Category Archives: Employees

The High Turnover Challenge

help wanted

In the restaurant and hospitality industry, high turnover is the norm and one of the most challenging aspects of management.  Yet, it can be extremely frustrating not being able to retain good employees and continuously deal with the stress of trying to fill positions with good candidates.  It can be a lengthy and costly process, and one that we would all love to avoid.

So how do you lessen your turnover rate and retain your best employees?

1. Provide Recognition and Rewards for Good Job Performance

Employees like to be recognized for their hard work and going above and beyond their call of duty.  It is important to promote from within so that your employees have something to strive for and don’t feel like they are in a dead-end job.  Also during staff meetings, recognize employees for their hard work.  You can even start a reward program.  After receiving a certain number of recognitions, they get a small prize.  It is also great to get them involved and have them nominate a fellow employee each month.  Giving your employees this task can lead to positive and respectful relationships amongst each other.

2. Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

EAP’s are intended to help employees with personal matters that might affect their work performance, health, and well-being.  Providing the option of an EAP shows your commitment to them and gives them a sense of security.  Offering an EAP can lead your employees to feel a sense of loyalty to your business.

3. Develop Relationships

Getting to know your employees on more than a professional level shows that you care about them.  Asking them about their family and personal interests can help build a strong relationship between you and your employees.  If you create a sense of family among your employees, it will lead to a great work environment, and they will feel a sense of commitment to you.

4. Motivate and Educate

Providing an educational environment for your employees can motivate them to flourish in their job.  Teaching your employees about different aspects of your business that aren’t necessarily part of their job can show that you care about their success and regard them as an important part of your business.  Encouraging employees to come up with new ideas for your business and taking time to listen to their ideas also gives them a sense of self-worth and importance.

 5. Community Charity Events

Sponsoring community charity events that your employees can participate in, such as 5K runs, walk-a-thons, etc., can create a sense of family and can be a team building experience.  It will bring you and your employees closer together, and provide a sense of belonging.

All the above suggestions can lead to creating a respectful, loyal, and family oriented environment for your business.  By creating this type of environment, I believe you will retain your best employees for a much longer period of time.

To help lessen turnover in the first place, employ a hiring system that helps you identify the best, most qualified and engaged candidates.  Systems that have ranking questions and are paired with an assessment tool can really help employers hone in on the best candidates who are more likely to fit the job and the culture, thereby reducing turnover in the first place.  If you are interested in learning more about such a system, visit http://redbookconnect.com/solutions/hire.

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect

Don’t Get Frozen By ICE

ICE

Ensuring all I-9 forms are compliant when onboarding a new hire can be an excruciating task.  However, maintaining compliance is necessary, otherwise it can lead to hefty fines.  According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fines have skyrocketed to over $10 million.  ICE also issued over 3,000 Notices of Inspection (NOI) in FY 2012.

What industries does ICE target?  Primarily restaurants, retail, and hospitality due to high turnover rates, hourly workforce wages, and hiring a large number of immigrants, as well as high school diploma or below – educated employees.  If I-9 forms are not completed accurately, it may result in a fine of $110 to $1,100 per employee, depending on the percentage of non-compliant or missing forms. ICE also has the right to increase or decrease fines based on employer size, good faith of employer, and violation type.

Here are just a few examples of businesses that have been fined by ICE these past few years.  In California, a small Mexican restaurant, La Hacienda Mexican Cafe was fined more than $22,400 for not completing I-9 forms for 24 of their employees.  In Maryland, Tandoori Nights who maintains around 39 employees, faced a hefty fine of $90,508 based on 10 non-compliant forms.  In Colorado, Empire Dairy received a fine of $49,500 based on 62 non-compliant forms, with a total of 76 employees.

As you can see, these fines can be detrimental to your business.  So, how do you avoid fines?  Here are 8 ways to reduce your risk of I-9 non-compliance.

  1. Make sure all employees complete the form I-9.
  2. Review and make sure all sections of the form have been completed properly.
  3. Ensure section 1 is completed by employee no later than the first day of employment.
  4. Complete section 2 within three business days thereafter.
  5. Examine documents provided by employee validating their identity, and record the information on the form I-9.
  6. Use E-Verify to ensure legal workforce.
  7. File and retain form I-9 for three years from the date of hire or one year from the date of termination, whichever is later.
  8. Use a secure, online onboarding system such as GoHire, which ensures completion of form I-9, provides the option of E-Verify, and stores all forms virtually.

Being compliant is important and should be taken seriously.  Paperless onboarding your employees with a system like GoHire provides the security of form I-9 completions and proper storage of forms so that maintaining compliance is stress-free.  Take the next step at ensuring compliance so you don’t get frozen by ICE.  Go paperless and onboard online with GoHire!

Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only. Information provided through this website should never replace the need for involving informed counsel on your employment and immigration issues.  To learn more about I-9 compliance, go to http://www.uscis.gov.

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect

Are You Keeping Your Employees Safe?

ID Theft

Did you know there are approximately 50 million victims of identity theft each year?  Recently in Colorado, a sophisticated ID theft ring broke into various stores and stole employees’ records from safes and filing cabinets including copies of blank checks, driver’s licenses, and social security numbers.  Storing hard copies of your employees’ information, even if locked in a filing cabinet or safe, can be extremely risky.  Safeguarding your employees’ information is important and good business.

Below are 5 key principles that the Federal Trade Commission recommends when securing highly sensitive information.

1. Take Stock – Assess and keep inventory of all sensitive information you have for each employee by type and location.  Ensure it is in a secure area at all times and only a minimum number of people have access to it.  Keep track of who has access to the sensitive data at all times.

2. Scale Down – Keep only the information that you need and only as long as needed.  Dispose of any unnecessary sensitive information.  Also, only use social security numbers as necessary.  It isn’t essential to use social security numbers as an employee identification number.

3. Lock It – If you do have hard copies of sensitive information, ensure to lock them in a secure location, such as locked safe or filing cabinet in a locked up room.  Limit employee access to the locked location, and keep track of who has a key and the number of keys.  Ensure that keys are kept with employee at all times.  Also, make sure not to leave employee information out in a public area unattended.  Please note that even with all these safety precautions, it can be easy for a professional thief to break open a filing cabinet or safe.

Electronic security is probably the most secure way of storing employee information due to the difficulty of trying to break into one’s secured data on a computer.  However, there are still a few precautions you need to take when storing data electronically.  Make sure you keep your login and password information secured.  Don’t give out your password unless necessary.  Also, don’t leave sensitive information on your computer screen unattended.  Most importantly, ensure that all sensitive data is kept on a secured server, and run up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on your computers.  Lastly, do not scan and email employee information.  It is best to use a secured online system to complete and store employee’s sensitive information.

4. Pitch It – Shred, shred, shred!  If you have hard copied sensitive information that you want to get rid of, make sure to shred or burn it so that it can’t be read or reconstructed.  If you want to dispose of sensitive information on your computer, use software to securely erase data, usually called wipe utility programs.  This will overwrite the entire hard drive so files cannot be recovered.  Deleting files using your keyboard or mouse does not completely wipeout the files and can potentially be recovered.

5. Plan Ahead – Have a plan in place in case identity theft occurs.  If filing cabinets or safes have been stolen or tempered with, contact the authorities and alert your employees immediately.  If you have sensitive information on a computer and it has been compromised, disconnect the computer immediately from your network.  If an incident does occur, you should consult your attorney.

It is extremely important to protect your employees from identity theft.  GoHire’s onboarding system can help you protect your employees by storing their personal information in a secure, virtual environment.  GoHire provides standard forms with sensitive information such as the I-9, W-4, and Direct Deposit Enrollment for new hires to complete and sign all online so there is no paper trail.

For more information regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s guide to protecting sensitive information for your business, please go to http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus69-protecting-personal-information-guide-business.

If you would like more information about Red Book Connect’s solution, GoHire, please visit our website at http://redbookconnect.com/hiring-gohire/.

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect

The Art of Delegating

delegatingThe definition of “delegate” is to commit or entrust to another.  To commit or entrust to another?  Haven’t we always learned to be careful who to trust?  To be independent?  I can even recall my mother saying, “If you want something done to your satisfaction, do it yourself.”

Delegating can feel unnatural.  I’ll be the first to admit to having trouble delegating.  I’ve used the excuses, “it takes longer to explain what needs to be done then to just do it myself”, and, “if I do it myself, I know it will get done quickly and efficiently”.  I’ve learned in both my professional and personal life, however, that I can’t do everything myself. Delegating is an essential task that we must accomplish when managing a business.  No manager can run a business effectively without help.  In the August 2013 article from Inc., 5 Steps to Delegating Wisely, bestselling author Peter Economy shares 5 ways to delegate effectively: 

1.      Be Clear and Concise

Be very clear about both the assignment and the expected outcome — but avoid the temptation to tell your people exactly how to do their assigned tasks. Instead, describe the goal and then let them find the best approach. By allowing your team to work in the way they believe most effective, you will increase their creativity and initiative while boosting their self-esteem.

2.      Grant the Necessary Authority

Anytime you delegate a task, you also need to delegate the authority — the organizational power and resources — required to get the job done. Without this, your employees will have a much harder time doing what you’ve asked. They may even become frustrated and resentful that you’ve given them assignments that they cannot reasonably complete.

3.      Get Buy-In

Be sure to get your employees’ acknowledgement that they understand assignments and agree to take on the responsibility for completion. If they have any questions or concerns, it’s important to find out at the outset, rather than once projects are well underway.

4.      Monitor Progress

Monitoring your team’s work does two things: it motivates them and it helps you catch problems early. It’s important to know the degree of monitoring necessary for each task and each employee. An inexperienced employee, for example, will need tight control, while loose controls are appropriate for those who already know the ropes. 

5.      Correct When Necessary

If progress veers too far from the discussed guidelines, it’s time for you to take immediate and decisive corrective action. Do this first through verbal discussion, in-person whenever possible. Agree on a plan to return to targeted goals and explain the consequences for not getting back on track. But if the situation doesn’t quickly improve, you may need to take the task back and delegate it to someone else.

Delegating is a crucial component to managing successfully.  By giving your employees responsibilities, it will not only free up your time to manage your business efficiently, but you will also gain respect from your employees.  Sounds like a great recipe to a successful business!

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect

References:

1. http://www.inc.com/peter-economy/5-steps-delegating-wisely.html

Does it Pay to Train?

Training1I don’t think anyone would disagree that training is an essential part of the service industry.  The training and professionalism of your employees directly impacts customer satisfaction and loyalty.  However, during the recent recession, many businesses cut training from their budgets, and now they are beginning to feel the consequences.  Under-trained employees have resulted in lower customer satisfaction, which is affecting the bottom line of many businesses.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2013 Workplace Forecast, there is currently a shortage of skilled/experienced candidates to fill many critical positions.  This is due in part to the postponement and elimination of training among employers over the past few years.  During the recession, business operators could afford to be less concerned with retention because there were very limited opportunities to find alternative employment.  However, these same business leaders are now beginning to feel the pressure to keep employees happy, particularly their top talent. In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA) 2013 Industry Forecast, the restaurant and food service industry will see an increase of 1.3 million jobs over the next 10 years.  This will inevitably shrink the available labor pool, increase competition amongst business owners for top talent, and provide fewer experienced candidates to fill key customer-facing positions.  According to the Association, operators from all restaurant segments are now boosting their training budgets in an effort to develop their current employees and enhance productivity.

Training employees, however, does not have to be expensive.  eLearning courses are becoming more popular, especially within high-growth industries.  And now, with the introduction of social learning, which provides a more interactive, engaging learning environment where learners can share information, exchange ideas and knowledge and have discussions, eLearning has evolved beyond the lonely, individual experience.  Social learning provides the best of both worlds by combining the ease and reduced costs of eLearning, while adding in the critical element of sharing, discussion, and interaction normally reserved for classroom experiences.  In addition, social eLearning can provide the following additional benefits:

1. Vast Course Selections – Social learning academies (shameless self-promotion alert!), such as Schoox, provides an elaborate library of courses to choose from in various subjects, for all types of businesses.  Some courses are actually free!  You can choose the courses that best fit your business and make them available for your employees.  Development of customized courses are also available by uploading your own content.  These courses can also be made private so only your employees can view them.

2. Develop Employee Curriculums – Create full curriculums for specific job positions by combining customized and/or available public online courses.  Many social learning tools will also give you the option to develop exams to better assess your employees.  Once your employees have completed their courses, you can create customized badges and certificates for them.  This gives your employees a sense of accomplishment, achievement, and growth.

3. Learning From Peers – Develop topics for discussion boards so your employees can share their experiences and knowledge.  You can also create different groups and choose if you want them to be private or public.  For example, you can create a private group specifically for your managers which allows them to collaborate with one another, and even share content and files with each other.

4. Provide Training Flexibility – Let your employees take the required online courses during non-working hours and at their leisure.  Give them a deadline on course completion, but let them decide what time of day is best for them to complete the courses.  Remember, the online social learning environment that you provide is ongoing and just as important (if not more) as the courses.

5.  Easily Track Employees Progress and Completion – Using an social learning system will allow you to track your employees progress and completion of courses by providing statistical reports.  The reports will analyze total progress, time spent, and test results.

Social learning academies, such as Schoox, can provide an inexpensive, yet effective training environment for employees.  With the continual growth of the service industry over the next 10 years, retaining employees is important.  Providing employees the tools to grow and learn is instrumental in the success of any business.  It will not only increase employee satisfaction, but customer satisfaction as well, and therefore, increase your bottom line.

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect

The Glue That Keeps It Together

What is the glue that holds things together at your company? It might be the people you work with; your fellow employees.  It’s more of a trickle up than trickle down philosophy. Employees are what hold most companies together. Employees do the work, and play out the company’s objectives/mission. Needless to say, without them you don’t have much. So how do you keep them going when the tank is only half full or nearly empty?

People-Glue_Bottle1

Communicate – Make it easy for employees to stay up to date on important information like schedules, store messages, roster and contact information; which can all be posted internally or accessed online or by mobile. HotSchedules offers a great web-based scheduling and information tool that managers can implement. The best part is it’s web-based so you can manage internal employee communication from anywhere.

Listen – Don’t talk down to or at employees – listen to what they have to say. Some of the best creative ideas from major companies have come from employees. Take Best Buy for example. After assembling women employees for a focus group on how to make the store more attractive to female shoppers, they realized they weren’t targeting that underserved market. They also found that women spent more money and returned less often.

Have fun – You can’t be all business all the time. Having fun and giving breaks is key. Events, contests and incentive programs give employees a much needed break from all of their hard work. We have a company picnic coming up and hosted employees at a Rockies baseball game a few weeks ago. Not only are these events fun, they help employees build relationships and friendships at work. This, in turn, builds trust and people learn how to work with each other based on their personalities.  Studies show that people who have friends at work are generally more satisfied and engaged than their counterparts.

Provide opportunities – Give employees the opportunity to grow through education or positions within the company. E-learning is becoming a very popular and easy way to give employees an opportunity to learn and educate themselves on off times during lunch, on a break or away from the office. Schoox is a new e-learning platform with a varied catalog of free and paid courses focusing on content as diverse as the service industry or foreign languages.

Don’t forget, most people don’t want to be stale. People want to grow! Make sure you keep employees informed of open positions and make them available to all employees. This can help create a sense of accomplishment and drive.

Ecosystem – Who doesn’t like working in a friendly and clean environment? Well, most of us do. Have designated spots for employees to take breaks, and keep areas like restrooms in tip top shape. The surrounding environment can boost moral. Atmospherics isn’t just used in stores and restaurants to sell goods and services, it can be used to improve how employees feel and work.

These are just a few of many ideas for how to fuel your employees for greatness and keep them on top. Workers who are happy,  love where they work and feel appreciated rub off on others and push the company to greatness. So don’t wait too long to implement these best practices. Get started today!

By Crystal Gardner, Marketing Production Manager at Red Book Solutions | 6 Years Marketing and Project Management Experience in Agency, Corporate and Private Institutions | University of DenverDaniels College of Business, Office Of Communications & Marketing, Office Manager

Employee and Manager Engagement Can Give Your Organization a Boost

employee-trifectaGood news!  According to research recently published by Gallup (http://www.gallup.com ), employee engagement appears to be improving and the segment that showed the largest gain between 2009 and 2012 is managers and executives.  That study showed that manager engagement is up by 10 percentage points to 36%, leading all other categories of workers.

There’s bad news too if you work in a service industry.  That segment was the only one that dropped – down to 29% from 32%.

The reasons for these changes aren’t clear, but there may be some things we can rely on.  Engaged leaders tend to create engaged employees.  The Gallup study suggests that service industry organizations may have had a harder time recovering from the economic downturn and re-engaging their employees, so it is vitally important for managers in those organizations to pay attention to the do’s and don’ts of engagement.

The “do’s” are widely recognized.  An engaged manager is more likely to express positive feelings about work and the people at work.  The manager’s positive feelings translate to positive actions which help others feel engaged.  Engaged managers tend to listen more, be empathetic, be better coaches and generally focus on the people around them.  (http://theengagedmanager.com)  They encourage and reward good work and support the development of healthy working relationships among staff members.  They also allow employees to develop new skills or build on existing strengths.  Finally, it’s vital that engaged managers spread the feeling that the work people do is meaningful.  (http://www.the-happy-manager.com/tips/happy-company/)

Think of an engaged manager as a work team’s coach, just like the coach of an athletic team.  It’s tough to go out and give a strong performance each game without some good pre-game focus, cheerleaders to support you, enthusiastic fans and a good “win one for the Gipper” (www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/win-one-for-the-gipper.html) halftime speech.  As a long-time sports fan, I have watched numerous contests where the underdog has come out strong, showing that they believe in themselves and their chances to win.  Engaged managers help their teams believe they can win.

Some people aren’t blessed with the cheerleader-type personality and may have to use more subtle ways of inspiring their teams, but whichever personality you are, there are some “engagement killers” to avoid. If the people in the organization don’t trust or have any relationship with managers, feel that politics play a large part in company decisions, question the direction of the company or feel they aren’t fairly compensated, even engaged managers may have an uphill battle.  (Forbes article from 5/11/09 by J.P. Miller)

One manager whose team engagement was in need of a boost used the Gallup employee engagement survey questions to help his team work through a business problem and monitor their investment in the project.  This level of effort may not be possible for every organization, but the manager’s feedback is valuable.  He said, “It’s hard to help employees feel engaged when they feel like things are happening to them.  But when they feel that things are happening because of them, engagement is nearly impossible to stop.” (http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/16204/applying-employee-engagement-specific…)

This holds true for both managers and employees.  If you’re not currently in the 36% of managers who are engaged at work, see what you can do to express your own enthusiasm for the things you do like about your job, connect with others at work and do what you can to make a difference.  If you are already in the 36%, make sure you show why and help others get on board.  It’s just another way to help your company score!

By, Nancy Lane, Human Resource Manager at Red Book Solutions and B2A, LLC – 30 years of experience in education, medical imaging, oil & gas and business
services.