Center for Recruiting
Excellence

We Specialize in placing top talent
with great companies

To view the articles select the
title & it will expand

  • Have You Modernized Your Employee Review Practices?

    In today's lean, fast-changing world, traditional business practices are being shaken up. Many companies are reviewing their long-held traditions in favor of more agile, responsive ways of improving the employee experience. They are giving more consideration to the physical environment employees work in as well as the practices, technologies and tools that encourage productivity. Changes include providing employees with flexibility to work from home more often, and leveraging technology like Skype for Business or Yammer to better communicate and share information among team members, and even the entire organization.

     

    The long-standing practice of annually evaluating employees based on their productivity, overall improvement and achievement of goals is one of the areas undergoing a big transformation. For decades, the prevailing wisdom has been that one annual review at the end of the year is enough to let employees know how they're doing. However, this is no longer true – employees are demanding more frequent and detailed feedback on their performance, and managers are responding by making their review practices more flexible and engaging.

     

    According to the 2018 MRINetwork's Performance Management Study, 54 percent of employers say they are increasing their focus on performance reviews, which indicates that they recognize the need to find better ways to enhance the value of the reviews, as well as their employees' perception of the process. The same study revealed that 42 percent of candidates disagree or strongly disagree that their company's review process is useful and productive.

     

    If your company hasn't updated its performance review practices, it runs the risk of losing top talent to competitors that build regular feedback into their business functions. You're also missing out on valuable opportunities to identify and develop your employees' professional skill sets.

     

    As you begin to focus on business planning and employee goals for the coming year, consider these four ways you can modernize reviews at your company:

     

    1. Make performance an ongoing conversation

     

    The performance review plays an integral role in keeping the line of communication open between manager and employee. It is the chance to offer employees the acknowledgment that they're looking for, to encourage them to strive for higher levels of achievement, and to nip problems in the bud. Instead of saving comments for the annual review, find ways to provide feedback and discuss priorities with employees on a regular basis. Consider holding biweekly, one-on-one check-ins with employees, discuss goals or accomplishments at the beginning or end of each quarter, or provide opportunities for group discussions at weekly team meetings. Regular check-ins help employees feel that their managers are committed to helping them be successful workers, which in turn means they're more engaged and motivated to do their best work.

     

    2. Embrace career pathing

     

    Career pathing is a strategy that actively invests in and develops your employees to thrive in their current and future roles. It is an intentional approach as opposed to a reactive one / instead of managers passively learning of an employee's goals at the company, they take a participatory role in professionally developing the individual. Through career pathing, managers and employees sit down and discuss the employee's professional aspirations at the company and then set a tangible plan for helping the employee reach these goals.

     

    3. Create an open culture of feedback

     

    Reviews that benefit both the employee and the employer are based on honest, open communication, and this is only possible when there is a culture of workplace transparency. Employees should feel comfortable expressing their concerns, and criticism should be communicated in a way that is constructive. If employees feel that they are always one misstep away from being fired, or that their managers are not honest with them, reviews are more likely to further cement negative feelings instead of paving the way for constructive performance augmentation. Company leadership can do their part to create an open culture of feedback by keeping employees in the loop on workflow changes, encouraging employees to voice their concerns and recognizing workers who aren't afraid to ask for help.

     

    4. Ensure reviews are fair

     

    Only 29 percent of employees strongly agree that their performance reviews are fair, according to Gallup. The organization found that one main reason for this is reviews that are held just once a year fail to take into account all the changes that can occur in responsibilities, workflows and personal lives over the course of 12 months. Gallup also suggests that when conducting reviews, managers consider the expectations of the role compared to the time and resources employees actually have to fulfill these duties. The benchmarks employees are judged against should be realistic and fair.

     

    Performance reviews are integral to employee success, but expectations have changed in the 21st century. Employees want reviews that are frequent, constructive, authentic and fair. Companies that update their review processes to match these needs are most likely to retain top talent because better performance reviews lead to higher morale, higher efficiency and overall, a better company in which to work.

     

  • How Modernize your Employee Review Practices - Inforgraphic

  • How Company Benefits Can Motivate You to Remain Engaged

    Did you know that 75 percent of employees prefer increased benefits rather than a raise? If you're someone who finds more value and motivation in things like employee development, tuition reimbursement and even wellness programs, these figures from Glassdoor's Q3 2015 Employment Confidence Survey probably don't come as a surprise. However, if you are someone principally driven by the promise of a salary increase, perhaps you haven't fully explored how incentives can increase your motivation and engagement on the job.

     

    Consider how you can use the following perks and benefits to drive production and improve your career:

     

    Healthcare insurance

    According to the Glassdoor survey, health insurance was the No. 1 desired benefit at a company, as 40 percent of respondents indicated that it was more important than a pay raise. And contrary to popular belief, that figure doesn't drop all that much among the millennial generation. A survey from Fit Small Business found that 34 percent of millennials view healthcare as the top priority when it comes to benefits. Less than 10 percent of the young workforce ranked office perks such as fitness classes and free food as the most important.

     

    As Dawn Leijon, Executive in Residence at the Kogod School of Business at American University, told the source, benefits like health insurance can help drive commitment to a company. Research from the university confirmed that millennials crave the stability that traditional benefits can deliver, likely because of the shaky economy they grew up in. That sense of security helps release unnecessary burdens in this part of your life, which can free up more energy to focus on important deadlines and initiatives at work.

     

    However, if your company doesn't offer healthcare coverage, you're not alone. According to Fortune contributor Laura Lorenzetti, just 9 percent of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For provide health coverage for their employees. That's down from 34 percent in 2011, representing a shift in attitudes toward benefits in the workplace and what employees expect.

     

    This is actually good news if you're hoping to customize benefits, Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research founder and economist John Goodman explained. Essentially, healthcare benefits are another form of compensation so if your company has decided to do away with them, there may be some freedom to adjust your wages or other benefits to best meet your lifestyle and needs. Goodman emphasized that tailoring benefits - and coordinating appropriately - allows companies to enhance productivity among employees. Consider talking with a manager or HR to inquire about how you can make the most of your benefits.

     

    How to make healthcare benefits improve your motivation:

     

    1. Look beyond traditional healthcare coverage

    If your company offers healthcare benefits, they likely go beyond routine coverage for annual dental and medical costs. Perhaps the chosen insurance provider offers reimbursements for weight loss and gym memberships, or discounts on fitness equipment. Leverage benefits to take care of your emotional and mental well-being too. If there's something you're struggling with, consider what areas your coverage can help you in. Get the most out of your benefits by researching how your coverage can improve your physical or mental well-being.

     

    After all, healthy employees are more engaged, according to a Gallup poll that reported disengaged employees have 2.17 unhealthy days per month, compared to the 1.25 unhealthy days experienced by engaged coworkers. When you feel healthy, you'll be more motivated at work.

     

    2. Take advantage of preventative care

    It may seem like a no-brainer, but not everyone actually utilizes company health insurance. Start by gaining a comprehensive understanding of all that your plan offers, as you may be surprised by what you find. For example, if you're eligible and covered for preventative care, why not take advantage of it?

     

    Doing all you can to stay healthy makes for a successful personal and professional life.

     

    Flexible hours and remote work

     

    In the last decade, the perk of remote work has skyrocketed to the top of the benefits list for many companies, especially tech and startup organizations. If you've ever worked for a company that allowed several work-from-home days per work or negotiable hours, this is likely one perk you won't want to give up. As one such company saw, remote work produced strong outcomes. Cloud solutions company ConnectSolutions conducted a Remote Collaborative Worker Survey that found 77 percent of employers noted higher productivity when working from home.

     

    One third of respondents indicated that they were able to accomplish the same work in less time, while about one quarter reported increased work productivity in less time.

     

    When executed properly, remote work can help you thrive in the workplace and even encourage motivation. By switching up your daily routine and altering hours to fit your needs, you may even be willing to work additional hours to accomplish even more, as 23 percent of ConnectSolutions employees reported.

     

    How to use flexible hours to drive engagement:

     

    1. Monitor work life balance

    Did you know that overworking can actually lead to a decline in productivity? According to a 2014 study by John Pencavel of Stanford University and IZA, the output and productivity of employees drops off when logging more than 50 hours of work per week. Monitoring your work life balance can help you get the most out of your days at the office.

     

    2. Take responsibility

    If you're working remotely, you may very well do a lot of self-management. In this scenario, it's important to take responsibility for your discipline and engagement. As Entrepreneur contributor Alexander Maasik advised, create a formula to measure your work and impact on the company, your co-workers and yourself. When you can clearly see your output and its overall impact, you'll be driven to work harder and remain engaged - even when working remotely.

     

    Culture and lifestyle perks

     

    When you feel as though you are a valued member of a team and a part of something bigger than yourself, you're that much more likely to stay with a company. In many cases, even if the salary isn't quite at the level you'd like it to be, it may just be that those free bagels on Fridays, the friendly company-wide competitions held each month and the annual summer party are what keep you coming back. Ultimately, it's the sense of community that drives you to show up and do your best each day.

     

    As Inc. explained, perks like catered lunches during busy season and wellness classes can go a long way. In addition to feeling like your efforts and hard work are being recognized and appreciated by management, you can also take into account the money you're saving on lunch and fitness packages. When a company makes the effort to improve company culture and offer these kind of perks, you feel valued.

     

    How to leverage culture perks to boost productivity:

     

    1. Learn something new

    If your company perks include free training sessions, writing workshops or even after-hours cooking classes, sign up. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found that employees who actively engage in creative outlets and regularly challenge themselves to learn new something perform better at work. Even simple things such as taking up doodling can have an impact on engagement. See what your company offers and jump on board. And if your company doesn't offer the kinds of workshops or training opportunities you're looking for, don't be afraid to inquire about discounted seminars or workshops that could help you further your career.

     

    2. Change up your routine

    If you start to notice your motivation fading at work, consider changing up your regular routine. Career Strategist Adrienne Tom explained the importance of employees taking the time to step away from their desk and take part in a new activity, project or outing each week, according to Monster. You'll return refreshed with the excitement of trying something new, which can translate to increased engagement.

     

    Whereas salary will always be there, these additional benefits can help drive you to focus your energy, accomplish more in the same amount of time and feel appreciated, all of which continue to motivate you as your progress in your career.

     

  • Retain Your Clients By Retaining Your Employees

    Suppose you have a client who deals with a specific representative within your organization on a regular basis. Then that client starts to see multiple employees being funneled through that position. Every time the client contacts you, they're dealing with a new person. What does this say to your client about your company? Countless negative things can be inferred from a high turnover rate, which often results in the loss of your clients to another company they perceive as better managed and more reliable.

     

    "Most clients regard a revolving door of employee contacts as annoying at best, and a deal breaker at worst," says Alicia Sinay, senior franchise development manager for MRINetwork. "Businesses are increasingly relying on relationships, and it's much easier to maintain the relationships you've cultivated with your clients when you don't have to brief a new person on your business goals every six months, or repeat work that has already been completed as a new employee is being brought up to speed."

     

    While losing clients means a loss of income for your company, a high turnover rate has the capacity to be even more far-reaching and damaging in today's candidate-driven marketplace. That's why your strategy to retain clients should include retaining the employees who serve those clients.

     

    If your goal is to foster employees who are satisfied with their position, you should be aware they expect the following:

     

    • Ability to use their talent and skills in the workplace. Many of your people could contribute far more than they currently do, if their managers take the time to tap into their skills, talent and experience. Whenever possible, allow them to focus their time and energy on projects they enjoy. Show employees you trust them by giving them responsibilities that provide the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities in other areas. Your business may benefit from applying their knowledge and experience to expanded job duties.
    • Frequent opportunities to learn and grow in their careers, knowledge and skill. Without the opportunity to work on new projects, serve on challenging and significant teams, and attend seminars and classes, they will stagnate - and ultimately leave your company. Career pathing is a great way for employees and managers to map out an upward mobility track, while placing the responsibility on the employee to achieve certain goals in order to receive a promotion, salary increase or both.
    • Awards and Recognition. A simple thank you or a congratulatory award often goes a long way in recognizing a job well done. That said, monetary rewards and bonuses, tied to accomplishments and achievements, can be even more motivating.
    • Communication with their managers. In addition to exit interviews when employees are leaving, routinely ask your employees why they stay. Ask questions such as: Why did you decide to accept a role within the organization? What are your nonnegotiable issues? What would you change or improve? Then use that information to strengthen your employee retention strategies.

    Putting these effective retention strategies in place is key to retaining employees and better serving your clients. "Create an environment that stimulates employee satisfaction by incorporating motivation-building practices into your corporate culture," advises Sinay. "Listen to your employees, respect their opinions, and be available to help with everything from ideas and concerns to assisting them with their career advancement."

     

    Employees need to feel valued and appreciated, be given feedback, provided with growth opportunities and work-life balance options, and have trust and confidence in their leaders. In this kind of environment, employees deliver higher-than-expected levels of service to each and every client. They take pride in their company and in their work, resulting in retention both of your workforce and your client base.

     

  • How Company Benefits and Incentives Can Drive Employee Engagement

    Recruiting and retaining top talent has a lot to do with the benefits and incentives offered at your company. Today, it can be difficult to discern what it is that really attracts employees, and then what continues to motivate them once they've been hired. There needs to be a balance between over-the-top perks like unlimited vacation days and a good package of traditional benefits like a 401(k).

     

    No matter which direction your company chooses to take, benefits and incentives can help drive employee engagement. Here's how:

     

    Encourage work - life balance

    Citing data from the Corporate Executive Board, covering the majority of Fortune 500 companies, Inc. reported that workers who feel good about their work-life balance generally work 21 percent harder than their counterparts who don't feel fulfilled in this area. Research has shown that work-life balance can lower absenteeism and reduce stress among employees.

     

    There are a number of incentives you can offer employees that help to encourage a work-life balance, which helps drive engagement and productivity, many of which won't cost you a dime. Consider allowing a work-from-home policy that grants employees one to two days per week or one Friday per month. As Inc. explained, job satisfaction and output increase among those working remotely. Similarly, encourage employees to choose their own office hours, within certain parameters. This provides the opportunity for staff to work out in the morning if they prefer, or get their kids to daycare on time.

     

    Additionally, opportunities and incentives that promote work-life balance have been found to improve retention, thus, reducing time and costs spent on recruiting and training. As a report from the Center for American Progress highlighted, turnover can amount to more than one fifth of the annual pay of your employee. Additional cost-friendly options include providing work flexible or more time off. Other incentives that encourage work-life balance may be things like gym memberships, wellness days or time off to volunteer.

     

    Establish incentive programs

    Ultimately, one of the main things that employees want is for their hard work to be recognized. As the American Marketing Association explained, recognizing the productivity, innovation and time commitment of employees can help to drive engagement. Praising great results and success in the field should be always be done, as it can encourage employees to continue their hard work. Implementing monetary programs for a job well done on both an individual and team level can help increase motivation and productivity as well.

     

    As the AMA explained, competitive compensation can keep your employees on their toes and increase performance. The combination of encouragement and monetary incentives can go a long way.

     

    Leverage 'bonus' perks

    Many companies see perks such as catered lunches on Wednesdays, office happy hours on Fridays and free fitness classes as replacements of more traditional benefits. If you're worried these incentives will break the bank, distract employees from their work or aren't necessary because of the well-rounded benefits package your company offers, think again. If you want to drive engagement and see lots of smiling faces in your office hallways on a regular basis, consider implementing low-cost 'bonus' perks.

     

    These can include things like flexible hours, fresh fruit and snacks in the kitchen and even an in-office shower and towel service to promote work-life balance, The StartUp explained. Other tactics such as nap areas, game rooms and office bars can drive social connections among different teams.

     

    "Employee perks can at first appear to be bait on the hook - purely there to catch the biggest fish," wrote Alex Holderness in The StartUp. "But the truth is that a well-designed employee perk package can help the employer day-to-day as well."

     

    Happy employees, who actually have fun at the office, are more likely to feel connected to a company, its goals and its mission. Even small, inexpensive gestures like donuts in the middle of the week can go a long way in helping employees feel valued, which translates to engagement and productivity.

     

    Moreover, driven employees who are passionate about the brand, can be great ambassadors who promote the company culture and your employer brand. An office filled with satisfied workers is apparent immediately, just as a space filled with unmotivated, unhappy employees is as well.

     

  • Aligning Performance Management with Career Pathing

    Often employees leave their jobs because there is no clear path for them to advance, or they are not sure how to rise to the position they desire. Career pathing is a great way to increase employee retention and grow talent organically, because it provides both employees and employers with a clear roadmap, outlining what it takes for workers to move from their current position to where they want to be. It also empowers employees to take ownership of their career performance within the company and aligns their career goals with the strategic goals of the organization. This not only helps the organization achieve its goals, but also helps the organization in the following ways:

     

    Differentiate the company from competitors.

    Organizations that do not invest in training and development of their human capital lose valuable candidates to their competition. Employers can effectively differentiate themselves from competitors by investing in their employees' career development. Even a relatively small employer investment, such as implementing a mentoring program or boosting training opportunities, has a positive impact on loyalty. "Career pathing has great potential as a marketing and branding tool to attract future top talent," says Sherry Engel, vice president of training & development for MRINetwork. "When companies are able to share real examples with candidates about how their best employees advanced within the company and how career pathing is a part of the organization's culture, it provides one more competitive advantage."

     

    Retain key workers.

    Many employers in the U.S. are confronting shortages in areas where they most need to attract and retain experienced workers. As a result, they are increasingly concerned about losing high-potential talent. The cost of voluntary turnover can be significant - loss of productivity, lost institutional knowledge and relationships, and added burdens on employees who must pick up the slack.

     

    To prevent this, organizations have to identify workers who are central to the execution of business strategy and then develop or update retention plans to meet the needs and expectations of these employees, particularly those who drive a disproportionate share of key business outcomes or are in short supply in the labor market. Providing identifiable career paths is an important aspect of retention plans, along with coaching and mentoring employees with high potential and moving proven performers into new roles that fit skills developed over time.

     

    Keep younger workers engaged.

    Employees' views of work and growth opportunities vary by generation. Millennial workers, for example, value career pathing more than any other generation. In the MRINetwork 2017 Millennial Hiring Trends Study, more than half of Millennials (53 percent) said that career pathing has the most impact on their decision to stay with their employer. This process is not driven by the manager, but with the employee taking charge of their performance review and setting their desired career path. Once goals are set with the manager, successful completion now rests in the employee's hands. The path is now clear for what they need to do, in order to be promoted or receive a pay increase.

     

    Revitalize the performance management process.

    As part of the career pathing strategy, the annual review is being reinvented to serve as an efficient, business focused process that improves employee engagement and drives results. Goals are still agreed upon by employees and managers, but it is incumbent on employees to propel their careers, and manage their performance, not solely the manager. "Annual reviews then become predictable, rather than a guess at how the manager feels the employee performed," says Anne Hayden, vice president of human resources for MRINetwork. "Ultimately, performance management becomes linked with career pathing as a fundamental component of the company culture."

     

     Achieving this alignment requires companies to make changes in their performance management process. Getting started requires you to:

     

    Simplify - get rid of unnecessary, time-consuming, paper filled steps.

    Ensure that your company's strategic goals match up with your performance management philosophy.  Build a new performance management culture that encourages ongoing feedback and continuous development.  Empower managers to recognize and reward employee performance throughout the year

    Disconnect performance conversations from compensation conversations, which often block an employee's ability to hear and adopt the feedback that can lead to improved performance. Career pathing that benefits both the company and its employees requires time and commitment on both parts if it is to succeed in the long term. The payoff for a fully realized process, however, is a happier, more manageable, easier-to-retain workforce because employees who believe their employers make effective use of their talents and abilities are overwhelmingly more committed to staying on the job.

     

  • How to Stay Motivated During Times of Change and Uncertainty

    Organizational and business strategy changes are an integral part of the working world. Revising workflows, modifying strategies and hiring new talent are all necessary adjustments that are parts of the ebb and flow of any successful company. Ultimately, change is the means by which organizations keep up with advancements in technology, variations in the job market and competitors in the industry. In fact, change is indicative of progress, as a stagnant workforce often leads to a decline in creativity, production and innovation.

     

     Although essential, these periods of turnover, change or modification, can have an impact on your production and motivation at work. Here are several considerations for keeping your head up and remaining engaged despite the adjustment(s):

     

    Embrace change

    The first step to remaining motivated during times of change is to embrace it. As Dr. Spencer Johnson, author of "An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life" told The Thriving Small Business, so many employees are quick to resist change. Most often this resistance is rooted in fear or anxiety of not knowing what comes next, which is perfectly normal.

     

     As Johnson advised, try to discern the reason behind your organization's decision to modify a process or bring in new talent. Allow yourself to accept that the board members of your company did not do this to punish you: Understand that the move was most likely intended to improve the company's bottom line. Moreover, the end result could in fact benefit you personally or professionally in the long run. For some, reaching this point of embracing means asking questions of management. Others will find that focusing on the positive or leaning on fellow peers is what will help them.

     

    Though it won't happen overnight, changing your mindset to one of embracing rather than shunning can really help with productivity.

     

    Challenge yourself

    If you think back to your first day at your new job, you were likely overly eager to dive right in and learn all the ropes of the company right away. After all, that enthusiasm, passion and drive was probably a big part of why you were hired in the first place. Between the lackluster nature of your daily work and the stress of structural change, it's easy to lose sight of that ambition. While that initial tenacity may be clouded by change, your overall impulse to improve didn't simply disappear.

     

    One way to break out of the funk and challenge yourself, as well as your fellow coworkers, is to request ongoing employee development and trainings. Citing a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, Forbes contributors Jeffrey J. Selingo and Kevin Simon reported that 87 percent of employees desired continued training throughout the entirety of their career. The response found that workers consider training and development as necessary to progress and to keeping up with the evolving industries and workplaces of today.

     

     Not only will it feel good to learn new skills and enhance your existing areas of expertise, but inquiring about these trainings can demonstrate to your manager that you're invested in the company as well as furthering yourself in your career.

     

    Focus on what you want out of the job

    Have you taken the time recently to truly think about what you want out of your job? What exactly is it that drives you to show up to your desk each day?

     

    Take this time during change or uncertainty at your workplace to think about what inspires you. Then differentiate between the motivators that will bring only immediate and temporary bursts of determination and those that will truly deliver long-term success, explained The Balance. In some instances, you may be looking to be more challenged in your everyday work or maybe you may want more freedom for creativity. Perhaps it is simply that you yearn for recognition every once in a while. The key is to determine the one thing that will bring you long-term satisfaction in your role.

     

    Once you know what that is, you can move forward in finding the resources that you need to reach your full potential.

     

    By choosing to embrace change, challenge yourself and find your focus, you'll be highly driven and motivated every day of the year.

     

  • Working From Home - How Important Is It?

    Recently, some large companies have curtailed the ability of their employees to work from home, now asking staff to work in corporate offices. These changes are focused on driving increased collaboration, creativity, mentoring and innovation, but may alienate top talent in the executive, managerial and professional labor market - a sector that has been candidate-driven and challenged by talent shortages for the last few years.

     

    This move comes at a time when many candidates express interest in working from home during the interview process. According to the MRINetwork 2017 Recruiter Sentiment Study, 68 percent of recruiters and 53 percent of employers state candidates ask for work from home options somewhat often to very often. Over half of candidates indicate that having a work from home option is somewhat to extremely important as they consider a new job.

     

    "The U.S. unemployment rate is at a 16-year low, so failing to provide work from home options can put companies at a disadvantage in terms of attracting candidates," observes Nancy Halverson, general manager, franchise operations for MRINetwork. "Technology has made communication, collaboration, security and other aspects of managing remote employee easier, allowing companies to implement this strategy as a way to attract and retain top talent."

     

    Halverson notes that work from home arrangements offer a number of significant advantages. "You can employ specialized people who live outside your geographic region, for example, and stay operational 24/7 with remote staff spread across different time zones," she says. "You are also likely to maintain a more productive workforce and achieve higher long-term retention rates."

     

    The key to implementing a successful work from home program, Halverson advises, is the formation of a well-thought-out plan. "This necessitates drawing up formal guidelines and finding the right technological tools, as well as hiring the right people for the job of working remotely," she says. "Once in place, the program requires oversight and tweaking to make it's sustainable and successful."

     

    Halverson offers some useful guidelines for managing telecommuters on a day-to-day basis:

     

    Set the right tone.

     

    Working from home has become more acceptable, and even desirable, to employers, so it should no longer be viewed as a reward or a privilege. Instead, you should treat it as a natural option for working. Set the expectation that remote working days are the same as in-office working days. Agree on goals and deadlines for particular tasks. Keep a close eye on how well the targets are being met and give feedback promptly and sensitively if things go wrong.

     

    Determine metrics to measure progress.

     

    Monitoring and assessing the performance of people who work at home is perhaps the most significant managerial challenge. It can be helpful to measure their effectiveness in terms of their output rather than the hours they work to ensure that targets and deadlines are being met. You can set firm deliverables for work-from-home days (tangible pieces of work you can see have been completed), for example, or use time-tracking software.

     

    Don't forget about remote workers.

     

    Don't just shoot off emails requesting updates on projects. Make informal calls to ask how things are going, allowing employees to express concerns and to feel appreciated and acknowledged. Take advantage of instant messaging and make sure that face-to-face meetings occur when possible or when needed. For times when it's not possible to meet in person, video conferencing or Skype are great ways to provide a face-to-face element to brainstorming sessions or team meetings. These types of capabilities can make all the difference in helping remote employees see their co-workers occasionally, so that they feel connected and part of a community.

     

    To further the feeling of community, treat remote workers the same as you do those in the office. If it's ugly sweater day during the holidays, encourage your remote person to do the same and send a picture or leverage that video technology again. If you let parents scoot out early to enjoy Halloween festivities with their little ones, allow the same privileges to remote workers.

     

    Pay attention to warning signs.

     

    If a remote worker is missing deadlines or being asked to redo work, there could be a communication problem. Meet with the worker to discuss what communication channels could be used to correct the situation or if working from home is not the best option for the individual. Keep in mind that it doesn't always work out for everyone.

     

    Halverson believes that one of the biggest concerns of having virtual teams is that employees may feel their contributions aren't noticed or valued. "You don't want team members to feel as though they're just sending their work out into a vacuum," she cautions. "As a leader, you have to create a sense of involvement and inclusion so that your people don't feel invisible."

     

  • How Managers Can Best Motivate Top-Performers

    Top-performing employees are a critical force at your company, capable of 400 percent greater productivity than the average worker, according to research published in Personnel Psychology. Beyond their personal output, top talent inspire and motivate other employees to do their best work.

    Despite their production and leadership capabilities, top performers need to be motivated too, and this is largely the responsibility of the manager. As the Harvard Business Review notes, top talent at an organization are often defined as such in part because they have the technical skills and interpersonal adeptness to do their managers' jobs. This in turn makes them more sensitive to areas where management falls short. "High-performing employees are also motivated by different types of recognition, incentives and management styles than other workers," said Anne Hayden, vice president of human resources for MRINetwork. "As a result, supervisors need to make a constant, conscious effort to engage top-performing employees in the specific ways that appeal to them most."

     

    Hayden recommends four ways managers can increase motivation among top-performing talent:

     

    1. Give regular feedback

    Top performers are engaged in continuous learning, constantly looking for ways to sharpen their abilities, expand their skill sets and take on new responsibilities. If top talent have to wait around until their annual performance review to hear feedback, they're going to feel that their professional development is being stymied. Conversely, regular communication helps top-performing employees feel that their managers are invested in helping them succeed.

     

    2. Practice career pathing

    A major reason top performers leave their jobs is because they feel like there's no room for them to grow. However, helping them develop, and then follow a road map to where they want to be in the company can quell this frustration and unleash their motivation level: This is career pathing in a nutshell. By working together to help a top-performer advance, employees feel greater ownership over their careers and managers can align the individual's professional goals with the strategic goals of the company, thereby simultaneously boosting employee engagement levels and improving succession planning.

     

    3. Encourage mentoring

    Mentoring goes along with career pathing, as it is an effective way to develop top-performers for upper-level roles. A study by the American Society for Training & Development found that 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies use internal mentoring programs to train top performers with high potential. Mentors share valuable insights with mentees, not only on business knowledge, but also on important soft skills like how to effectively communicate with a range of stakeholders or efficiently manage teams. These relationships help top performers develop a more robust understanding of their company, its workforce and its industry. Mentorship motivates top-performers by demonstrating that the company is committed to their success.

     

    4. Don't micromanage

    Most employees don't want to be micromanaged, but top performers are especially sensitive to it as they consistently show that they not only excel in their job duties but also regularly go above and beyond what's expected of them. Instead of interfering with top talent's day-to-day work, take a step back and learn from them, advises Jeff Miller in a blog for HR services company Insperity. Top performers often have created novel workflows and unique processes that save time, increase output or improve performance. Smart managers are open to change and feel excited, not threatened by, ambitious employees with new ideas. They're genuinely curiously about how top performers work and are eager to have conversations with them about how to adopt their ideas on a larger scale. This recognition makes top performers feel appreciated and motivates them to continue innovating.

     

    "Top-performing employees are vital to your company's success, and managers play a big role in influencing whether they'll want to stick around," concluded Hayden. "With these tips, supervisors can help top talent flourish, instead of holding them back."