Successful Workdays and Activities

There is no doubt that some days are better than others. How you show up each day matters – your attitude matters. Choosing your attitude is a choice that we make each and every day. There are things we can do to help ourselves and others have productive and successful days with the work we do. Being organized is at the top of the list.
Keep a to-do list: Taking five to 10 minutes at the beginning of each day (or at the end of the day before) to write out a to-do list, on paper or digitally, can help promote focus and foster productivity. Adding to the initial to-do list throughout the day can help you keep a clear idea of your goals.
Keep a tidy workspace: Take a few minutes at the end of each day to clean your desk, removing anything that you won’t absolutely need. Arrange things in a way that works best for you. This goes for digital clutter as well. Computers tend to start up slower when there are lots of files and programs on the desktop, so taking a little time each week to clear your computer of any unneeded files and download any updates may prevent crashes and computer lag. It can also help you find the programs and files you need more readily.
Find a schedule and stay with it: Some people work best when they wake up early, while others find success working at night. Determine the time of day when you feel you’re at your best (most productive and find your flow state) and try to get most of your work done during those hours.
Just as important as choosing a schedule is making sure you can commit to it. Consistency is key in creating new habits that last. Staying consistent with your schedule can also help you be more productive. Having a set of hours when you know you’re going to be working can train your brain to be active during those hours.
Take breaks: Taking 10-15 minutes every couple of hours to stretch your body and focus on something other than work can help keep you energized and excited about your job. You will often face unexpected tasks during the workday; giving yourself small, scheduled breaks throughout the day will give you time to meet these challenges without feeling overwhelmed.
Reduce multitasking: Multitasking may sound like the perfect way to get many things done at once, but unfortunately, this is not true in many situations. You may even find that multitasking can take longer than completing tasks individually.
Identify your distractions: Emails, texts, phone calls, and co-workers are a few common reasons behind distractions. Fortunately, there are things you can do to address these distractions. Schedule specific times to take care of emails, for example, to stay on task and not get distracted by every new message in your inbox. You might choose to put a distracting cellphone in airplane mode or place it in a drawer to reduce the possibility of getting sidetracked by a personal text. While you can’t always schedule incoming phone calls for your job, you may find success with scheduling a block of time to make any outgoing calls.
Automate your job where you can: Perhaps you send similar versions of the same email to multiple people. Create and keep templates for frequently sent emails, so you only need to customize where necessary and send. Digitize your signature to sign documents with a click. Automating tasks can help you stay focused and organized.
Prioritize tasks in order of importance: Begin your day with the largest or most stress-inducing task – the item that must be done today. This might take the largest amount of time in your day, but it ultimately will help your workflows move faster. Completing the largest jobs first can keep you motivated to finish the smaller tasks on your to-do list quickly without using up all your energy.
Schedule your days in “batches” of work: Some people find success with organizing not just their workday, but their workweek. If your job is a mix of phone calls and administrative work, for instance, perhaps you could attend to phone calls Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and spend Tuesdays and Thursdays on administrative tasks. This can help you maximize productivity and concentrate on tasks without feeling like you need to switch tasks at a moment’s notice. This strategy works best for detail-oriented people who don’t mind doing the same type of work for several hours on end.
Identify stressors: Oftentimes, the tendency to procrastinate stems from stressors such as self-doubt, perfectionism, or fear of criticism. Identifying what’s stressing you out can help you find solutions to reduce this stress and make the harder tasks easier to complete.
Meeting success – Ask these three questions:
If you spend time in meetings, as either a leader or participant, you want the meeting to be successful and valuable for attendees. We want the meeting goals and agenda to be accomplished. Try asking these three questions to get to success:
• Was this decision the best one we could make?
• Will it be good for the people in the organization?
• Will it be good for our customers?
If you can’t answer yes to all three of these questions, then you and your co-workers have more work to do.

Most people try to hit the ground running when they arrive in the morning. But how you finish out your workday may be just as important to your productivity. Instead of trying to pack as much as you can into your last few minutes, we are sharing some ideas to increase your efficiency by avoiding these activities. Take a look at these helpful tips (and feel free to share some of yours with us too):

Big decisions: You’re rushed, you’re tired, and you’re focused on going home. Any decisions you make in a hurry usually won’t be as successful as those you consider when you’re fresh.
New projects: You won’t make much headway during the last 10 minutes of the day. Make a few notes if you must, but don’t try to get a jump start on important work when you and your co-workers are finishing current jobs.
Leaving people hanging: Take a look at your commitments from the day. If anyone is waiting for a return phone call or a quick email, get back to them before you leave, as long as you can answer questions quickly and succinctly. You want people to know you value their time.
Obsessing over uncompleted tasks: Checking your to-do list can lead to frustration if you worry about the tasks you didn’t accomplish. Concentrate instead on putting tomorrow’s to-do list together and getting a fresh start in the morning.
Not saying goodbye: You’ll build better relationships by taking the time to say good night to your co-workers and boss. You don’t have to linger, but you can let people know you’re leaving and that you look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

Flexibility – Today’s Workplace Necessity

Shifting work dynamics and the desire for a better life balance has made this an on-going topic of discussion at all levels within our workplaces. Organizations that offer flexibility can help attract and retain top talent, increase productivity, and adapt to evolving business needs.
In the broadest of terms flexibility refers to a working arrangement where employees have input to their schedule to accommodate the varying needs and lifestyles of employees AND we need to meet business goals and needs too. This concept has gained popularity in fact, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, 63% of full-time employees are now working in a flexible role.
Before implementing flexible working hours in your organization, it is crucial that you carefully evaluate the pros and cons associated with this approach. This will allow you to make an informed decision and determine if flex hours align with your organizational culture, employee needs, and operational requirements.

Here are some key benefits:
Life balance: Flex hours enable employees to better manage their personal obligations, resulting in reduced stress and improved work-life balance.
Employee satisfaction and engagement. Offering your employees flex hours shows them that the organization values their needs, leading to higher job satisfaction, engagement, and morale.
Increased productivity: With a flexible schedule, employees are able to work during their most productive hours, leading to enhanced efficiency and increased productivity. This can also help to increase focus and eliminate potential time wasters.
Increased accountability: This form of scheduling can boost employee accountability as individuals are empowered to take ownership of their work and manage their time effectively.
Reduced absenteeism: Flex hours enable employees to handle personal matters without taking full days off, minimizing disruptions and reducing absenteeism. To the same effect, this approach can also help you reduce employee tardiness, especially if your employees are often late due to personal commitments.
Talent attraction and retention: Many job seekers these days value perks and benefits just as much as salaries. As a result, offering flex hours can help you attract and retain top talent in a competitive job market.
Diversity and inclusion: Flex hours accommodate employees with varying needs, contributing to a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
Employee health and wellbeing: Flex hours support employees’ physical and mental health by allowing time for exercise, self-care, and medical appointments.
Enhanced loyalty and reduced turnover: Flex hours foster employee loyalty and commitment to the organization, increasing retention and reducing turnover costs.

These are also some potential drawbacks of implementing flex hours that you also need to be aware of:
Difficulty in scheduling meetings: Coordinating meetings can become more challenging when employees have different schedules.
Inequity and perceived favoritism: If you decide to offer flexible work hours, it’s important to do so consistently. Otherwise, it can create feelings of unfairness or claims of favoritism among employees. This, in turn, can lead to morale issues and strained relationships.
Reduced collaboration and communication: When employees have different schedules and they are not present in the office at the same time, it can be challenging to coordinate meetings, share ideas, and have spontaneous discussions. It can also impact your corporate culture, especially if your employees work remotely.
Customer service challenges: Flex hours can result in delayed response times for customer-facing roles, potentially impacting customer satisfaction.
Time tracking challenges: Monitoring employee working hours becomes more complex with flex hours, making it harder to ensure accurate timekeeping and preventing potential abuse.
Burnout risk: Flexible work arrangements can blur the boundaries between work and personal life, potentially leading to overworking and burnout.
Scheduling issues: Flex hours can make it harder to schedule tasks and, as a result, require additional planning and coordination.

If you’ve decided that this approach might work well in your business, the next step is creating and implementing a flex schedule policy. We have created some sample language for your consideration.

Here are some additional tips and best practices to help you effectively manage flexible hours in the workplace:
• Make sure you establish clear guidelines and expectations, especially in terms of communication, availability, and collaboration.
• Set specific core hours during which all employees must be available for meetings and collaboration. This ensures sufficient overlap for teamwork and communication.
• Provide employees with tools to schedule and manage their flex hours effectively. This includes shared calendars, time-tracking software, and project management tools.
• Define clear performance metrics and goals and remind employees that they are responsible for meeting these objectives consistently.
• Evaluate performance based on results and outcomes rather than hours worked. Focus on quality of work, meeting deadlines, and achieving objectives to ensure fairness.
• Conduct regular check-ins with employees to assess progress, provide feedback, and address challenges.
• Regularly review your policy and request employee feedback to identify areas for improvement.

Informed Compensation Discussions

Do you feel a little lost in the world of compensation? You hear words coming out of someone’s mouth and you think you know what they are talking about but you’re not sure. Foundational to each discussion is understanding the terms related to the topic. While each organization might have different processes to gather information and procedures for applying the information, the terms describing compensation and related practices should be used with purpose. Below you will find a list of the most common compensation terms and processes with their customary meaning. Compensation doesn’t have to be a “black box”. Start off your next discussion a little more comfortable than you are now. Enjoy!
Annual Incentive Plan – An Annual Incentive Plan is the most common of all short-term incentive plan practices and includes a performance (merit) period of one year or less. It should complement the business strategy and be part of the overall strategy of the Total Rewards program. It is a non-discretionary award.
Benchmark Jobs – Benchmark jobs are commonly found in salary surveys and used to make pay comparisons, either internally or externally, for an organization. When selecting benchmark jobs, they should:
• Be important to your organization’s internal hierarchy,
• Represent all major job families, departments and levels, and
• Serve as an internal anchor for non-benchmark jobs.
A good goal is to match 70% of your internal jobs to the external marketplace. The more jobs that are matched, the closer the salary structure is to the external marketplace. Realistically between 50%-70% of your jobs will be found in the marketplace.
Bonus – A bonus is paid to recognize the achievements of an individual, team, department, operating unit, or a company. Payments may recognize a performance period (monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, annual) and are typically made in cash, but occasionally will be paid in equity or another form of award. A bonus may be discretionary or nondiscretionary and will have a lot to do with the laws of the state in which work is done.
Compa-Ratio – Compa-Ratio is a comparison of employee pay to the salary range midpoint.
Compensable Factors/Characteristics – Compensable factors/characteristics are used to evaluate jobs and develop a job worth hierarchy to provide fairness and equity throughout an organization. The Federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 defines the compensable factors/characteristics, and there are several states with their own set of factors/characteristics.
Compensation Benchmarking – Compensation benchmarking is best defined as the process of applying external market data to make fair and competitive compensation decisions. It may even influence the compensation strategy, policies, and practices.
Cost of Labor – The cost of labor includes all compensation, benefits, and payroll taxes paid by employers to employees and can be compared from location to location.
Cost of Living – The cost of living is tied to wages and represents the amount of money needed to maintain a certain standard of living as measured through housing, food, healthcare, and taxes and can be compared from location to location. Use cost of living data cautiously for compensation purposes as it can be much higher than the cost of labor in a location.
Grandfathering – Upon implementation of a new or revised compensation plan, grandfathering will protect the current compensation opportunity of existing employees when performing the same role in the organization and will support in minimizing employee relations issues to contribute to a successful program implementation.
Gross Up – A payment, such as a one-time award, may be grossed up so that an employee will receive the full amount even after taxes. In this instance, the company will bear that cost of the tax gross up.
Hours of Work (the math) – Assuming a regular, full-time equivalent at 40 hours per week, there are 173.33 work hours per month and 2,080 work hours per year.
Internal Equity – Internal equity is an important objective of the overall compensation program and can be accomplished when jobs are valued fairly and objectively both within a company and to the appropriate external marketplace. Employee compensation should be delivered based on fair and objective criteria (such as performance, merit, seniority, education, experience, and training) within the competitive marketplace to ensure the attainment of internal equity. Pay audits will support in the identification of internal equity issues. Several states have specific laws outlining criteria and process for internal equity.
Long-Term Incentive Plan – A long-term incentive plan is typically used to reward and recognize ongoing organizational achievements (typically ranging 2-5 years). Awards may be payable in cash or equity to the eligible management team (typically at the executive level).
Lump-Sum Merit – A one-time payment to recognize pay for performance, a lump-sum merit will not be folded into an employee’s pay. It is commonly used to recognize employees paid at the top of their salary range or as a cost savings strategy.
Market Pricing – Market pricing is a job evaluation methodology that creates a job worth hierarchy based on the “applicable market rate” for benchmark jobs in the external marketplace relevant to the business.
Market Ratio (Market Index) – Market Ratio is a comparison of employee pay to the market rate.
Merit Increase – A pay increase designed to recognize pay for performance.
Pay Transparency – Pay transparency is an approach to communicating compensation openly with employees. It typically includes the following: compensation plan documents, merit increase guidelines, market data sources, job descriptions, and employee communication for individual pay changes, including salary grade and range. Less frequently, companies might communicate other employees’ pay to all employees.
Salary Range – A salary range represents the minimum, midpoint, and maximum rates that a business is willing to pay employees performing a job. Typically, the midpoint or control point is set to provide market competitive, fair, and equitable salaries based on the competitive marketplace for a business.
Salary Range Maximum – The Salary Range Maximum is the point at which an organization would expect an employee to exceed in performance of essential responsibilities, be ready for promotion, or are highly experienced.
Salary Range Midpoint/Control Point – The Salary Range Midpoint/Control Point is the point at which an organization would expect an employee to meet essential responsibilities, be fully competent, experienced, and independent.
Salary Range Minimum – The Salary Range Minimum is the point at which an organization would expect an employee to need guidance and training to learn their essential responsibilities, grow towards proficiency, and be partially dependent on others for success.
Salary Range Midpoint Progression – The Salary Range Midpoint progression is the percent difference between midpoints.
Salary Range Spread – A salary range spread is the percent difference between the minimum and maximum.
Salary Structure Adjustment – A salary structure adjustment may be used in lieu of repricing an existing structure. In this case, a flat percentage (based on the market movement of salary structure adjustment projections) is typically applied to the midpoints of the existing salary structure to adjust them to the upcoming year. Salary structure adjustments are approximately 1% below the market movement of base salaries.

Emotional Wellness – Types of Rest

Have you complained recently to someone else that you did not get a good night sleep? Do you feel yourself dragging or feeling less than your normal self? It seems to be a regular conversation regardless of where you are or who you talk to.
Most of us have heard plenty lately about self-care and with reason! So, what do you need to do to reboot yourself? Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD is a physician and researcher. She wrote the book, Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity. While Dr. Dalton-Smith’s 7 types of rest may not appear to be earth shattering when you read the list, we believe you’ll find at least one of them will resonate with you and because it is what we ALL need. The seven types of rest are:

  1. Physical Rest – there is both a passive option, such as sleeping, napping, etc., or an active option, which involves stretching or a massage. She notes that signs of a deficit of physical rest include aches, pains, swelling in legs and feet, back spasms.
  2. Mental Rest – this involves calming an overwhelmed and overworked mind. The doctor points out a deficit is likely if you can’t sleep because your mind is racing at night, or you can’t remember more than a couple of things.
  3. Social Rest – This is the time spent with “life-giving” people versus the people who need things from us: reports, data, a phone call, etc. Those folks, while well intentioned and doing their job, drain your energy. Then there are family members who need things from us: a meal, money, a ride, etc. While we need (and want) to engage with people who need things from us, social rest is about focusing on relationship and spending time with people who do not need anything from you but rather give to you – fill your emotional cup.
  4. Spiritual Rest – Dr. Dalton-Smith is very clear this can mean different things to different people – specifically one’s own belief system. It is more about feeling a sense of belonging. She identifies a deficit when someone doesn’t feel they are doing good, or their work doesn’t have purpose. She also notes lack of an inclusive and supportive environment contributes to a spiritual deficit, i.e., a toxic work environment will rob you of spiritual rest.
  5. Sensory Rest – This refers to getting a break from the ringing phones, the notifications, screen time, Zoom calls, etc. According to Statista, 22% of us spend 3-4 hours a day, while 46% spend between 5-6 hours daily on our phones. A shocking 11% spend more than 7 hours a day. Our brains need a break from our screens.
  6. Emotional Rest – this is not about emptying our minds, but rather spending time with people where we can be our authentic selves. “Many of us carry quite a bit of emotional labor privately, in that we don’t share with people what we’re feeling.” This can be due to wanting to maintain privacy, not feeling comfortable, etc. Regardless of the reason, we need to have time on a daily basis where we can just be ourselves, let down our guard.
    Creative Rest – This refers to the time where we let ourselves enjoy the beauty around us (be present, be in the moment). This may involve taking a walk, watching a sunset, listening to music, dancing. Dr. Dalton-Smith points to a deficit when you struggle to brainstorm or solve problems. She further argues, many of us have a deficit because there was so much problem-solving due to COVID.

Dr. Dalton-Smith argues that people often have a hard time accepting the deficits because they have things they need around them (a job, a car, a home, etc.), but that does not mean you are not in need of rest. If you are feeling burned out, you need rest, and not just a solid 8-hours of sleep. Her recommendation is to begin where you have the biggest deficit and if you need assistance in figuring out where your biggest deficit lies – she has a quiz for that (please note, it may take up to 24 hours to receive your results). She provides a score for each area and the severity of the deficit.
There is good news. The renewal process is something you can start as soon as today! It begins with being intentional, thinking about how you spend your time, and reflecting on what brings you peace and joy. Small steps can have a big impact, not only on your personal well-being, but it will likely spread into your work life and family life. Where are your deficits?

Signs Managers Need Coaching Skills

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think” -Socrates
Do these observations or statements sound familiar?

  • Managers distrust teams and often employ tactics like micromanaging employees, controlling freedom, and acting superior.
  • Employees’ performance, productivity, and overall happiness seem to keep declining and harm their, sense of trust, emotional outlook, passion for work, company loyalty, and company advocacy.
  • Managers don’t understand the strength and weaknesses of each individual, preferring instead to approach coaching everyone as if they were on the same level.
  • Coaching sessions are uninteresting and lack engagement because coaching isn’t personalized to their needs and skills.
  • Teams lack basic skills and don’t know how to apply their knowledge.

Perhaps it is time to offer training for managers. One of the focal points for employers in 2023 is Manager engagement and retention. If managers are struggling and frustrated and feel like they are not doing their job well or don’t feel like they have a handle on their staff and how to help their employees meet their performance goals, they need assistance. You or your managers might need to develop focused coaching skills to be confident and competent enough to build and lead a high-performance and autonomous team to success. Manager groups with a strong sense of belonging and which practice accountability have a higher success rate. So, efforts to go beyond training that involve giving them opportunities and places to talk will be vital. Examples might include round tables, retreats, time, and places where they can workshop through a conversation or career pathing ideas for employees while building fellowship and having fun.

Ergonomics: You And Your Staff Deserve To Work Pain Free

Have your employees complained that they are uncomfortable in their physical work environment? Do they complain of back, neck, or wrist pain or other physical discomforts?

Both answers give you important and valuable information. If you answered “Yes,” what  are you currently doing to address this issue? If you answered “No,” how do you know this is true? There are many reasons employees might not complain. Are they afraid of speaking up for fear of being scene as difficult or disgruntled? Or are they afraid to speak up for another reason?

HR folks often allow employees to pick and choose a “product solution” for their discomfort. This does not address the “HOW.” How do you use this new product using neutral posture principles AND is this product solution the “REAL” solution to the underlying issue? Let’s say someone has wrist pain, they get a new mouse but don’t know how to use it properly and their wrist problem does not get better but gets worse. Maybe the mouse was not the issue to begin with – it could have been caused by a non-neutral position, i.e.: reaching too far out to the mouse or maybe the person’s mousing height was incorrect and that was the cause of the issue. Ergonomics deal with root causes and takes the guessing out of the equation.

This is where an ergonomic professional comes in. They can help your employees who have physical discomforts feel better, have more energy and be more productive by teaching and training them in neutral posture (ergonomics). But even more important they can help you keep healthy people to STAY healthy. Ergonomics is a preventative tool. Kind of like brushing your teeth. We don’t wait to get a cavity; we brush them regularly to PREVENT cavities from occurring in the first place. Simple steps can make a BIG difference.

Here are examples which show that working from home without workplace assessments or appropriate equipment has increased musculoskeletal discomforts.

A study showed more than one-third reported more aches, pain, and discomforts in the neck (37%) and back (35%) than usual. An increased level of fatigue was seen at 42%. ~ from: Wellbeing under lockdown, Occupational Health at Work

With two in five workers reporting new pain or increased pain in their shoulders, back, or wrists, its time to make home workstations more ergonomically sound. ~

Ergo Pandemic Study: Chubb

Here is an example from an ergonomic point of view when walking into a meeting or video conferencing in with employees: a five foot tall woman was sitting in a room with three identical desks and chairs. In that room was the five foot tall woman, a man over six feet tall, and a person of “average” height. All working at three identical desks, with their keyboard, and monitors at the same height. Do you think this solution was working for any of them? The answer is No! All three people had obvious different physical characteristics, yet they were working at identical work areas. Of course, aches and pain will follow, it is just a matter of time. Obtaining adjustable equipment or having the existing equipment adjusted for individual physiques, should be standard. You and your staff deserve to work pain free all of the time.

It is important for employers to remember that standard height desks and standard height monitors can never fit all the different kinds of physiques employees have.

How ergonomics can benefit your organization:

  • Workers’ compensation – Invest money in your employee’s health and wellbeing to save you money in the long run
  • Happier employees lead to higher productivity
  • Probably the most overlooked aspect is having your employees feel cared for. As one person stated “I feel different about my employer knowing they care about my physical wellbeing. I have never had that feeling before in working for a company. It makes me feel important and that what I do and how I do it is valuable.”
  • Employee retention
  • Reduced missed days at work due to discomforts
  • Help employees feel good and have more energy

How you can use ergonomic services for you and your employees:

Individual work-site assessments identify potential sources/causes of discomfort, pain, and fatigue. These assessments focus on:

  • Improved work practices and techniques
  • Adjustments to the work environment
  • Selection of equipment or furniture as needed

Virtual ergonomic classes cover principles including:

  • Ergonomics in general
  • Adjusting the chair for comfort and positioning
  • Adjusting the keying/mousing height and positioning
  • Adjusting monitor height and distance

Interested in learning more? Please feel free to connect with Serafine Lilien, MS at She has 20 years of experience and has completed over 15,000 ergonomic evaluations. Reach out to her for classes, training information, and individual ergonomic evaluations for you and your staff. You can visit her website at: She also has an ergo tip newsletter and you can email her to get on her list.

Hiring Is A Big Deal – Use The Right Tools

According to a 2020 Harris Poll, 70% of employers check out applicants’ profiles as part of their screening process, and 54% have rejected applicants because of what they found. Social media sites like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram offer a free, easily accessed portrait of what a candidate is may be like, potentially yielding a clearer idea of whether that person will succeed on the job—however, one should be asking if what is seen has anything to do with the job?

Very little of what you find is predictive of performance. What information is discovered is ethically discouraged or, in some cases, legally prohibited from being taken into account when used to evaluate candidates or make your hiring decisions. So extreme caution should be used when accessing this information.

There were three studies conducted offering employers’ insight into recruiting concerns and flaws. In the first of the three studies, the researchers examined the Facebook pages of 266 U.S. job seekers to see what they revealed. Some of the information that job seekers had posted (education, work experience, and extra­curricular activities) covered areas that organizations routinely and legitimately assess during the hiring process. But a significant number of the profiles contained details that organizations will be legally prohibited from considering, including gender, race, and ethnicity (evident in 100% of profiles), disabilities (7%), pregnancy status (3%), sexual orientation (59%), political views (21%), and religious affiliation (41%). Many of the job seekers’ profiles also included information of potential concern to prospective employers: 51% of them contained profanity, 11% gave indications of gambling, 26% showed or referenced alcohol consumption, and 7% referenced drug use.

This may give you a peek into why recruiters love social media—it allows them to discover all the information and details they aren’t allowed to ask about during an interview. Remember, our interviews need to focus on behaviors within the work context.

In a second study, the researchers explored whether such information affects recruiters’ evaluations. They asked 39 recruiters to review the Face­book profiles of 140 job seekers (obtained from a previous larger study) and rate each candidate’s hireability. The researchers then mapped the recruiters’ ratings against the content in each profile. Although the recruiters clearly took heed of legitimate criteria, they were also swayed by factors that are supposedly off-limits, such as relationship status (married and engaged candidates got higher marks, on average, than their single counterparts), age (older individuals were rated more highly), gender (women had an advantage), and religion (candidates who indicated their beliefs got lower ratings). Factors such as profanity, alcohol or drug use, violence, and sexual behavior lowered ratings; extracurricular activities had no effect on scores.

In the final study, the overall outcome: neither group’s assessments of the candidates accurately predicted job performance or turnover intentions, indicating that hiring representatives stand to gain little from probing applicants’ online activity. Details on the third study can be found with the information below.

There are better options! Steps and actions within your control and job preview. Please consider your candidate experience from beginning to end. Think of the questions you are asking: focus on questions that provide insight to the applicant’s emotional intelligence, to their soft skills that make them successful in the job, situational and behavioral questions focusing on their behaviors of the past, as well as cultural questions to confirm the applicant is in alignment with the values and mission of the organization. Ask about work related pet peeves, what motivates them, best work environments, greatest accomplishments, etc. Think about what they are bringing to the table today and what they bring that will benefit the organization in the future so that you are hiring for today and for tomorrow. Ask them what they want to learn. Seriously, you want to develop your employees over time. What do they want to learn? How do they want to learn it? How do they think they learn best? What can they teach others? Wrap this up with your onboarding process and training. Please do not forget or rush this step. This time sets the stage for the employment relationship which equals retention.

Side Note: participants in the studies willingly granted the researchers permission to view their Facebook pages—but as we know in many cases hiring managers don’t need to ask, because profiles are often public. What’s more, previous research found that a third of U.S. recruiters request access to candidates’ Facebook pages, and the vast majority of job seekers comply. As we know, that is changing. More than 20 U.S. states now prohibit employers from asking applicants to pull up their social media pages during an interview or to share their usernames and passwords. EU regulators go a step further, forbidding hiring managers from viewing a candidate’s social media unless that person explicitly consents.

About the research: “What’s on Job Seekers’ Social Media Sites? A Content Analysis and Effects of Structure on Recruiter Judgments and Predictive Validity,” by Liwen Zhang et al. (Journal of Applied Psychology, 2020)

Time for Open Enrollment Planning

Your 2023 benefits open enrollment period is approaching and new needs will pop up as we continue with our hybrid workplaces. You will have to decide whether conducting your meeting in person, virtual, or a mix is going to be best for your employees. You need to ask yourself: 

Are you able to have all-staff meetings, or do you need employees to meet in smaller groups to avoid disruptions in production or safety considerations?

Are there some employees who will be best served by meeting in-person, while others will need to go through open enrollment virtually?

Whatever option you pick, your communication planning is paramount. Your messaging is important and the medium you use (well-crafted emails, brochures, and reminders) live, in-person, or virtual meetings vs. pre-recorded can also be productive and offer the opportunity as an on-demand feature. Your considerations may be number of employees, locations, employee tenure, your benefit offerings, the changes that need communicating, etc. 

We are sharing some checklist items from Celeste DaVault from USI and Deena Harvanek from Mercer along with some of ours as the backdrop to suggestions and planning steps for your consideration:

Make a plan and develop a strategy

  • Review your notes from what worked and what did not work from last year.
  • Set goals and measures for outreach, use of digital resources, and enrollment.
  • Conduct employee surveys or conduct employee listening sessions (when, how, who).
  • Determine your media plan, develop key messages, and identify all audiences, making content personal, simple, and direct.
  • Consider that most employees base their enrollment decisions on; answers to four basic questions: What is it? What’s in it for me? How does it work? How do I sign up?

 Get the word out

  • Let employees know it is coming…and your deadlines.
  • Think generational – what works best with each of your populations to hit your targets.
  • Distribute a pre-enrollment flier (printed and online).
  • Hold a virtual benefits fair
  • Who will attend – all of your providers/partners? Any incentives offered? Single event or multiple sessions/days?
  • Distribute an enrollment packet, again with a reminder of due dates (printed and online).

 Ready, set, go!

  • Launch enrollment through a benefits portal, for a period of about three weeks.
  • Take this opportunity to rethink your approach to open enrollment – create opportunities for “open door office hours” if people need to talk one-on-one.

 Measure success

  • Consider your stakeholders. What is it they want and need to know?
  • Developing year-round communications,
  • Research and update your offerings and support services
  • Track the results of your efforts. If possible, gather data related to:
  • Health plan and retirement plan elections
  • Increased contributions
  • Video views and material downloads
  • Email open rates and click throughs

An additional observation for your consideration: Often times employees do not know what they had….what was offered until they “need” it or until they leave. So, take this concept and work backwards with “how do I convey the messages I want or need the employees to hear and understand?”