More and more we are seeing a shift away the annual appraisal system. It can be a costly and timely exercise. Where they are done due to process, employees can end up feeling dissatisfied rather than more engaged. Performance management is increasingly deemed to be an ongoing process and not an annual event. An employee can easily go on the defensive when something is brought up at their annual review that was never mentioned to them before. Likewise the employee could highlight issues to the manager, which if given the opportunity could have been discussed and resolved months earlier. Performance management can only truly be effective when it becomes part of an organisation’s and its employee’s daily actions. The new method of performance management is to foster an ongoing culture of informal and spontaneous performance reviews through ongoing feedback, coaching, support and guidance. This can be done in conjunction with a more formal process which will avoid any bombshells dropped by either party at an annual review. It is now rather a continuation of an already ongoing conversation. Pre-requisites of ongoing performance management: Establish clear goals. This should happen at induction and be repeated on an ongoing basis. Coach along the way, identify weaknesses and areas for development, recognise success and encourage conversation. Golden rules of giving feedback: Constructive feedback is always more effective the closer it is to the event. The risk of waiting for a formal review is the possibility of the employee resenting that they were not told earlier and given the opportunity to improve. They could also continue with the ‘wrong behaviour’ in blissful ignorance. Equally positive feedback can reinforce the right behaviour and really motivate staff. Give specific feedback, don’t be vague. Explain the consequences both positive and negative, of doing the job correctly or incorrectly. Is this the right setting, do you risk embarrassing the employee if it is in front of others? Would a private setting be better? The employee needs to know that feedback is provided to develop them, not to punish them. Are they listening? Do they know what is expected of them going forward? Why not check by asking them to tell you what they will do from here on going forward and see if their answer is in line with what you had in mind. If it differs do you need to adapt? Collaboration – Listen Listen Listen! Why does the employee feel there has been poor performance? What suggestions do they have for improvement? Benefits of effective performance management to an organisation include: Hold on to your top talent! Employees including your highest performers are less likely to leave. Employees are incentivised to perform at a high level. Empowered Employees! A culture of employee accountability is fostered. As the employee becomes more independent, learns more skills and takes on greater responsibility the management job becomes easier. Identify problem areas quicker. Poor performance can be identified and improved. Your customer will have a better experience. Employees will be more motivated when they have been coached and received feedback. No matter what terms are used to describe it: coaching, feedback, goal setting, measuring performance, development etc., the common trend is that companies are striving to make performance management ingrained in the daily culture of the organisation and the actions of its employees and management. This may or may not be coupled with a formal annual appraisal system, with or without a ratings system. Either way increased two-way ongoing communication should lead to a more open and honest relationship between a manager and their employee, a workforce that are motivated and understand their role within the larger organisation as well as a more productive and effective performance by the individual, the team and the company. More and more we are seeing a shift away the annual appraisal system. It can be a costly and timely exercise. Where they are done due to process, employees can end up feeling dissatisfied rather than more engaged. Performance management is increasingly deemed to be an ongoing process and not an annual event. An employee can easily go on the defensive when something is brought up at their annual review that was never mentioned to them before. Likewise the employee could highlight issues to the manager, which if given the opportunity could have been discussed and resolved months earlier. Performance management can only truly be effective when it becomes part of an organisation’s and its employee’s daily actions. The new method of performance management is to foster an ongoing culture of informal and spontaneous performance reviews through ongoing feedback, coaching, support and guidance. This can be done in conjunction with a more formal process which will avoid any bombshells dropped by either party at an annual review. It is now rather a continuation of an already ongoing conversation. Pre-requisites of ongoing performance management: Establish clear goals. This should happen at induction and be repeated on an ongoing basis. Coach along the way, identify weaknesses and areas for development, recognise success and encourage conversation. Golden rules of giving feedback: Constructive feedback is always more effective the closer it is to the event. The risk of waiting for a formal review is the possibility of the employee resenting that they were not told earlier and given the opportunity to improve. They could also continue with the ‘wrong behaviour’ in blissful ignorance. Equally positive feedback can reinforce the right behaviour and really motivate staff. Give specific feedback, don’t be vague. Explain the consequences both positive and negative, of doing the job correctly or incorrectly. Is this the right setting, do you risk embarrassing the employee if it is in front of others? Would a private setting be better? The employee needs to know that feedback is provided to develop them, not to punish them. Are they listening? Do they know what is expected of them going forward? Why not check by asking them to tell you what they will do from here on going forward and see if their answer is in line with what you had in mind. If it differs do you need to adapt? Collaboration – Listen Listen Listen! Why does the employee feel there has been poor performance? What suggestions do they have for improvement? Benefits of effective performance management to an organisation include: Hold on to your top talent! Employees including your highest performers are less likely to leave. Employees are incentivised to perform at a high level. Empowered Employees! A culture of employee accountability is fostered. As the employee becomes more independent, learns more skills and takes on greater responsibility the management job becomes easier. Identify problem areas quicker. Poor performance can be identified and improved. Your customer will have a better experience. Employees will be more motivated when they have been coached and received feedback. No matter what terms are used to describe it: coaching, feedback, goal setting, measuring performance, development etc., the common trend is that companies are striving to make performance management ingrained in the daily culture of the organisation and the actions of its employees and management. This may or may not be coupled with a formal annual appraisal system, with or without a ratings system. Either way increased two-way ongoing communication should lead to a more open and honest relationship between a manager and their employee, a workforce that are motivated and understand their role within the larger organisation as well as a more productive and effective performance by the individual, the team and the company.
Every company will have to face the reality of losing top staff at some point or another. This is just an inevitable part of the working world. While it is disappointing to receive that letter of resignation from a talented employee, don’t despair; it’s not the end of the world. There are a number of things that you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible for you, your soon-to be-former employee and your team. Don’t overreact While it’s not the news you want to hear, there’s no point in flying off the handle when you receive word of a trusted employee’s intention to leave. It’s not the end of the world. These things happen and you now need to focus on moving forward without the employee. Face to face meeting Sit down with the employee and try to find out as much as possible about their reasons for seeking a move. Maybe there are only a few minor issues, which can be ironed out. A lot can be learned from such a meeting. If there are specific aspects of their role that they are unhappy with then it is useful to know about them so you can implement changes if necessary. More often than not though, people change jobs as they feel that the new position represents a better career opportunity. You may not agree with them but you should always wish them well and move on. Remain on good terms An important employee handing in their notice can come as a bolt from the blue. However it’s better for everyone if you accept it gracefully and wish them well in their future career. This will reflect well on you not only with the employee in question but with the rest of your staff also. If a star member leaves on good terms he/she should at the very least speak well of you and who knows, may even come back to the company one day. Assess how you’ll replace departing staff The temptation with many companies is to get the soon to be vacant position advertised ASAP. This can be a mistake however. Don’t rush into it. Reassess the original job specification. Has the position changed in the time that the outgoing employee held it? Discuss this with the employee and make sure you have a clear picture of the ideal candidate to fill the role. This should give you every chance of getting the best person for the job. Oversee a transition phase When the employee leaves, you will more than likely have other staff picking up extra duties and filling in for them until the position is filled with a new hire. It’s vital that the outgoing employee sits down with the person or people who will be doing this and goes through all the tasks and responsibilities that the role entails. You do not want a situation where an employee leaves, taking valuable know how and expertise with them. This needs to be transferred to staff that will be covering the role before it’s permanently filled. Counter-offers You can only judge each situation on its merits but be wary of making counter-offers to employees in the hope of getting them to stay. Generally people want to go because they see the other job as providing new opportunities and challenges. Offering more money or extra responsibility may not be enough to appease someone who wants a change. Even if they do accept, will their heart really be in the job and will they be looking for a move again a few months down the line. Also, if they do accept, how will their improved terms go down with their colleagues? Losing a top employee is not something that any organisation wants to be faced with. Although undesirable it is not necessarily a disaster. People move on and so do companies. If the situation is handled correctly the departure shouldn’t affect the organisation too much in the long run. Good staff will usually work out their notice period in a professional and productive manner and if they leave on good terms they might even return in the future.
A salary guide is great for candidates to benchmark their current position in the marketplace but it can also be great for employers and hiring managers when recruiting for open positions in their business. Four reasons for this include: Salary Guidelines Our consultants recruit for numerous roles throughout the year in vastly different industries and areas across Ireland. We use their experiences to pull together realistic salary guideline to help candidates and clients manage their expectations. These figures can be used by clients to help them understand their industry and competitors which will result in hiring valuable employees whose earnings equal the cost of their labour. Identify Trends That Can Effect A Person’s Application For changing industries like IT and the digital sphere where different skills and languages are constantly coming online there is the requirement to understand what is valuable to positions that you are looking to recruit for. Salary guides are great because consultants provide commentary on each industry offering an overview of the marketplace for the reader which will help them when hiring for new positions. Benchmark Against Previous Years No two years are the same and it is the same for salaries and trends. For new companies, or companies entering new territory, salary surveys can be of vital importance when making decisions and preparing hiring and budget processes. Your talent is the most important element of your company so getting this right is your most critical action. It Can Help With Salary Negotiations Knowing the value of a new hire is very important but at some stage an existing employee will come to you asking for a raise and salary guides can help you understand the market value of the skills and abilities that your talent possesses, as well as underlining what added value employees can gain through upskilling into new and improving areas of their trade.
The HR market in Ireland is experiencing increased growth and movement and competition for top talent is still as fierce as ever. The HR Team in Sigmar have compiled a list of themes and questions relating to them that we have seen coming up in HR interviews over the past year which you may find useful. Culture It’s the hot topic on every employer’s lips. Everyone’s company has a unique culture and every company wants theirs to be a point of differentiation in the market. Culture comes from everyone in an organisation but generally it comes down to HR to communicate and drive the company’s strategy around culture. Here are some of the questions to consider: How do you ensure local and international new hires will be a good cultural fit in your organisation? What traits do you feel would suit your organisation the best and why? What are 3 initiatives you have created to improve employee experience and togetherness? Technology This year saw a huge increase in the emphasis on big data and analytics to understand employee interactions and productivity. HR teams can now use technology to identify areas for improvement and for streamlining workflows which can be used for management reporting, performance reviews and identifying inefficiencies. Asking questions like these below can help identify how future focused candidates are: What improvements have you seen from using HR data and analytics in your company? How has HR data and analytics affected HR strategy in your current organisation? How has HR software influenced how HR communicates rewards and benefits information? Attraction and Retention As the market continues to grow, competition for talent is becoming more and more complex. Once the recruitment process is complete Employee Engagement begins and will be very much the focus of many MNC and SME companies in 2016. Questions to consider for interviews: What innovative or creative talent acquisition processes have you developed and what were the results? What methods have you put in place to engage a very diverse workforce including millennials and older generations on a local and global scale? What unique benefit offerings have you introduced to your company? Performance Management (HPWOs) Having a Performance Management process in place is key to the overall strategy of the company. It increases employee satisfaction and is a predictor of the success of future operational goals. As HR in most cases is aligned with the overall corporate strategy, this is a critical function to get right. That being said it is an evolving process with more companies looking at different ways of monitoring performance. What is your idea of an ideal Performance Management process for a large global MNC? Describe if you ever reviewed or implemented a cloud based solution for Performance Management? What were the pros and cons? What has typically been the biggest barriers to building a collaborative culture that supports engagement, satisfaction and performance to ensure sustainable growth? Market Knowledge Generally candidates will always have questions relating to Stakeholder Management, Cost Savings and how you would see their role developing over the first 3, 6 and 12 months in the job. In addition to this these are a couple of typical questions we are seeing being asked at all levels: What type of candidates do you feel will be most sought after over the next 3 years and how would you attract them? What financial and non-financial rewards do you see as the most valuable in the market at the moment and why? What is your thoughts and experience on recruiting through Social Media?
There’s been a lot of talk from government quarters of additional supports for parents. With less than three months to go until the government delivers a pre-election budget, there’s a lot of speculation already on what’s likely to feature in the package of tax and spending measures. To put some context on the financial challenge that parents face, consider this: it costs more than €105,000 to raise a child until their 21st birthday, and parents are forking out more than €4,000 per year on childcare, according to a study published by Laya Life earlier this month. The report, which was prepared by an interdepartmental group established by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly, recommended the introduction of paid parental leave for parents of children under one as an extension to existing maternity benefit provision. “There was a desire for extended paid maternity leave and the introduction of shared parental leave,” the report said, in reference to the consultation that framed its findings. It added that a large number of respondents had proposed that “maternity leave be extended to the recommended minimum standard of 12 months. Likewise, greater provision of paternity leave was desired by many”. As a result, the report recommended that additional paid parental leave, which can be taken by either parent, be introduced to immediately follow the existing period of paid maternity leave. How employers deal with working parents comes down to company policy, but in some sectors, where finding staff is hard, better benefits can be used as a bargaining chip. According to Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig, director of Sigmar Recruitment, employers in certain areas are fighting with rivals to attract skilled staff. Mac Giolla Phádraig said that in certain sectors were skilled employees were in high demand – such as specific niches of the tech sector – companies were keen to get it right on benefits to attract staff. “What makes a company competitive? That’s key when it comes to benefits,” he said. “Some of the US tech companies, for example, come to Ireland to scale, with money to spend and the acquisition of talent is key to that strategy.” Given the competitive landscape, companies are looking to “go above and beyond” when devising a benefits package for staff. “The free canteen, the gym membership and so on: to an extent that is all expected now in certain sectors,” he said.“Now you hear of companies offering onsite dentists and healthcare, subsidised hairdressers and so on.” Mac Giolla Phádraig said that some companies are now looking to align their benefits with what employees value, giving rise to an increased focus on work-life balance and family friendly policies. The issue of benefits such as paternity leave is a tricky one, according to Mac Giolla Phádraig. “It’s a matter of company policy,” he said. “Some companies will give two days of paid paternity leave, others will give two weeks. Two weeks would be seen as attractive.” Fathers in Ireland do not – for now – have a statutory entitlement to paternity leave. However, as Mac Giolla Phádraig indicated, some employers will provide for a number of days of paid paternity leave for staff on the birth of their child.
Businesses exert a lot of time and resources in sourcing and appointing the right people. Having excellent staff is great but you cannot rest on your laurels. Competitors are always ready to prise them away with lucrative offers. How do you ensure that your best and brightest remain happy in their jobs and committed to your company? Create a nice atmosphere If your workplace is a pleasant place to work, your staff will feel more comfortable and have less reason to seek a move. Good rapport can be fostered by organising occasional staff outings, parties and collective participation in charity events. The investment in morale boosting activities can be crucial to staff retention in the long run. Keep the lines of communication open The phrase ‘my door is always open’ may be a cliché, but every manager should operate an open door policy. Look for employees input at meetings and ask for feedback when introducing new measures or projects and consider implementing suggestions they might have. This openness and transparency generates positivity amongst staff as they feel that you trust them and value their input and opinions. Keep staff challenged The best talent in any organisation want to be challenged in their role. If they are not stimulated by their work they may consider looking for pastures new. Vary tasks where possible. Assign staff to testing projects where they can put their skill set to use in different areas of the company. This will help invigorate staff and make them feel that every day at work represents a new challenge. Reward excellence Hard work and great results need to be acknowledged by management. Few things are more disheartening in the workplace than top class work not being appreciated. Acknowledgement can take the form of bonuses and generous commission rates or staff outings and parties. If employers feel their efforts are going unnoticed they can feel undervalued and begin to look at other organisations where they may receive more recognition and rewards. Allow for work/life balance Companies that recognise that employees have lives outside of the workplace generally have higher staff retention rates. If at all possible, offer schemes that allow for flexi time and even working from home. For example I’m currently working remotely from Canada for Sigmar in Ireland as I really wanted to go travelling for a few months without having to look for a job, so my boss has let me do that. Ensure that you have adequate sick leave in place and provide sufficient holiday time. If employees don’t feel that they are receiving good perks or are unhappy with their work/life balance they could think about making a move. Provide a platform for continued learning Assertive employees want to learn and grow within an organisation. Allow them to attend seminars and training courses and sit internal exams if feasible. Staff will be grateful for the chance to upskill and increase their knowledge base. Opportunity for progression Every ambitious employee has the desire to progress their career as much as possible. It’s vital that structures are in place to allow progression. Hiring from within the organisation can have a really positive effect. Staff can see that there is a chance of advancement within the company. If talented members of the organisation see senior roles being filled by outside candidates, they can feel undervalued and become disheartened. This may lead to them seeking a move to another company where they feel they may receive the opportunities they deserve. Conclusion We hear time and again that employees are an organisations most valuable resource. Keeping them feeling valued and satisfied should be one of your main priorities. Staff leaving can be bad for company spirit and hinder productivity, while finding replacements can be difficult. Happy employees who are comfortable in their post are a lot less likely to leave. The onus is on you as a company to ensure that your employees are content and fulfilled in the job.
Unhappy employees are members of the workforce that are no longer engaged or motivated in their job both mentally and emotionally. These employees, according to Gallup’s ‘State of the Global Workplace’, are; “busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day they undermine what engaged co-workers accomplish” This can have an adverse effect on the business in many ways and Gallup perceive that this phenomenon (disengagement) has cost US companies $300 billion a year. The cost of unhappy or disengaged staff can be far reaching and Gallup has identified 8 areas that this marvel can affect. 1. Customer Loyalty/Engagement Those dissatisfied with their jobs can be a bad representation of an organisation. Carrying a negative attitude and inability to want to help customers and co-workers, these unhappy employees can be detrimental in a customer care department. 2. Profitability Motivated personnel drive growth and revenue by achieving company targets. Demotivated staff are the opposite and strive to promote pessimism in the organisation. A sales team that are dispirited can lead to missed targets, lower overall scores for the department and bad customer interaction ensuring that prospective or current clients will not consider the company to do business with in the future. 3. Productivity Demotivated staff lack the innovation and creativity that engaged workers demonstrate. They find short cuts in their job leading to lower performance overall, which can dissuade others as targets are not met. 4. Staff Turnover In companies where disengagement is high the turnover can be significant. This can be caused through talents not being realised or capitalised on and lack of employee feedback or role descriptions. Hiring people who fit with the culture of an establishment and who will work towards the goals of the organisation are more likely to stay long term and remain motivated in their positions. 5. Safety Incidents In the construction and manufacturing industries among others safety incidents are higher in companies that demotivation is high in. This can be due to the lack of communication between management and subordinates or scarcity of training initiatives. 6. Wastage Most commonly heard of in the customer service industries, but evident in all industries. This includes the measure of how much time is wasted on breaks, lunch, sick time, training. Reasons for wastage can be lack of respect for values or bad process design by indifferent management. 7. Absenteeism High absenteeism is common in unenthusiastic corporations due to lack of fit in the organisation. People who do not fit into the culture of an establishment or work towards the aims and objectives of the company tend to give less thought into leaving management short by calling in sick. This can cause a knock on effect as shortages of personnel can lead to stress and discouragement among the remaining members of staff, creating a circle of negativity. 8. Quality Doing the same job day in, day off can be monotonous and cause demotivation. Without the drive to create high quality products/services, defect rates rise and productivity goes down. To reduce this, companies can introduce job sharing or job rotations to move people around the business which will educate the workforce on the whole organisation as opposed to just one area in the organisation. There are many ways to prevent the above issues in an establishment but first the organisation must measure the level of disengagement. The cost of disengagement can cause your company a lot more damage than you think. In short: “People want to come to work, understand their jobs, and know how their work contributes to the success of the organisation” (Baldoni, 2013) But instead people view employment as “more often a source of frustration than one of fulfilment” (Gallup, 2013).
Sigmar surveyed 2,657 employees in Ireland on their attitude towards benefits. The research indicates that the most significant benefits to employees are: Private Health Insurance (84%), Pension (82%), Paid Sick Days (81%), Educational Support (79%) and Flexi-Time (75%). “This is a particularly interesting time to examine the subject of employee benefits in Ireland,” says Sigmar HR Manager Jennifer Ward. “The need to keep costs low in recent years resulted in many companies reducing the number of employee benefits offered. However with the recent economic recovery many companies, particularly in the areas of multilingual, IT, pharmaceuticals and finance now face talent shortages and struggle to attract, motivate and retain staff.” While employee benefits programmes are a significant investment for employers Ward believes they also provide an opportunity to establish a competitive advantage for their brand as an employer. “The challenge is to balance the goal of controlling costs, while at the same time providing a benefits package attractive enough to help attract and retain the highest calibre employees over the long-term.” Ward is not surprised at some of the results. “There has been a palpable shift in employee expectations over the last number of years, and while a company car may have been of much higher significance during the boom, we are now returning to the staples of health care and pension, both of which many employees see as basics rather than benefits. What is surprising though, it that these benefits were important across all ages and not just for the older employees.” With 75% of those surveyed rating flexible working hours as a significant benefit only 31% are in receipt of this benefit. Ward believes that this is an area that is very likely to become more topical in Ireland particularly in light of the controversial new rights to flexible working hours introduced to the UK’s 30-million strong workforce this week. She says, “employers are becoming increasingly under pressure to respect the personal demands on the employee whether it is for childcare or other personal reasons.”
Things have been looking up in the HR industry, specifically in Dublin and its surrounding counties. It is likely that this trend will slowly continue nationwide. HR departments are busier than ever and as they are faced with more and more pressing business demands, they are being forced to consider expanding their headcount. The swell of confidence in the HR jobs market is reflected in the number of HR departments that have experienced churn for the first time in 5+ years. This has had a knock on effect, creating more open vacancies which feed back into candidate confidence. When considering a move the priority has changed from job security to career development. Candidates are happier to risk leaving a permanent job for a contract one, if it’s going to add to their employability for future jobs. Companies that have not increased headcount in their HR function, in line with a return to more buoyant business, are often looking to take on temporary HR resources to tide them over during busier periods. These are usually at HR administration or HR generalist level or often they might look for specialist recruitment expertise to support on a ramp-up. We have seen a surprisingly high number of senior HR positions outside of Dublin, looking for specific skill sets such as union experience and multinational HR experience. However, at generalist level and in more junior level roles there has been less activity. For those returning to Ireland from abroad, or for those considering relocating from the greater Dublin area to elsewhere in Ireland they are still finding it slow. We have also seen an increasing number of companies take on their first HR hire to build a HR function from scratch. Economic growth has seen small companies grow and HR is no longer a cost they can do without. It has become an essential area they are willing to invest in, to support and sustain further business growth. Similarly the emphasis is on the business partnering nature of HR, candidates don’t want to work in companies where HR is not valued. It is the companies where HR has strategic impact, that attract the top candidates and that have a best practice, progressive HR approach. We are seeing starting salaries for people with little to no experience climb to €30,000 which is a noticeable increase from 2016. This trend continues up the chain. At generalist and business partner level the climb is steadier however, at manager and director level we again see a strengthened job market. Many senior candidates who changed jobs in the last few years had taken considerable pay cuts from their one time boom salary. Now at the top level while not necessarily matching the highest packages that people were being paid it is getting closer e.g. jobs that were paying €65-75k a year ago are now paying €80-100k. Salaries are not consistent across all industries and you will find a junior HR person with 1-2 years could be on a similar salary to another with 5 years due to the industry that they are in. Salaries are increasing and those who are planning to change job should be looking for a pay rise from a new company. To retain staff you need to know what the market is offering and therefore what might be tempting them to leave. Similarly, in the hiring process a candidate is likely to have two or three offers on the table so it is important that you ascertain what their expectations are and what you have in your arsenal to lock down top talent. It’s is not just the basic salary that is important. Particularly in larger companies there are complex benefit packages on offer. If you can’t compete with benefits you may have to consider a basic salary 10–15k higher to compete with packages being offered elsewhere. Equally candidates are bench-marking when looking at the job market or requesting a pay review. HR candidates know about salary surveys and availability of data so they will seek out this information. While salaries are not consistent across different industries, if a better salary is available in a new industry this information might provide the impetus for a career move.