HR Elements is an exclusive UBA Partner Firm monthly newsletter that delivers insights about timely human resources and employee benefits topics.
august 2023 | employee learning: develop in-house or hire a vendor?
When it comes to fostering a positive workplace culture, investing in employee learning and development is essential. One decision you may face is whether to develop learning programs in-house or hire external vendors. Each approach comes with advantages and considerations. Let’s explore both options.
Developing In-House Learning Programs
Developing in-house learning programs allows you to tailor the content to your organization's needs and culture. It will enable you to align the learning initiatives with the company's strategic goals, fostering a sense of ownership among employees, and avoids sharing of confidential data. In-house programs can also be cost-effective if you have the necessary expertise and resources.
In-house programs are ideal for training on company-specific programs or policies but may not be appropriate for employee-specific training for degree or certificate programs for career development. Employers should also consider the time commitment for planning, delivering, and staffing in-house programs.
Hiring External Vendors for Learning Initiatives
Engaging external vendors brings a fresh perspective and expertise to the table. Vendors often have specialized knowledge and experience in developing comprehensive training programs. They can provide a broader range of resources, tools, and learning methodologies. However, it is crucial to thoroughly vet vendors, ensure their offerings align with your organization's values, and consider the associated costs. External vendors may offer a more comprehensive selection of training programs, but the content may be too generic for employees to apply the training to specific work situations.
When planning an employee learning program, consider a balanced approach that involves a combination of in-house programs and external vendors, depending on the organization's needs, available resources, and desired outcomes. The focus should be on creating a learning culture that empowers employees, fosters professional growth, and aligns with the organization's strategic objectives.
JUly 2023 | CHAT GPT: HOW TO SET AI PARAMETERS AT WORK
ChatGPT is revolutionizing online search technology and transforming many business processes. The tool enables users to enter a query and receive a detailed response, taking context and intent into account. Many companies (Morgan Stanley, Stripe, and PwC) are working to leverage this customizable AI language at an enterprise level. Progressive organizations want to stay ahead of the AI curve and set policies around usage.
A few best practices on ChatGPT usage will help your organization make the most of this powerful tool.
1. Be transparent with your leaders. ChatGPT is a powerful tool. It enables employees to better allocate resources, automate certain tasks, and focus on strategic initiatives. However, 70% of employees using ChatGPT do so without their boss’ awareness. Under-the-radar usage can lead to problems down the road. Establish an approval process for using ChatGPT on work assignments. Clarify use cases and assess the risks.
2. Customize ChatGPT content. AI is a great starting point for memos, newsletters, policies, and interview questions, among other tasks. However, unedited content may sound cold or robotic. Fine-tune output by personalizing AI-generated text. Update the query results to use your company’s “voice.” Add examples that bring the document to life and account for organizational nuances.
3. Double-check the facts. ChatGPT is not flawless. Like other information from the Internet, results may include inaccurate data or outdated material. The free version of ChatGPT does not include content more recent than September 2021. As a result, users should build in extra time to proof output. Check links to verify accuracy. Validate codes, dates, and numbers.
Though ChatGPT is in its infancy, there is no doubt it will change the way companies work and service clients. New issues will arise as ChatGPT continues to evolve. HR practitioners play a pivotal role in establishing office guardrails and expectations around AI.
JUNE 2023 | STORYTELLING: DO YOU HEAR THE BEAT?
Stories are all around you. People tell themselves stories all the time.
Your manager, teams, and clients are 22 times more likely to remember new data if it is wrapped in a story.
They are the glue that holds your ideas together. But people tend to spend little time purposefully honing their storytelling craft. Two techniques you can apply to amplify your stories are identifying beats and expanding details.
When you hear the word “beat,” you may think of a favorite song or tune. Storytelling “beats” propel a narrative forward in much the same way that music progresses from verse to chorus to bridge. Beats are meaningful points of change in your story. They contain central points and are communicated with gravitas.
Take the example of proposing a healthcare benefit change to leadership. The beats in this presentation may be an inciting incident (an employee needing help), complication (benefit not available), climax (HR finds a work-around), and resolution (proposed new benefit). Your beats support the story arc in a familiar way, with a beginning, middle, and end. Our brains are designed to respond to stories. Stories are compelling in situations calling for change or action.
A good story arc moves the plot forward, but the details bring the story to life. Your job as the storyteller is to identify the relevant information. Stories with names, dates, and figures invoke emotion. For example, two different reactions may be produced from hearing about a “client” or “Jill, a long-tenured client based in Oklahoma.” The latter helps your audience imagine a real person. When you bring quantitative data to support your storyline, the same effect is produced. A story explains the meaning of numbers and aids the listener in understanding complex information. This combination engages both sides of the brain.
Storytelling is a powerful method to build relationships at work. And this skill can be developed by tapping into your creative mind. Think about your organization and how it could uniquely benefit from refining this skill.
Could your sales department engage more personally with clients?
Could leaders be more vulnerable in their communications?
Now is the right time to add storytelling to your workplace toolkit.
may 2023 | exit strategy: outplacement
Downsizing and workforce reductions are difficult decisions for any business. Outplacement services can help ease the transition for displaced employees and the employer. Outplacement is an employer-sponsored benefit to help workers develop skills and tools to find new employment after being terminated or laid off. A 2021 Mercer study showed that fewer than 45% of companies used outplacement services for most terminations.
In today’s economic climate, it may be time to evaluate whether utilizing an outplacement service makes sense for your organization.
Here are some of the top reasons employers choose to use outplacement.
Helps exiting employees. Losing a job is one of the hardest things a person can go through because it affects so many facets of their life. Enrolling exiting employees in outplacement services provides them with resources to begin a new job search and helps to build their confidence. Services may include resume writing, interview workshops, and dedicated career coaching.
Protects employee morale. Remaining employees often struggle following the departure of work colleagues. They worry about the welfare of departing staff and the security of their own jobs. Companies that offer outplacement may ease this transition and support the morale of the employees who stay onboard.
Preserves company brand. How a company treats its employees upon arrival and departure says a lot about the organization. A company’s reputation can be tarnished when it fails to support employees in the last stage of the employee lifecycle. Offering departing employees an outplacement benefit helps maintain the company’s brand in the talent market.
Identify your company’s goals in offering an outplacement program before meeting with potential vendors. The quality of their services and client relationships is an extension of your organization, and you will want to ensure you are comfortable with their approach.
apriL 2023 | are "love contracts" outdated?
Love is in the air, and workplace romances are on the rise. In a 2022 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study, 33% of participants reported a past or current workplace relationship. It may be time to update your relationship policy. However, creating a non-invasive policy that provides clear guidance can take time and effort.
As you update or develop your policy, consider these areas:
Word choice. A common part of a workplace relationship policy is a “love contract.” This document confirms the consensual status of a romantic relationship and confirms both parties will follow the company’s sexual harassment policy. Some employees may find this term outdated and not take it seriously. Update using modern verbiage like “relationship consent” or “consensual relationship” contract.
Employee types. Are all relationships off limits? Or just certain relationships? Dating up and down the employee hierarchy has long been a point of concern related to favoritism and workplace harassment. Spell out those relationships that need to be flagged.
Local laws. Various jurisdictions have employee privacy laws that restrict employer oversight. Are you able to restrict activity for remote workers?
Culture. Evaluate what makes sense for your organization. Employees may feel like this is an invasion of their privacy. And it may not make sense to limit relationships at a globally disbursed company. It is also imperative to consider your HR team’s time and availability. Do they have the bandwidth to monitor employee relationships?
Most will agree that workplace relationships will happen, regardless of the restrictions. The critical piece is identifying what formula makes sense for your organization. As an HR leader, how can you put meaningful structure in place to support workplace romantic relationships in a healthy way?
MARCH 2023 | CONNECT EMPLOYEES WITH YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL, AND GOVERNANCE (ESG) STRATEGY
People want more from their jobs. Expectations have grown in leaps and bounds in the area of corporate sustainability. As a result, many job seekers are looking for employers that support ESG (environmental, social, and governance) efforts important to them.
Of the participants surveyed in the Randstad 2022 Workmonitor study, 50% said they would decline an offer from a company that doesn’t share their beliefs on environmental issues. And, once hired, employees want to engage with ESG efforts.
Here are three ways to include employees in ESG initiatives.
Make ESG accessible. ESG measures the sustainable and ethical impacts of an organization’s financial investments. Share information about ways the company is supporting ESG efforts. Offer volunteer opportunities to drive societal impact on related causes. Tip: Identify a cause that leverages the unique skill set of your employee population.
Apply ESG to policies and practices. Incorporate the firm’s ESG strategy throughout the organization to increase accountability. For example, include corporate sustainability background in new hire onboarding. Tip: Select vendors who promote sustainable work products and services.
Create ambassador opportunities. Provide key information and resources to employees who are energized by the corporate ESG strategy. Employees are pivotal in sharing corporate sustainability efforts with their internal and external networks. Tip: Build an ESG advisory board so employees can contribute from the early stages.
Part of building a successful talent acquisition strategy requires understanding what is important to your target population. Research shows the youngest population in the workplace puts a strong emphasis on corporate sustainability. To attract these people, employers should communicate their sustainability efforts so that others know about your company’s contributions.
FEB. 2023 | UNPLUGGED: CREATING TIME TO THINK
In today’s “always on” work culture, it is not uncommon to be in a virtual meeting, viewing a presentation, and checking your phone simultaneously.
Your time is precious. Research shows it takes almost 23 minutes to get back on track after being interrupted.
Getting space to think without phone and computer alerts interrupting you can be challenging. In response to this tech invasion, some are joining the “unplugged” trend and disconnecting from gadgets.
Here are a few digital detox strategies to get started.
Start small. While Tiffany Shlain, author of 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week, employs a tech-free day a week, you may want to start with a more manageable goal. Try scheduling screen-free time for short spurts (15 – 30 minutes) and work your way up.
Update your calendar. Blocking time to unplug will help you to follow through. Pick a day of the week when it is less likely you will be disturbed. Notify colleagues when you will be offline.
Hide technology. Power off your phone and laptop. Tuck away electronics in a drawer or another room when they are not in use to avoid being sidetracked. Grab your notebook or use a whiteboard instead.
Schedule in-person meetings. Your thinking time may include an in-person tech-free brainstorming session with colleagues. You may notice that your relationships improve sans technology. You can better observe body language and tone in this setting which may be missed in an email or text.
Friday, March 3, is the National Day of Unplugging. This tech-free 24-hour period is devoted to doing anything other than using your devices. Think of this day as an experiment for you. See if a device detox invites new ideas around your work. Try looking at your projects from a 30,000-foot view. What new discoveries can you make?
JAN. 2023 | WHY BEST FRIENDS HAVE BENEFITS AT WORK
You likely remember your first work friend. They showed you the ropes and helped you navigate office politics. Today, research shows that work best friends are not just nice to have, but also play an essential role in employee engagement and retention.
Fostering a buddy-friendly environment can reap benefits in many ways.
Increased job satisfaction. Friendships contribute to employee well-being and fulfillment. A 2019 PwC study showed that friendships increased worker satisfaction by 50%. Studies also show that happy employees are more productive.
Lower turnover. Employees with friends at work are less likely to look for new jobs. They feel a sense of belonging that may deter them from looking elsewhere (even during the Great Resignation).
Improved skill building. Employees may be more comfortable asking a friend for help or understanding. This is especially helpful in a remote environment where shadowing or observation may not be possible. Work friends are a wealth of information. They function as an additional knowledge transfer outside of formal training.
Alternative support. Work friends offer a unique perspective. They comprehend the intricacies of your work environment that friends or family may not understand. Peer coaching naturally occurs between friends, enabling employees to reflect on their career journeys and problem-solve.
The 2022 Workforce Purpose Index reported that almost half of the employees surveyed found it difficult to make friends at work. As a leader and HR partner, you can play a role in encouraging friendships on the job. First, take a sincere interest in getting to know your employees. Pair new hires with experienced staff who may offer a different vantage point. Dedicate a part of regular meetings to topics other than work. These small interactions contribute to making work fun and may cement new friendships.
About UBA United Benefit Advisors® (UBA) is the nation's leading independent employee benefits advisory organization with more than 200 offices throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. UBA empowers 2,000+ advisors to maintain independence while capitalizing on each other's shared knowledge and market presence to provide best-in-class services and solutions. The content contained in this website, including but not limited to all text, images, trademarks, and logos, is owned by United Benefit Advisors® (UBA) except as otherwise expressly stated or provided by third parties.
UBA Partner Firms must keep all copyright, trademark, and copy intact. All others may link directly to the UBA website to share UBA copyrighted material; they may not duplicate, distribute, create derivative works, or otherwise use this site's content.
United Benefit Advisors® (UBA) | 20 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60606 | 312.416.3660