reviews. When you wait too long to raise performance concerns, you unleash a host of problems:

  • The employee may be under a false impression that they are doing a good job. As an HR professional, I all too frequently hear, “No one has ever said anything to me before about concerns with my performance.” If nothing is mentioned (and more importantly, documented), the employee’s actions may seem acceptable and then the person will see no reason to change. Plus, if you terminate after this one mention at such a late date, you open up the possibility of legal action for unfair dismissal.
  • At this point, it is often too late to fix the issues as the unproductive behaviors exhibited by the employee have become commonplace, deteriorating the manager-employee relationship. Said differently, your employee now has an unproductive habit that wasn’t kept in check.
  • You missed the opportunity to quickly correct the performance issues, which negatively impacts not only the employee’s performance, but the performance and value of the entire company. The moment you see behavior that needs correction, correct it. Let’s face it, People Managers, that’s part of your J-O-B.

Discuss Performance Issues with Employees

When they First Arise

Hoping that the employee’s performance issues will go away is wishful thinking. If no one told the employee that there was an issue, how would they know they should work on it? You need to have a discussion with the employee as soon as you are aware of the performance problem. Here are some reasons why it’s so important to do so:

  1. It ensures that the manager and the employee are in sync of what is expected.
  2. It helps the employee better understand what is needed for good performance.
  3. It provides an opportunity for the employee to correct the issue.
  4. A quick resolution leads to better outcomes for the organization overall as the issue could also be hindering the work of colleagues or subordinates.
  5. Providing regular feedback, both positive or negative, helps build better working relationships and trust.
  6. Giving feedback in smaller doses, more frequently, can help employees maximize their strengths and grow.
  7. It ensures that the feedback is current and in context, rather than out of date and irrelevant.
  8. During the annual performance review, there should be NO surprises. Both of you should be going into this conversation on a level playing field. 

Nobody likes having tough conversations, but it’s important not to put them off. And honestly, the more often you have these conversations, the easier they become. Frank and timely discussions with employees about their performance problems can help them improve, which is good for the employee, good for the employer, and good for their relationship.

motivate employees - carrot and stick image

How to Intrinsically Motivate Employees

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

As we head into 2022, I’d like to encourage business leaders to take a closer look at their employee engagement initiatives. Peek under the hood, if you would. With millions of workers leaving their jobs and looking for better options (aka the Great Resignation), this is the time to assess whether your employee motivation strategy is up-to-date and in line with what today’s workforce is looking for in terms of job satisfaction. Over the last several years, we moved away from “You need this job, Employee!” to “Do you want this job, Employee?”. So with that in mind, are you offering opportunities that employees want? Are you building a culture that encourages employees to learn and grow? That instills a sense of pride in one’s work? Where people are willing to tap into their creativity for the benefit of the company? Have you created a place where employees feel like they belong? 

A company’s culture plays a key role in workforce motivation. A study by Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi found that: Why we work determines how we work. To effectively motivate their workers, leaders need to uncover exactly why they are working for the company. As the Great Resignation has demonstrated, the reasons go way beyond a paycheck. Today’s workers want to align themselves with a purpose and know the work they are doing enhances their potential for advancement. By understanding why your teams are working for you, you can develop successful strategies to retain/attract talent, boost productivity, and enhance revenues and profits.

The case for building intrinsic

motivators into your strategy

In working with businesses of all sizes, shapes and industries over the years, I have found that intrinsic rewards are very closely tied to increased employee engagement. These non-tangible rewards offer much longer lasting benefits than their extrinsic counterparts. While extrinsic rewards – such as bonuses, merit increases and paid time off – are effective at driving short term motivation, what is the incentive for employees to do something beyond the scope of the work required for the reward? 

While focusing on intrinsic rewards requires greater effort, the rewards the company receives make this extra work worth it. Since intrinsic rewards are psychological and driven by the employees themselves, they vary from person to person. For the intrinsic rewards to be effective, leaders need to take the time to build relationships with their teams so they can identify the rewards that would best motivate each team member (side note, People Managers should be doing this anyway!). Intrinsic rewards are very personal, like a sense of pride, learning a new skill or feeling like an important member of the team.

Because intrinsic rewards elicit a positive emotional reaction, they tend to motivate employees to continue to improve and do their best even when no extrinsic reward is offered. I’ve found that when leaders utilize intrinsic rewards, they reap greater benefits than if they just used extrinsic rewards. They tend to see a boost in productivity, enhanced creativity, less need for supervision, stronger commitment to the company, and overall reduced labor costs.

10 Ways to Motivate Your Workforce Intrinsically

 

1. Give meaningful tasks

People want to know that the work they are doing matters. Talk to your team to find out what they think are the most important aspects of their job, then assign tasks that will give them a sense of purpose.

2. Allow more autonomy

By giving employees more control of their day-to-day responsibilities, leaders can empower their teams to take ownership of their work, which can lead to better project outcomes.

3. Instill a sense of confidence

By letting employees know they are doing a job well, you’re instilling confidence in their abilities, motivating them to take on more complicated tasks.

4. Create an environment where employees can see progress

Apprising people of the progress they are making motivates them to continue on towards the overarching goal.

5. Increase responsibility

Assigning additional responsibilities can indicate to an employee that you have trust in their skills, which will inspire them to take on even more responsibility.

6. Develop a culture of purpose

Employees, particularly millennials and Gen Z, want to make a difference. By creating a culture of purpose, you are motivating them to align with, and work towards, a greater good.

7. Recognize employees as key team players

No one wants to know that they are just another cog in the machine. Letting employees know that they are an important part of the team can motivate them to do more.

8. Offer training and development opportunities

Supporting career development lets employees know they are valued and that you are vested in their advancement, which in turn boosts performance. 

9. Provide a path for advancement

Recent research indicates that employees believe their companies should help with career progression. Letting them know there is a path forward for them will motivate employees to be more committed to the company and their work.

10. Use affirmation to inspire

Simple words of recognition and encouragement are extremely powerful. Just telling someone they did a great job can instill a sense of pride, which is an incredible driving force.

a remote worker

Performance Management for Remote Workers

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

In a magnitude of ways and for a magnitude of reasons, COVID-19 (and oh hello, Omicron variant) continues to turn our worlds upside down. Remote work, telework, working from home, working from anywhere, virtual work, and hybrid work are all real things now. But what happens when managers, business owners and employees aren’t all in the same location? Let’s face it, when you’re in the same workplace as your team, it’s pretty easy to ask them a question or provide feedback on their performance. You can simply walk right up to them and start a conversation. And not only are you able to hear their verbal response, you’re also privy to what their body language is exhibiting. Performance management is a lot trickier, however, if a team member is working remotely. When you’re not physically present in the same space together, the feedback or question may be neglected, and miscommunication can easily occur. 

Monarch has always been a virtual company. For the rest of the world though, it was rare for managers to have remote teams two years ago. And although it began to look like things were returning to somewhat normal, COVID-19 variants keep rearing their head. Companies that had set new year timetables for employees’ return to the office, have delayed plans because of uncertainties over the severity of the variant. The remote work world is not going anywhere in a hurry. And if companies want to drive growth and continue to innovate, they’re going to need to continue reshaping their performance management strategies too. What they started doing in 2021 for 2020, they can refine and calibrate for 2021 in 2022.

Managers who may have kicked the proverbial can down the road when it came to performance management for remote workers, now must figure out how to have valuable conversations, provide effective feedback, and set clearly defined goals with their remote teams. They’re going to have to discard the old concept of connecting presence with performance. This is particularly important moving forward, as employers are likely to have a mix of in-office, hybrid, and remote workers. They cannot favor one group over the other simply because of physical presence. A conscious effort needs to be made to instead focus on contribution, results and outcomes. Where performance assessment takes place doesn’t really matter as long as a company has the right assessment strategies and approaches in place.

Remote Performance Management Strategies

 

Ensuring that remote employees are productive and engaged hinges on having an effective plan and following through. Below are the performance strategies I recommend to my clients who have a remote workforce.

1. Set expectations and review them often

If employees are expected to do their jobs, they need to know what their parameters are. Managers should clearly define each team member’s work requirements, giving them as much information as possible. They should be apprised of project requirements, priorities, milestones and goals. Explain what their daily schedule should look like and how you plan on communicating with them. Today’s world is rapidly evolving, so it’s important to consistently review expectations and pivot accordingly.

2. Be flexible

One of the things Covid has changed is not only where we work but when we work. Be flexible with hours. If the employee is getting the work done, it shouldn’t matter if they are working in the morning, afternoon, or evenings. It is the performance that matters.

3. Schedule regular on-on-one meetings

Don’t meet with an employee only once a year for an “annual review.” One meeting in a year’s time is so far from sufficient that it’s a ridiculous concept to me. Regular check-ins keep everyone updated on progress and provide opportunities to quickly address problems when they arise. In general, employees want to do a good job, they want feedback. Frequent meetings help to enhance their performance. A lot of our clients have developed the scrum, agile and/or stand-up approach to performance management – briefly, daily check-ins that keep everyone on track, in compliance and in communication. 

4. Ask for status updates

Simplify keeping track of performance by asking for frequent updates. Daily or weekly logs keep both parties on track and allow you to quickly see progress.  The updates are also useful to review during the one-on-one meetings. Our team shares a Slack channel called #monarch-daily-check-in. At the end of each day, everyone posts 4-5 brief bullet points about the client and internal work they completed during the day.

5. Give feedback often (aka daily)

When it comes to managing remote workers, it’s all about communication. By routinely providing feedback, you keep the lines of communication open. Be clear about what is and isn’t working, but remember if you have something negative to address be sure to do that privately with the employee. You should always address any performance concerns promptly, as letting them linger only makes matters worse. 

6. Celebrate good performance

Don’t just be on the lookout for poor performance, you should also keep an eye out for great things your team members do. Celebrating successes is just as important as addressing any performance concerns. Our team also shares a Slack channel called #good-sh*t where we call out and celebrate our individual and team successes.

7. Listen and empathize

Today’s employees are juggling a lot. You need to make sure workloads are manageable. When receiving status updates or conducting meetings, really listen to what the employees are saying. So many workers are overworked right now, which is impacting performance. Managers need to have a pulse on how they are feeling (hint: your workers are still feeling really stressed out about managing work, kids, pets, partners, the doorbell, the landscaper, the need for lunch/coffee/water/a bio-break, etc. all at the same time).

8. Trust

In handling performance management for remote workers, trust is the key element. Managers need to trust that their remote teams are working effectively and efficiently. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Treat your employees like adults. I guarantee they will pleasantly surprise you. 

9. Don’t micromanage

When teams are working remotely, you can’t keep your physical eyes on them, which may raise concerns about whether or not they are working efficiently. But even when workers are in the office, you shouldn’t be constantly watching them. For your remote teams, it comes down to trusting rather than observing. Of course you need to monitor progress and performance, but you don’t need to over manage. Again, you hired your employees for a reason. Let them do their thing. (Also, micromanaging is about you, the People Manager, and not your employees. More to come on that in a future blog).

Performance management for remote workers may be a bit different, but with the right strategies in place, it can be simple. And even easy! With remote work looking like it’s here to stay, now is the ideal time to reshape your performance management processes.