4 Challenges HR Professionals Can Expect To See in 2019

| February 7, 2019

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It should come as no surprise that 2019 is shaping up to be a pretty interesting year with what we’ve seen so far. At IQDynamics, we had the pleasure of sitting down with several experienced HR managers from various industries and got their take on what challenges we can expect to see in 2019.

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Empower Software Solutions provides innovative human resources solutions for thousands of organizations, from small businesses to Fortune 500® companies – including several of the largest U.S. retailers. Empower Software’s integrated human resources suite features HR/payroll, tax filing and compliance outsourcing, workforce management, and time and attendance solutions. Whether cloud-based or on-premise, via laptop or mobile device, Empower Software believes in providing flexible solutions and superior technology to help businesses efficiently and effectively manage the employee lifecycle and enhance company performance.

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5 Mistakes To Avoid When Creating A Workforce Development Strategy For Under-Performers

Article | March 1, 2020

In some spaces, underperformers are quickly dismissed, but there may be value in them yet. How can you improve their corporate abilities, and what online training errors should you dodge? Creating A Workforce Development Strategy: What To Avoid. Some disciplinarians use the shaming technique to teach a lesson—embarrassing them into compliance. But it often causes lifelong trauma. You may not see the negative repercussions right away.

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How to Determine KPIs for Remote Employees

Article | March 1, 2020

Remote work has become the norm in 2020, and it has brought forth newer challenges for organizations. While productivity has increased over 13% after this switch to remote mode, employers are still struggling to figure out a way to measure and quantify the productivity of remote workers. It is now more important than ever to have defined key performance indicators for all your remote workers. But before getting into how you can evaluate them, you need to formulate a plan to deal with remote work. What Are Effective KPIs for Remote Employees KPIs or key performance indicators are tools that help employers quantify employee performance in real, measurable terms. When it comes to performance and productivity, there are a lot of vague assumptions in place. Also, each employer or manager has their own idea of productivity. Some may find punctual employees to be effective, while some may not care about their timings at all as long as they complete their work on time. In this case, how do you make sure that all employees are judged effectively and fairly? This is where KPIs for remote employees enter the picture. They serve as a point of reference for employers when evaluating employee performance. KPIs for remote workers are objective and offer a fair indication of remote employees’ performance. When you have teams working remotely, KPIs are especially effective. When you don’t know when the employees start work or how many breaks they take, the only effective way to measure their productivity is to have defined KPIs for remote workers for each process. This will also allow you to formulate a remote work based pay strategy for your employees. So how do you ensure effective KPIs for remote workers? There are several ways to determine KPIs for remote workers, but one of the easiest and most effective ways is to make sure that the KPIs for remote workers are SMART. SMART is a planning tool, but it works really well for KPIs too. After all, KPIs are a method of planning towards success. SMART KPIs are: Specific Make sure that the KPIs for remote workers are not vague or ambiguous. Do not set goals like ‘improve the quality of the blog’. Ambiguity will only lead to further chaos. Be specific in what you expect, and communicate it well. A good example of a specific goal would be: Proofread all the blogs and make them error-free. Measurable Setting KPIs for remote workers is supposed to help you quantify performance. Make sure the KPIs for remote workers are measurable in clear and precise terms. If you were to make the above-mentioned goal measurable, it would look something like this: Proofread 20 blogs and ensure they are error-free. Achievable A lot of leaders believe in setting the bar high to inspire their team to do more. But there’s a difference between setting a high bar and gearing up for an impossible task. If the KPIs for remote workers are impossible to achieve, it will demotivate your employees and they won’t be able to perform at their best. Evaluate each of your employees’ capacity before you set KPIs, that way you will know if the KPIs you set for remote employees are achievable or not. Relevant The work culture in each company is different. What is considered important in one organization may not be of any importance in the other. In this regard, the nature of KPIs differs from workplace to workplace. However, it is important to stay relevant for the sake of efficiency. ‘Dress appropriately’ may be good advice, but it cannot be a KPI for remote employees as it is irrelevant to your employees’ work unless they are in an exclusively client-facing role. Here’s a sample of KPIs for managers: Calculate the working hours of all your team members and report it to the Human Resources department. Time-bound The KPIs you set for remote workers may be fantastic in every other aspect but if they aren’t time-bound, you will not be able to quantify them. Take the above-mentioned example – Proofread 20 blogs and ensure they are error-free. Here, the employee knows what is expected of them in clear, measurable, and defined terms but they have no time limit to work within. An employee might finish 20 blogs in a month while another might take three months. Are both these employees equally productive? In order to have a clear understanding of your employees’ performance and productivity, you need to ensure that the KPIs for remote workers have a time-bound deadline. This way, you and your employees will have a clear picture of expectations vs. performance. A good example would be: Proofread 20 blogs by the end of the month and ensure they are error-free. SMART KPIs are tried and tested in several organizations and have proven to be an instrumental tool in evaluating employees. Consider OKRs as an Add-on Most organizations use KPIs for remote workers to quantify and evaluate performance. However, with Google’s adoption of OKR, there has been a noticeable shift towards OKRs. OKRs are Objectives and Key Results —it’s an evaluation mechanism designed by Andy Grove for Intel. This system allows you to define objectives and tie them to key results that act as smaller goals for your employees. A good example of OKRs would be: Objective – Increase website traffic by 50% Key result 1: Create 50 pieces of informative content for visitors. Key result 2: Promote created content on social media. Key result 3: Run a Google Ads campaign to gain more visitors. You may wonder what the difference between OKRs and KPIs for remote workers is. The key difference is that KPIs are activity-based goals while OKRs are objective-based goals. Take a look at the same example to understand this further: KPI- Proofread 20 blogs by the end of the month and ensure they are error-free. OKR- Objective – Improve the blog quality Key result 1: Proofread all the blogs in the next quarter Key result 2: Create guidelines for content creation Key result 3: Run all content assets through QC The key difference in the above given examples is that KPIs talk of a single task whereas OKRs align all the tasks under an objective. So, which one should you use? To succeed, you should ideally use both of these systems. KPIs for remote workers are really helpful for ongoing projects and small-term goals. However, if you’re starting a new project, or want to realign your company’s objectives towards a single goal, OKRs are your best bet. Effective Metrics for Remote Workers No matter what system you use for evaluation, or what your principles behind the evaluation are, it all boils down to the ‘how’. How do you evaluate them? What metrics do you use for evaluating remote employees? While several organizations have their own concept of these, BSC designer has classified these metrics into three important pillars: Self-discipline Effective communication Employee learning skills Self-discipline It’s no surprise that self-discipline ranks number one when it comes to KPIs for remote workers. A remote employee can only be as effective as their self-discipline. And when your entire team is distributed, it is especially important to quantify, assess, and reward self-discipline. But how do you measure a concept as ambiguous as self-discipline? Set up the metrics in a way that self-discipline is measured through each task. Quantify it through the following measures: Was the task completed on time? If not, was it communicated in time? Was it up to the expected quality mark? If not, were the reasons communicated in time? These questions will help you evaluate an employee’s self-discipline in tangible and measurable terms. Effective Communication According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work report, 17% of the respondents mentioned that communicating or collaborating with their team was the biggest challenge they faced while working remotely. Clearly, communication is a pain point for remote work. And ensuring that your team practices effective communication tactics can alleviate this challenge. You can use the following factors to quantify effective communication: Are the requirements for the task communicated to the supervisor effectively? If working in a team, are all relevant factors shared with the team members at regular intervals? In case of a glitch or blockers, is the issue informed immediately? Were the instructions paid attention to? Is the quality as expected? In case of delays or quality issues, were explanations provided before the deadline? Is all the documentation crisp, clear, and error-free? While this list is not exhaustive in any way, it will give you a clear understanding of your team’s communication skills. Employee Learning Skills Remote work throws a wrench in your regular processes. Teams have to deal with delayed communication channels, equipment breakdown, network errors, and a lot more. On top of that, while these issues can be fixed easily in an office, they aren’t easily resolved in a remote setting. Your team must be equipped to learn new things quickly while being able to follow instructions to a T. This is where employee learning skills enter. Measuring learning skills can be tricky, as everyone learns differently. However, the acquisition of new skills and their application can easily be observed. You can use these questions to quantify these skills: Do they take up learning new skills of their own volition? If confronted with a task that requires a new skill set, do they volunteer to learn it? When a new skill is learned, how is it applied to the task? How long does it take for them to learn the new skill? How effective is their work after the acquisition of new skills? How quickly do they understand instructions? How well do they perform tasks after getting thorough instructions? These questions will help you grasp your employees’ overall learning skills. An employee with good learning skills is a big asset to your organization. There are several other ways to determine KPIs for remote workers as each organization has a different set of requirements. However, this will give you a general idea of how to go about setting up your KPIs for remote workers. Expert Tip: Measure the quality and quantity of work over the time spent doing it. This will enhance your employees’ trust and improve their productivity. Frequently Asked Questions How do you set KPIs for remote employees? KPIs for remote employees are different from those for regular employees. You need to focus on the results over the time spent. Set KPIs that measure the output over input. How can I monitor employees that work remotely? An easy way to monitor is to break down the KPIs for remote workers into smaller goals and touch base with your employees frequently to keep a track of their progress. How do you measure productivity remotely? Productivity metrics or KPIs for remote workers such as ‘the number of leads converted’ can be a good measure of measuring productivity remotely. { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How do you set KPIs for remote employees?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "KPIs for remote employees are different from those for regular employees. You need to focus on the results over the time spent. Set KPIs that measure the output over input." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How can I monitor employees that work remotely?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "An easy way to monitor is to break down the KPIs for remote workers into smaller goals and touch base with your employees frequently to keep a track of their progress." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How do you measure productivity remotely?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Productivity metrics or KPIs for remote workers such as ‘the number of leads converted’ can be a good measure of measuring productivity remotely." } }] }

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The Employers’ Guide to an Effective Work from home Policy

Article | March 1, 2020

The modern workforce has traditionally been location specific. But with the advent of telecommuting technology, the world saw a rise in remote or virtual teams being employed. By the end of 2019, 4.7 million people in the U.S. were already working remotely. And since the pandemic hit, over 88% of businesses across the world moved to a remote mode. You are now looking at a world where working out of the office is no longer the norm, and hence a work from home policy is required. Businesses are now forgoing geographical barriers and hiring the most eligible candidates to ensure a well-rounded team. There are several benefits of working from home, but it has its own set of challenges. One of the most comprehensive ways to deal with the challenges of a virtual team is a flexible work from home policy. Given the state of affairs, chances are that you too are struggling with your employees working from home. How do you ensure that the remote workforce is not only productive, but also motivated and on the same page? The easiest way is to draft an effective work from home policy. How to Implement a Work from home Policy As an employer, your employees will likely look to you for opportunities to connect remotely, regularly, and efficiently. These opportunities need to come through your work from home policy that will help develop the company’s remote work culture. Take a look at these effective practices, policies, and guidelines within your work from home policy to ensure that the switching gears of the new age workforce don’t affect your business. Rethink Your Policies First, decide whether you even need a work from home policy. A year ago, organizations had the liberty to decide whether they wanted to offer remote work at all. But with the pandemic forcing the world to adapt, everyone is working from home now irrespective of preferences. So an effective work from home policy becomes a requirement in this situation. There are several ways to design your work from home policy. But what comes down to the essence of remote work is trust. You must be willing to extend trust to your employees and their motivation and this trust should be the foundation of your work from home policy. There is no other way to approach this situation. If there is no trust involved, the policy will only serve as a piece of paper. Your work from home policy is no different than any other policy. It should reflect how you want to present yourself or your organization. And while it may be a difficult process to transition into the remote mode, remember that it is equally difficult for your employees who have to get used to a considerable amount of new processes, guidelines, and a brand new work from home policy. Similarly, it is important to extend your work from home policy to include recruitment efforts as well. Here is a guide for digital hiring that will give you insights into remote hiring procedures and best practices and help you draft an effective work from home policy. Update Your Metrics Your work from home policy is your roadmap to remote work. In the office, you may judge an employee’s productivity based on whether they are punctual or how they interact with their colleagues. Or you might have a detailed policy about how the employee is performing. But when there are compelling reasons to work from home, most of these metrics become obsolete. Therefore, your work from home policy needs to consider what metrics are relevant. Multiple studies have corroborated that employees are more productive when working remotely. But your work from home policy still needs to define how their performance is measured. Update the metrics in your policy to evaluate their output rather than work hours or punctuality. Consider changing your priorities to cold hard results over performative productivity. Here are some examples of the metrics you can employ in your work from home policy: Call volume Leads per rep Average deal cost Submissions At the end of the day, it boils down to the relationship you share with your employees., If it’s robust, productivity will flourish even in the most trying times. Reset Your Communication Channels Communication can make or break any process even in the most regular setups but when your entire workforce needs to work from home, communication becomes all the more important. Motivating your employees becomes pertinent at this juncture. There are several ways to keep everyone on the same page effectively, but for that, you will have to rethink your channels and integrate them with your work from home policy. In-person calls and meetings are not an option anymore, so you will have to figure out what works best for your team. Are they comfortable with Zoom meetings or do they prefer Slack calls instead? Is your team active on the internal channels, and is the communication clear? How do you assign tasks? Is there a clear line of accountability? All of these questions need to be answered through your work from home policy. There are several apps and software that will help you stay on track like Slack, Xebrio, and Basecamp. These tools make life easier for virtual teams and are a bonus to an in-house one. In any case, your communication channels are an integral part of your work from home policy. You can also check out how executives from other organizations are dealing with a remote workforce. Invest in Data Security Working from home comes with challenges, and one of the key challenges for you as an employer would be your data security. If you haven’t already, consider data security to be the core of your work from home policy. As your employees will be working from home, they will be handling your data individually in several locations, some on their personal devices. This could lead to catastrophic issues if any of their devices are compromised or there is a lapse in following procedures. Data security is one of the key components of an effective work from home policy, no matter the nature of work involved. Most companies today work solely on the basis of their data. And it is extremely important to ensure that the data is safe and free from any tampering. To make sure of this, you need to take a few key measures and document them within your work from home policy. Get your employees accustomed to basic data security practices Provide them with access to VPN Equip all the devices in use with up-to-date data protection Run an audit for security and password Make it mandatory to backup all work on the organization’s server Consider switching to and encouraging your employees to use cloud services Consider using an MDM/EMM solution There are many ways to ensure data security but these should give you a fair idea of what to include in your work from home policy. Offer Equipment and Tech Support Devices and software break down often, and they will continue to do so in remote mode too. In order to help your employees work from home effectively, it is important to provide them with all sorts of support necessary and make sure the provision is a part of your work from home policy. Have a dedicated person or team, depending on the size of your company, to coordinate tech support. Let your employees know the procedure to follow in case of breakdown and have a protocol in place for any contingencies in your work from home policy. It is better to be prepared and not need it, than to be unprepared and require it. And your work from home policy is the document that helps you prepare thoroughly. Conduct Frequent Team-building in Events Your employees’ morale is at an all-time low. The pandemic has wreaked havoc with personal lives, social lives, and professional lives. On top of that, remote work tends to increase feelings of isolation and alienation within people. With no in-person interaction with their team members or colleagues, there is no sense of connectedness within your team. Your work from home policy is where you can fix that. A great way to remedy that is to include non-work related activities in your work from home policy and conduct them frequently within office hours. Team-building events or fun activities go a long way in encouraging your team to feel comfortable and rejuvenated. And now that everyone is in the comfort of their home, you can get creative with the kinds of activities you plan. Ensuring that this effort is undertaken for remote employees, it is important to add these minor details into your work from home policy. In order to get a head start on your work from home policy, you can download Human Resources Report’s work from home policy template. At the end of the day, it all boils down to trust. You need to trust your team, and they need to trust you. Only then can a team survive virtual collaboration, even with a brilliant work from home policy in place. Frequently Asked Questions How do you write a work from home policy? List the positions eligible for work from home Provide detailed description of timings, KPIs, additional instructions, etc Set up technology and support requirements Follow Deck 7’s BDA guide Why is a work from home policy important? A work from home policy offers added flexibility to the job profile and is one of the highest-rated perks among millennials. It also outlines the exact expectations from remote workers and sets the tone for further interaction. A work from home policy boosts productivity, lowers costs, and helps you leverage a global workforce. Are employees who work from home more productive? Studies have shown that working from home marks an increase in the productivity levels of the employees. This could be due to the reason that employees feel more accountable for their work. What should be included in a remote work policy? The key elements of you remote work policy should be: The purpose or objective of the WFH policy Eligibility of the employees for WFH policy Duration of WFH for employees Mandatory requirements Work timings and shifts KPIs for remote employees Security and confidentiality

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Great training is key to creating a positive employee experience

Article | March 1, 2020

You’d love to have employees working for you who are the type that always want to learn new things and grow, right? Right. Engaged employees spend more of their time working to improve their performance through training and development. They are the type of workers every company wants, and they expect their employers to create a positive experience for them by matching their ambition with effective training. For firms and HR professionals trying to create a positive employee experience, it’s essential that your team of in-house trainers is ready to lead the way.

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Spotlight

Empower Software Solutions

Empower Software Solutions provides innovative human resources solutions for thousands of organizations, from small businesses to Fortune 500® companies – including several of the largest U.S. retailers. Empower Software’s integrated human resources suite features HR/payroll, tax filing and compliance outsourcing, workforce management, and time and attendance solutions. Whether cloud-based or on-premise, via laptop or mobile device, Empower Software believes in providing flexible solutions and superior technology to help businesses efficiently and effectively manage the employee lifecycle and enhance company performance.

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