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Finding Talent in a Competitive Market

The competition for high-quality jobs has always existed, but today’s historically low unemployment rate is causing a new set of problems for companies searching for skilled workers. These top-tier candidates are in high demand but are difficult to acquire amidst the legion of competing companies. With the trends tipping in a new direction, how can companies stand out amongst the competitive crowd to attract their desired top candidates?

They’ll need to be creative and make improvements to their internal processes and external messaging to stand out. A few practices businesses can implement are:

  1. Develop and promote an employer brand
  2. Define company culture and values
  3. Refine the onboarding process
  4. Perfect hiring procedures

Without an employer brand, prospective employees will be unable to find your job openings. Additionally, if they are unfamiliar with your company, they will be less likely to apply. Taking a strong stance on company values will act as a beacon to attract candidates that match the company’s culture in a crowded job market.

While courting potential employees, maintaining consistent communication to create a seamless onboarding process will keep the new employee engaged and excited to join the team. When these core practices are polished and implemented, top-tier candidates will be a lot easier to attract, hire and maintain.

If you’re interested in learning more about 4 Point Consulting’s services, click here to get in touch!

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How to Create a Bully-Free Workplace

Though we tend to think of bullying as a problem that ends with high school, workplace bullying is an unfortunate day-to-day reality for millions of adults. According to a 2017 study by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), 19 percent of Americans are victims of bullying in the workplace. Bullies create a work environment that not only damages the health and well-being of its victims but also negatively affects a company’s bottom line.

Investopedia found that workplace bullying can negatively impact a company’s performance and reputation through reduced productivity, high employee turnover and increased legal costs. Fortunately, awareness of this issue has greatly increased in recent years, thanks to efforts such as National Bullying Prevention Month. Yet small- and medium-sized businesses still need to take steps to ensure they’re providing a safe and productive work environment for all employees.

Recognize Bullying in the Workplace

The signs of workplace bullying are often subtle and can easily be mistaken for normal work stress, allowing them to go unnoticed by many HR professionals. The WBI defines workplace bullying as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators.” Bullies will often habitually take credit for another employees work or, conversely, shift blame to their target when things go wrong. More obvious signs of bullying include aggression, intrusion into a target’s personal space or belongings, or subjecting a target to public humiliation. Supervisors can bully subordinates by setting unrealistic expectations or purposefully pitting employees against one another. Excluding certain employees from important meetings and blocking them from opportunities for advancement are also telltale signs of office bullying.

Properly Handle Incidents of Bullying

Employees should always know they can safely report incidents of bullying to their supervisors or HR representatives. Since the federal government and many states do not have anti-bullying laws, it’s up to individual organizations to devise a strict no-bullying policy (include this information in the employee handbook). If you haven’t already, create an employee complaint form and implement a standardized practice for investigating claims. This practice should include interviewing the victim, bully and any bystanders. Ensure that the investigation process remains confidential. Once it comes time to confront the bully, you should outline the specific behaviors that the bully must change and refer back to the employee handbook to demonstrate the seriousness of the situation.

Create a Bully-Free Workplace

Rather than wait for an incident to occur, it’s best to take immediate steps to proactively foster a positive, bully-free work environment. Creating a company culture that prioritizes inclusion and celebrates diversity reduces the likelihood that a bully will be tolerated in your workplace. Implement a management training program that identifies the early signs of bullying, and include all staff on workplace civility workshops to forge respect and companionship among coworkers. For smaller organizations, dedicating time for team building exercises and social outings help to strengthen bonds and build trust. A recent study by Warwick University found that happiness makes people 12 percent more productive, proving that a happy work environment is not only better for employees, but for the organization as well.

All of this underscores the importance of creating and maintaining a bully-free workplace where all employees feel comfortable and accepted. Getting management on board with new procedures for identifying and handling workplace bullying may present its own challenges, but the long-term benefits always outweigh the potential costs.

4 Point Consulting can help you navigate these new procedures and policies. Contact us to learn more.

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Onboarding Tips to Engage New Hires

In a recent webinar about onboarding tips to engage new hires, 4 Point Consulting associates shared their wisdom in regards to instilling company culture from day one. Here are a few of the questions from the webinar, as well as answers from our HR and talent acquisition experts.

What are the key milestones in the onboarding sequence that matter? Are there any that HR tends to miss or forget?

Onboarding is commonly thought of to be a process that begins somewhere around an employee’s first day with a new company. However, to truly build retention from day one, an organization will need to change its onboarding timeline to begin as soon as a potential hire becomes aware of the company itself. What a business conveys about itself across social media, its website, etc. will all impact how that future employee will interact with the brand. These opinions will be there on the first day and every day after that.

What fun, innovative or interactive activities have you incorporated to make onboarding more enjoyable and reflective of your culture?

Integrating an experiential ‘human element’ to the on-boarding process is vital — think of the new employee as a ‘culture add,’ not a ‘culture fit.’ To make the new hire truly feel like part of the team, include as many employees as possible. (Even if it’s just a team lunch.) Consider adding a video or unique materials that capture the essence of the company to showcase how important the workforce is to overall success.

Another way to assist a new employee in getting acclimated to the team is to create a volunteer-based buddy or mentor/mentee system. This provides the person with a point of contact for questions that may seem small but can actually be a source of anxiety for a new hire. (“Are these coffee mugs for everyone?”) When assigning a mentor, keep these things in mind:

  1. Personality and communication style
  2. Department location (a mentor will ideally be located in a different department)
  3. Hierarchy (a manager should be mentored by another manager, an associate with another associate)
  4. Context and commonalities (pairing a well-established individual in the field with someone right out of college isn’t an ideal fit.)

How do you measure the effectiveness of cultural onboarding?

While this metric can be more difficult to obtain than traditional measurements, there key areas in which to pay attention. For new hires, continue to check in periodically to garner feedback on their experience. Ask what they liked about their orientation process and if it met their expectations. Look for observable behaviors and pay attention to how the individual talks about the company (e.g. using words like ‘we’ instead of ‘they.’) As an employee progresses in their tenure, periodic surveys can be used to gather valuable feedback. Consider even making these surveys anonymous to encourage more genuine answers.

A long-term method of measuring company culture is reviewing turnover and how the number of employees impacts revenue growth. For example, divide revenue from a profitable point in the company’s fiscal year by the number of employees during that period. Compare that number to more current calculations to gather a broad overview of how workforce size correlates with business growth.

How do you welcome new hires to the company and make them feel like part of the team from day one?

Welcoming an employee to the company is a fun and exciting time, but it can also be extremely overwhelming to the new hire. A welcome email and an onboarding booklet on their desk with answers to simple questions like how to contact the IT department is an ideal place to begin. Consider also adding swag like a coffee mug or water bottle with the company logo for a more branded experience.

To truly make a new hire feel like part of the team from day one, a company should consider abolishing the probation period. In doing so, all insurance and retirement savings plan would be rendered effective on the hire’s first day. In addition to being a cultural tool, this initiative would also act as a strong recruiting tool.

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Improve Your Diversity Hiring Practices

Diversity hiring has become a hot button issue in local and global corporations, especially among tech giants and Silicon Valley startups. Creating a workforce that includes employees of all backgrounds has been proven to increase the all-around success of a business. In fact, Deloitte reported that highly inclusive organizations generate 1.4 times more revenue and are 180 percent better in their ability to adapt to change.

However, undertaking a diversity hiring initiative to rectify an inclusion problem can be challenging — so challenging that companies like Google and Facebook are still trying to get it right. Unfortunately, stereotyping and snap judgements are so deeply ingrained that we don’t realize it’s an issue. This unconscious bias is what an organization must seek to overcome to truly achieve a diverse workforce.

Access Proactive Recruiting Networks

Before posting for a position, take a look at your proactive hiring practices, such as connections with professional networks, job fairs and even social networks. These essential groups help get the word out when a new job is posted. However, if these networks aren’t inclusive of a different backgrounds, the candidates they yield won’t be either. Consider ways in which an organization can broaden its reach to make connections with new communities. For example, when looking for candidates with MBAs, take a look at the networking opportunities through such organizations as the National Black MBA Association. The same goes for company leaders’ networks. According to the Kapor Center, workplaces in which men are the majority, their personal and professional networks are even more segregated, affecting recruitment, hiring and promotion.

Examine Language and Context

Building a diverse workforce starts with how candidates are approached. There may be things the company is doing to discourage applicants of certain backgrounds, without actually knowing it’s being done. Textio, Inc. found that use of certain phrases like “whatever it takes” or “tackle” in descriptions can discourage female candidates from applying. While Project Include recommends minimizing references to perks that may appeal only to young, male, white applicants in the jobs page, like company retreats in exotic locales or sports outings, and emphasize inclusivity.

Prevent Bias in Candidate Selection

It is important to prevent unconscious biases from impacting who moves forward in the hiring process. While a hiring team may have the best intentions, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research uncovered biases based on whether or not a name sounds white or African American. To combat any potential for unconscious discrimination, try developing blind hiring practices.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the concept of blind hiring dates back to at least the 1970s, but the strategy of hiding certain candidate information until the late stages of the recruiting process has become more popular in recent years, thanks to new tech tools and an increasing awareness of the importance of building diverse workforces. Another approach is to replace the traditional process of narrowing down top candidates from a large applicant pool with intelligent shortlisting. This type of software will eliminate the tedious task of sifting through resumes and identify top candidates without outside bias.

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Defining OKRs (Objectives & Key Results)

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a process that has gained momentum across international companies like Google and AirBnB, helping these powerhouse brands connect with and unite their teams through tangible objectives that guide the business in a unified direction. OKR research and creation has become an integral part in successful human resource management to such benefits as stronger communication, faster adaptation and even workforce scalability plans.

What is an OKR?

At its core, OKR is a system of setting objectives and tracking the outcomes. While this isn’t a new concept, it was popularized by Google co-founders John Doerr and Larry Page when they implemented the process and credited it with the company’s incredible success. Google and its parent company, Alphabet, continue to use the system across all functions.

How it Works

OKR finds its best success through setting objectives, measurable results and grading the success of the efforts. To create an OKR,

  1. Start by defining key objectives for the business on a company, team and individual level.
  2. Under each of the objectives, outline a few measurable results to track and analyze progress. Avoid setting too many objectives, as this will fragment your workforce and keep the process from doing what it is designed to do, focus the organization’s efforts.
  3. There are multiple systems to use when measuring the success of OKRs, each with its own benefits and reporting systems. Once the objectives have been established, work backwards to uncover the best ways to grade success.

Remember, OKRs are not a one-time process — they should become an integral facet of the company culture and revisited on a consistent basis.

Benefits

A well-executed OKR program can result in a more coordinated and focused company. It creates clear objectives and expectations of employees, so they know where they should focus their efforts to complete the goals set for themselves, their team and the company as a whole. OKR also aligns employee and company goals, which allows an individual’s effort to forward the progress of a team, effectively moving the business towards its goal in a larger coordinated endeavor.

Growing a long-lasting company with sound internal structures and a strong culture is difficult. In addition to the many challenges innate with building a business from scratch, coordinating the workforce to accomplish the company’s goals adds another layer of difficulty. Implementing and executing an OKR process will ease the growing pains of the business and set it on the path towards success.

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How HR Saves a Company Money

Acquiring a human resources employee or contractor is an investment you make to improve the quality and value of your business. While adding this asset does cost money initially, the long-term payoff in adding these services will save the company untold amounts of money in the following ways:

  1. Ensuring diversification in the workforce
  2. Creating a supportive company culture
  3. Compliance of ever-changing workplace laws and regulations

Diversification in the Workforce

Today’s hiring landscape is more complicated than ever, making it more challenging to not only acquire the right talent, but to do so properly and reap its benefits.

Building a workforce that includes employees of all backgrounds has been proven to increase the all-around success of a business. To prevent improper hiring practices, assess the candidate pool to ensure the candidates are not all of the same background; examine the language and context of the listings to avoid alienating certain groups; and remove bias by implementing blind hiring or using software that hides personal information to prevent any unconscious bias.

Responsible Company Culture

One of the biggest draws in today’s recruiting practices is the overall company culture, which adds to your overall brand identity. Unfortunately, it’s often the culture that causes misconduct issues across the workplace.

Last year, a survey of 150 human resource representatives revealed that roughly one in 10 employers cancelled holiday parties, and only 47.8 percent surveyed said they would provide alcohol due to employee misconduct issues. However, according to the Society for Human Resources Management, no amount of training or post-problem investigations will help eliminate misconduct until a company chooses to invest in a “culture of civility.”

A dedicated HR professional has already acquired the proper training techniques needed to avoid a toxic culture that leads to costly lawsuits and executive firings. They can also determine how to best spend valuable company funds for proactive and preventative measures.

Maintaining Compliance

Federal, state and local employer/employee compliance laws are crucial when a company workforce is growing, but a company has to know these laws exist to comply. A high-level review of these topics is necessary for every business owner, but one must also dive into industry-specific regulations to avoid costly fines and legal actions.

One example is the Ban the Box movement, which is currently supported by 29 states. Ban the Box refers to the elimination of the box indicating criminal history, as checking this box almost always meant the individual was not going to be hired. Unfortunately, this practice too often condemns an otherwise qualified individual for a mistake they made years ago.

Additionally, accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees are gaining momentum after years of being overlooked. Legislation is working its way through government entities to protect pregnant workers on the job, similar to the Americans With Disabilities Act.

A company without an HR department is missing many opportunities and placing the business at risk. Working with a professional HR consultant will not only save a company money on employee turnover costs, but prevent potential lawsuits and increase employee satisfaction in the workplace, which in turn boosts productivity.

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The Top 5 Ways HR Can Help Scale Your Investment

When investors inject funds into a company, they expect to see growth and returns. While these empire-building professionals know how to build a successful venture from the business side, it’s important for startups to consider the human aspect of their business, as a dedicated and productive workforce will be the driving force behind any and all success. Luckily, there are a number of effective strategies companies can use to invest in their employees.

1. Boost Company Culture to Spur Success

Company culture is a commonly heard in today’s modern work environment, and for good reason. It is an effective way to increase employee happiness and productivity, attract top-talent and identify a business in a crowded industry, among other benefits. However, newly founded companies can struggle to define their internal brand, and maintain it as the business grows. Investing in an HR solution can remedy this situation, allowing that all-important culture to flourish and motivate growth from the inside out. Company values, such as creating and practicing a strong mission and vision, can act as an anchor to guide a business towards success.

2. Proactively Prevent Legal Troubles

A young business with no onboarding process, employee handbook or system to keep track of workplace requests or complaints can quickly find itself in legal trouble. Commonly, companies will seek help reactively to untangle the legal mess they are in, which is expensive and rarely easy. Working with an outsourced HR company or bringing on an internal HR employee can help a business create proactive practices to avoid potential legal vulnerability. Additionally, defining what behavior is expected of employees can set clear expectations and prevent workplace conflicts, which often deteriorate productivity.

3. Create a Workforce Scalability Plan

Scaling a business in terms of financials and external resources is always part of the business plan, but unfortunately, many company leaders fail to plan for massive and sudden internal growth. In fact, a large number of startups fail, and one of the main reasons is due to improper internal growth. Budding startups are already at risk for growing pains — workforce expansion shouldn’t be one of them! Establishing recruiting strategies and scalable internal processes early on in the lifecycle can provide the confidence needed to continue growing, and layout a clear strategy for ongoing success.

4. Manage Employee Sentiment to Maintain Productivity

The most important facet of a business it its employees. It is a proven fact that happy employees are more productive, which directly feeds into a healthier bottom line. When transitions in management occur or a department shifts occur, it is extremely common for employees to experience higher levels of stress. Investing in a strong human resources solution will prevent unrest from spreading throughout the company, potentially damaging the value of the company.

5. Identify the Best, Most Qualified Candidates

New business ventures need a strong group of employees to shoulder the early workload as the company scales. However, as a new business, attracting quality talent will be challenging. An HR company can coach and guide a startup on how to find the best-fit candidates. They can also dramatically increase the business’ exposure to potential future employees. Once a strong team is in place, it will be essential to train, develop and maintain the staff. No one is better equipped to handle those tasks than an HR professional. They know the exact training and development services that will benefits each employee — from executive coaching for team leadership to closing gaps in training and coaching.

Guiding an investment business towards success is about uncovering potential problems and turning them into opportunities. Savvy investors will scour every corner of a company to discover new areas of improvement, and the the workforce carries a high potential for increasing the return on investment. Working with a professional human resources company can help maximize success.

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5 Continuing Education Opportunities to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Top talent is difficult to acquire. Once you have high-performing employees, it is essential to implement initiatives to maintain retention. While some may not see it as a priority, statistics show that opportunities for career development and leadership are among the most desirable company offerings. Additionally a lack of employee investment is the reason 91% of workers seek new opportunities. Offering educational opportunities to employees shows them that you are interested in helping them grow and reach their career goals. As an employer, investing in and fulfilling the needs of your top employees will be an integral part to attracting and retaining top talent.

1. Implement Training and Development Programs

High-performing employees understand the value behind training and development programs. Offering these initiatives will attract employees who are looking to improve and want to succeed, which are key qualities of top talent. Training and development programs will not only increase the quality of work, but it will also foster loyalty.

2. Provide Mentorship Opportunities

A mentorship offers many benefits to the mentored employee and the business, as the mentor will impart their good habits and best practices onto the mentee, creating another high-performing employee. The mentor will guide the new employee and offer feedback as they progress in their role. It is also a great way for an incoming staff member to learn the office landscape and to become acquainted with other employees.

3. Send Employees on Conferences

Conferences are a great way to engage employees on topics related to their role. Additionally, it is a great opportunity for them to network with other like-minded professionals. One way to increase the value of the conference is to ask the employee to report back any new practices they learned to the team.

4. Enroll Staff in Professional Courses

Many training and development programs include coursework, as they are a more formal way of learning and can be done at their desk, remotely or in-person.

5. Promote Professional Associations

Presenting employees with access to professional associations is a great way for them to remain up-to-date in their profession. It also allows them to engage outside of work with other similar professionals, and creates the opportunity to expand their network.

6. Offer Job Expansion

After a significant amount of time on the job, the role may grow stale. One way to avoid this is to give employees additional responsibilities to keep them engaged and challenged. When considering expanding an employee’s job roles, work with the individual and their supervisor to find a comfortable balance of additional responsibility.

High-performing employees feel that continued education are critical to progressing their career. Providing these opportunities to staff will show them the company values their career development. Not only will these efforts increase employee loyalty, but it will directly improve the quality of work your employees output. Investing in your employees is an investment in the company.

4 Point Consulting offers Training & Development services to help you invest in your employees.

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How to Tell if Your Founder is C-Level Worthy

A business’s founder has the incredibly important and rewarding task of building a venture from the beginning. While many continue to run the business themselves, statistics show that by a company’s third year, only 50 percent of original founders hold the role of CEO. There are a variety of factors that contribute to such a change, and occasionally this was the founder’s goal all along. Regardless, when a business surpasses $20 million in revenue, it’s time to decide if the individual who initially launched the business is able and willing to take on a C-level role.

Are They Adaptable?

Once a corporation reaches a certain height, the concept and rate of change undergoes a major shift. When board members and even shareholders become involved, change management and its impact on the long-term growth strategy of the business becomes one of the most crucial skills in company leadership.

Take a look at how a founder like Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com has been able to react to and stay in front of trends and movements in the e-commerce space to morph his online bookstore into a global powerhouse. Not every founder is going to be a Jeff Bezos, but the ability to manage the process of and reaction to change is a key trait for a CEO.

Are They Able to Manage Growth?

Another factor to consider is how a founder manages growth — both funding and team size. If a startup achieves success, it’s not uncommon for that venture to go from a bootstrapped staff of five to a Series A-funded organization with over 50 employees in a few short years. This is a tremendous accomplishment! However, this is where some companies can begin to falter. An infusion of capital and people of this magnitude can become too much for the original leadership to handle, and a major indicator that leadership may need to shift.

Are They Board-Ready?

One area in which an original founder often shines is when it comes to communicating and exemplifying the overall brand. Whether it’s presenting to a potential client or giving a speech at a company picnic, this individual has the passion for the business ingrained within them. This level of excitement and dedication is extremely infectious. However, when it comes to ideal C-level candidates, the term “board-ready” becomes more common. Is the company founder able to bring this level of familiarity to a room full of investors or advisors who all have opinions on how the company should run in order to achieve maximum success?

Just because the founder is the right person to start a business from nothing, does not necessarily mean they are the right person to continue its growth. Even if the C-suite is not the right fit for the founder, many are still highly involved in their business. Should a founder no longer have the necessary skills to take the business to the next level, this need should be identified early on to ensure the corporation continues to grow.

If your company is considering whether or not your founder is C-suite-ready, 4 Point Consulting can help! Contact us to learn more.