Really Do to Your Team

Getting your new hires started off on the right foot requires more than just offering them a quick tour of the office and sending them on their way. Giving employees the best chance at future success requires a successful and thorough onboarding program, according to new research from CareerBuilder. Unfortunately, a number of employers aren’t taking those steps. The study found that 36 percent of organizations do not have a structured onboarding process in place. Not having any process in place can cause a number of negative consequences for both the employee and employer. Specifically, 16 percent of HR managers said it lowers their company’s productivity, 14 percent said it brings on greater inefficiencies and 12 percent said it leads to higher employee turnover.

Lower employee morale, lower levels of employee engagement, lower confidence among employees, a lack of trust within the organization and missed revenue targets are among the other negative impacts of not having a thorough onboarding program. “While onboarding is a critical component of setting new employees up for success from day one, this study shows some companies are neglecting fundamentals in the onboarding process – and running into serious consequences that can impact the bottom line,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said in a statement. The study discovered employers use varying strategies when it comes to their onboarding process. Nearly half of those surveyed provide an overview of their process and how things work; 45 percent offer individual, ongoing training; 43 percent introduce new hires to key employees; and 42 percent provide an introduction to the company culture.

Additionally, more than 30 percent have a team welcome, ensure the new employee’s workspace and technology is ready before they arrive, and have goals and expectations for the employee’s role with defined milestones and success metrics. Some employers also provide detailed information on the company and growth opportunities and assign a mentor to the new hire. The research revealed that HR employees would benefit from including more automation and technology into their onboarding systems. More than 40 percent of the HR managers surveyed who don’t capture onboarding information electronically spend three hours or more per employee manually collecting and processing the data, while 16 percent spend five or more hours.  Those who collect all the information manually say they suffer from heavier workloads and higher stress levels. In addition, it leads to missing information, delayed start dates and candidates who end up walking away from the job because the process took too long. “Employers need to establish a comprehensive checklist for every new employee and incorporate more automation to provide a better, more efficient experiences for employees, their managers and HR,” Haefner said. Overall, one-quarter of employers have an onboarding process that lasts just a day, or less, with 26 percent having programs that last about a week. Twenty-one percent have an onboarding process that lasts one month, with 11 percent extending it over the course of at least three months. The study was based on surveys of 2,300 hiring managers and human resource professionals across a variety of industries and company sizes in the private sector. – See more at:

Business Automation Impact Workers in the Gig Economy

Two trends remaking the American economy are the growth of freelancers and independent contractors – the so-called gig economy – and an expansion of automated processes. But how do the two intersect? What impact will the breakneck pace of automation have on temporary workers in the gig economy? Morag Brand, a freelancer and certified automation expert, said automation and short-term contract work are a natural pair, and that the gig economy can expect a boost in activity as a result of more businesses employing automation-focused technologies. “Automation has to start somewhere, and that’s right at the initial concept stage … but it has to be set up by someone, and this is where freelancers enter the scene,” Brand told Business News Daily. “So, yes, freelancers and contract workers should expect more work as automation expands, but it will be short bursts of ‘set up and move on,’ rather than the traditional retainer model of old. This is also cost-effective for the business owner too.”

Cristina Escalante, COO of the web and app development company The SilverLogic, said the gig economy has grown exponentially with automation technology, which paved the way for the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world.

“The gig economy was created by the combination of automation and the birth of Web 2.0,” Escalante said. “[Many of these jobs] would have been completely unimaginable without both automation and web-based platforms.”

But the intersection of the gig economy and automation goes well beyond the common references. Freelancers are taking to platforms like Fiverr and Upwork to get their services out to the public at affordable rates. Writers and data analysts share these platforms to connect with potential clients all over the world, enabling them to spread their services to a wider audience.

“An Upwork data researcher or proofreader can build a reputation, maintain connections with clients, and use a gig platform as a launch pad for his or her own business,” Escalante said. “Although it’s conceivable that humanity will automate itself into unemployment, for the near future at least, gig workers capable of retooling and pivoting can expect more work.”

However, there remains a great deal of progress to be made when it comes to connecting freelancers and clients. Kristen McAlister, president and co-owner of Cerius Executives, which provides companies with temporary executives, said locating temporary workers is still a heavy lifting process for the would-be client. She anticipates further automation of this space in the future, which she predicts would lead to much quicker mass adoption.

“The overwhelming trend to finding contract workers on platforms is a ‘post’ rather than a ‘search’ process,” McAlister said. “This makes the connection process far more manual and flawed than most realize.”

A major complaint of clients searching for freelancers is that oftentimes the posts advertising their services are vague and ambiguous, McAlister added. She sees further automation as an obvious solution to this problem.

“Increased automation and AI to help improve the need identification and matching process will provide significant advances in this space,” she said. “It needs to get to the point of an Uber or Amazon AI model to remove much of the current friction and increasing mainstream adoption for businesses.”


Legal issues surrounding the gig economy

There are a few legal issues any company interested in hiring gig workers needs to be aware of. Jon Yarbrough, a labor and employment attorney for Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, said businesses commonly misclassify their employees, which can lead to severe penalties from government regulators.


How to Retain Increasingly Mobile Workers

As the economy improves and more job opportunities appear, workers are growing increasingly restless. According to research conducted by ADP, more than 1 in 4 people change jobs annually – an unprecedented frequency of job switching. Moreover, ADP found that 63 percent of the average employer’s workforce is open to leaving for a new job at any time, and 46 percent would leave for a job that paid the same or less than their current position. So, how can employers find and retain top talent? Sreeni Kutam, division vice president of major account services at ADP, said the findings boil down to two philosophies in conflict with one another: “me vs. we.” Employees, he said, often take the “me” perspective, asking themselves how much they can make, how they can advance and whether they’re satisfied. Employers, on the other hand, naturally take a bird’s-eye view of the organization, concerning themselves more with financial performance and overall organizational health.

“The question becomes due to the external factors – economic improvement, unemployment going down – would that tension be elevated to unprecedented levels?” Kutam said. “And we are seeing that in the marketplace.” That’s certainly alarming news for any employer who wants to hang on to their best employees. Luckily, there are significant steps employers can take to keep their employees happy in their current roles, rather than searching for greener pastures. Invest in managers’ skills Managers need to be more than just employees who once did a good job; they need to understand how to get the best out of people, while minimizing their weaknesses. When employees feel they are contributing and clearly understand their value in an organization, they are engaged in their work and more likely to stick around. “A lot of companies promote managers based on how good they were at their previous job,” Kutam said. “But actually, the people management aspect of leadership is the X-factor.

Great team leaders leverage the strengths of individual team members to get to the broader perspective.” Boost wages As the economy improves, productivity is reaching new levels. Generally, sales and earnings are going up, but wages are lagging. Everybody feels more appreciated after a raise, especially when so many Americans are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Making sure your staff is compensated well and happy with their paychecks is essential to keeping them on board. However, while good pay is an important puzzle piece, don’t expect compensation alone to keep top talent content in an otherwise disconcerting environment. Use performance management tools Performance management software is a great way for employers to keep an eye on the individuals in their organizations. Although employers are often susceptible to the “we” view, performance management tools help them drill down into the strengths, weaknesses and aspirations of individual team members. The good software even helps identify those who might be flight risks, helping you to address their concerns and keep them within the organization. [See our picks for the best performance management tools.] Offer career development opportunities A stagnant employee is an unhappy employee. While a good manager leverages an employee’s strengths, most employees want to feel like they are progressing not just professionally, but also personally. For those ambitions, internal career development programs and opportunities are key. In the end, your organization will also benefit from more content, well-rounded employees.

Business Owners Are Not Following Suit in the Gig Economy

The gig economy might be growing by leaps and bounds in the U.S., but small business owners are slow to embrace freelancers and independent contractors. A new survey released by small business marketing firm Manta found that most entrepreneurs prefer to employ traditional salaried employees rather than opt for more temporary or fluid work arrangements. Moreover, the minority of small business owners that do use gig economy labor don’t offer benefits to those workers, the survey results demonstrate. “With all the press the growth of the gig economy has gotten … we were expecting to see higher numbers,” Dario Ambrosini, chief operating officer at Manta, said. “These results are more in line with what we’ve seen from small businesses in the past. They mainly hire contract workers for seasonal businesses or short term projects.” According to Manta’s survey, two-thirds of small business owners do not currently employ any contractors or freelancers, and 85 percent have no plans on hiring those types of workers within the next year. Further, 73 percent said they do not utilize online labor marketplaces, such as Upwork, to find and hire freelancers.

“Small businesses tend to buck the trend and do their own thing,” Ambrosini said. “Large companies are definitely moving toward the contract worker, but this poll and everything else we’ve done shows SMBs won’t embrace the gig economy –  and I wouldn’t predict that they will until those numbers start to move.” Manta’s survey is based on responses from more than 2,200 small business owners between March 28 and March 31. The margin of error on all numbers is +/- 2.08 percentage points.

Pace Yourself to Avoid Workplace Fatigue

Similar to athletes in the pool or on the track, employees need to pace themselves in the office in order to avoid burning out, new research suggests. The study from researchers at the University of Virginia and Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a model for how employees should best distribute their efforts during the day to prevent fatigue. Previous research has found that fatigue not only makes work more unpleasant, but it results in decreased productivity. When developing the model, the researchers found that employees are best served by following one of two patterns, depending on the type of job they have.

This pattern is similar to the strategy that Olympic swimmers and runners often use. The study’s authors said these athletes typically try to lower their burn rate after getting off to a strong start so they have some energy left in their tank for a strong finish. Some jobs, however, require employees to always perform at maximum intensity. This may include workers who operate machinery or provide customer service. In this “all-or-none” scenario, the researchers say the best pattern for employees to follow is to begin and end the day with “on” periods, but take breaks during the day. Employers who insist on employees keeping a high pace all the time are harming their organization in the long run, according to the study. The researchers said fatigued employees leads to high turnover, low morale and low productivity. Since fatigue often goes unnoticed until it is already causing problems, the study’s authors said employers are best served by taking preemptive measures to ensure workers don’t get burned out. Manel Baucells, one of the study’s authors and a professor at the University of Virginia, suggests that managers can help avoid fatigue by giving employees greater control over when they take breaks. The researchers said their study isn’t meant to say that employees should be working long hours. Working lengthy days is fine, as long as employees are given breaks during the day to recharge. “Google seems to have learned this lesson and makes the work environment pleasant, promoting fun distractions, while at the same time encouraging long work hours,” Baucells wrote in an article on the University of Virginia Darden School of Business’s website. For employees who work from home, it is important that they self-manage their time and effort.

The study’s authors said they need to avoid the temptation to push hard all day long. “At-home workers should draw clear home/work boundaries in their schedules (and workspaces) to better facilitate a high-low-high effort, rather than putting in long hours that wind up yielding equivalent (or lower) outputs,” Baucells wrote. “They may even consider starting work immediately upon rising in the morning to take advantage of showering and breakfast as times to rest and reduce accumulated fatigue.” In the end, the researchers believe employers will see the dividends in ensuring their employees don’t become overfatigued from pushing themselves too hard.