The Stay Interview

When it comes to your employees, you likely conducted interviews on them when you first hired them. If you’ve had employees leave, maybe you’ve conducted exit interviews. But there’s another type of interview that often gets overlooked: the stay interview.

A stay interview? What’s that?

While exit interviews are conducted when an employee leaves to help management get a better understanding of what went wrong or why the employee left, stay interviews give management an idea of how they can help their employees stay with the company.

Stay interviews can help management gain a good understanding of what the company is doing right that makes employees want to stay, but it can also help determine what it is that would cause an employee to leave. This gives management a chance to identify strengths and weaknesses, and to work on improving those before it’s too late.

On top of that, stay interviews can help build stronger relationships within the company, which can ultimately lead to more trust throughout. When employees realize their thoughts and needs are being considered, they are often more likely to have positive attitudes and relationships. Following up on information learned in the interviews can help solidify this.

Stay interviews are also sometimes a better option than other ways to measure employee satisfaction, such as sending out surveys that often get buried in inboxes. Stay interviews provide a two way, face-to-face conversation that allows for questions and dialogue.

What questions should I be asking?

There are many questions you can ask during a stay interview, and often times, these questions depend on your business. If your employees do sales, you might want to ask them about a specific goal or initiative. If you’re in the world of technology, you may find value asking your employees how they feel about the software they’re currently using.

While a lot of stay interview questions can and should pertain to your specific business, there are also common questions that may be beneficial to conducting a worthwhile interview. Some common questions to consider asking include:

  • What keeps you coming back to work here every day?
  • What do you look forward to here?
  • If you could change something about your job, what would it be and why?
  • What would make your job more satisfying?
  • What do you want to see from upper level management/staff?
  • What might cause you to leave the company?
  • What can the company do more of for you?

What do I do next?

After you have conducted the interview, it’s helpful to do a quick run through of the employee’s answers to make sure you didn’t miss anything important. You may even notice a pattern of similar answers from different employees.

Once you have a good idea of what needs to change and improve, act on it! The purpose of the interview is to help you help your employees, and to improve employee retention based on the answers you hear.

Stay interviews can be a powerful tool to help you improve work-life for your employees, and to keep them around for years to come. When stay interviews and the information obtained in them are acted on properly, you’re more likely to retain your employees and avoid exit interviews.

Workplace Wellness

You may have heard about a trend that seems to be taking the nation by storm – corporate wellness programs. Corporate wellness programs involve offering certain types of health and wellness benefits and programs to employees, and these programs are rising in popularity.

Just how popular are these programs? A 2016 study by PwC showed that 76% of employers are offering wellness programs for their employees. 93% of small business decision makers even stated that the health of their employees is important to their bottom line (for more on this, check out this awesome survey). Some of the most common wellness initiatives offered by employers were physical activity programs and tobacco quitting programs.

Employers have many reasons for implementing these programs — from employee satisfaction and well-being (some job seekers actively seek companies offering these programs) to reduction of healthcare costs. However, in order to implement a successful program, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Make sure the program is accessible – with seemingly longer work days, remote workers and higher stress, employees might struggle to find time to access these programs. Strive to create programs that can be accessed in the workplace since that’s where workers spend most of their time. If you have remote employees, create programs that offer benefits where they are, such as discounted memberships at nearby gyms or online resources.
  • Creativity is key – Fitness is adored by some and disliked by others. To get your more stubborn employees on board, think outside the box when it comes to creating wellness programs. When you come up with unique and fun ideas, it can be cause for employees to get excited about getting involved and be intrigued for what will happen next.
  • All hands on deck – Implementing a wellness program is no easy task. To make your program successful, you need support from everyone involved. This includes the top level down to the staff. When more people are on board, it can help get the message out.

Wellness programs can be implemented in any business, no matter the size. While larger companies may have more resources to implement larger programs, small businesses can also implement awesome programs for their employees. Some neat ideas for small businesses include:

  • Freshen up vending machines – If your business offers vending machines, take a look at what’s in them. Rather than containing only cookies and potato chips, consider adding healthier options such as granola bars and fruit snacks. If you have soda machines, consider adding bottled juices and water. Not only will this add healthier options, but it can also give employees some variety to choose from.
  • Consider fitness trackers – If you’re not sure about being able to provide gym memberships, consider some type of fitness trackers. Fitbits can be a bit more expensive, but could function as a great employee gift. Pedometers are relatively cheap, and can encourage employees to get up and get some steps. You could also consider creating activity competitions using the trackers to keep it fun and exciting, and to keep people moving throughout the work week.
  • Implement something unique – Being a small business implementing a wellness program can have some cool benefits. If you have a small amount of employees, you might be able to try unique programs and activities that larger companies would struggle to implement. Bring in a masseuse and offer massages one Friday a month, or consider offering fitness classes at work. Coming up with fun and unique ideas can help keep your employees involved and excited to participate.

Once you’ve done what it takes to implement the program, you can rest easy knowing you’re helping improve your employees’ health and giving them some great work benefits. There are many benefits that can come from establishing a wellness program, no matter how small or complex it may be. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Liven up the workday – Let’s face it: sometimes the workday seems like it’s dragging on for ages. When you have a wellness program in place, you have the opportunity to split up the day and give employees a moment to step back from their work and get reenergized. For example, at Eide Bailly, our wellness committee has organized yoga sessions throughout the week around the lunch hour that employees are encouraged to attend right here in the office. This fun, get up and move activity helps break up the day and keeps employees on their toes.
  • Increased productivity – To piggyback off our last point, taking small breaks throughout the day can lead to employees being more awake and alert. This can lead to more focus on tasks throughout the day, and more energy for employees to complete their work.
  • This one is obvious: healthier, happier employees – Wellness programs are meant to maintain and improve your employees’ health. Wellness programs can help keep your employees from being susceptible to common illnesses, such as the cold or flu, which can result in them missing work. The programs can also help them fight off lasting health issues, such as heart disease and arthritis. When employees are healthy, they are likely to be in better spirits as well.
  • Attract – and keep – top talent – Employer sponsored wellness programs are so popular that job seekers often seek to work for companies that offer such programs. In fact, according to The Institute for Healthcare Consumerism, nearly nine out of 10 employees consider wellness benefits and programs when considering an employer. When employees find companies that offer these wellness benefits, they’re more likely to stick around.

Wellness programs are rising in popularity amongst employers and employees alike. With the benefits these programs can provide your company and your employees, have you decided if you’re ready to give it a try? Seem like a lot of work to implement? Don’t sweat it (see what we did there?) – our HR team can help you develop a program that works for your company!

Is it Time for a Promotion?

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: one of the coolest parts about starting a business is that you get to hire awesome employees to work for you. These employees are (hopefully!) putting a large amount of dedication and effort into the work they’re doing for your business, and they’re really impressing you. You might even be considering whether or not they deserve a promotion.

Here are four signs it might be time to hand out that promotion.

    1. They go above and beyond | All businesses dream of them, some businesses actually have them – the employees who go above and beyond what is stated in their job descriptions. When you hired this employee, you went over what was expected of them in their position – what their duties were, who they reported to and the scope of their work. However, you might have gotten lucky and found someone who does what is expected and then some. Maybe it is picking up slack of others, taking on multiple projects at a time or even working extra hours to get things done – this employee is a potential candidate for a promotion.
    2. They have a proven success record | When you hire an employee, your hope is they will do their job well. What’s even better is when they prove just how well they are doing their job. Success can be measured in many different ways, often depending on the type of work being performed. For example, maybe this employee has brought in more new referral sources than anyone else, or has seeing the greatest return on investment from a marketing project he or she completed. Another measure of success can be key performance indicators, or KPIs. KPIs can help hold everyone accountable for their tasks, make sure everyone is on the same page and ultimately map out goals that your business wants to reach. How well the employee is meeting these KPIs can indicate whether they are promotion ready.
    3. They’ve been with you through it all | Starting and maintaining a business is no simple task. It involves the highs and lows, the risks and rewards. Having an employee who has stuck by your side through everything is a huge bonus. When times got tough, this employee didn’t turn and run. Rather, they stuck around and helped the business fight its way out of the dark period and thrive.
    4. They’re a walking, talking version of your business | Your employees should promote the values of your business. If your business values giving to charity and volunteer work, you want your employees to participate and be involved with these initiatives. If you want your business to be seen as respectable and trustworthy, you want your employees to act in a manner that promotes this idea and lets people know what kind of people fit in your organization. An employee who displays the values and characteristics of the business at all times is not only a good fit for your company, but also helps promote a positive image.

 

Once you have decided to promote an employee, there are a few things to consider. When someone gets a promotion, it often comes with a pay raise. You will need to be ready to discuss this new pay rate, as well as ensure you are able to actually pay them the promised amount. You also need to note if there will be any benefit changes, such as extra PTO or bonus eligibility.

Another item to keep in mind is how you will communicate this promotion. Will you alert the employee privately and then tell the whole staff, will you hold an event or will the promotion remain private between the business and the employee? Also, keep in mind that other employees may be upset with this decision if they feel they deserved a promotion but were not given one. These employees need to be addressed individually so they understand the reasoning behind your decisions.

Employees are great and there are often times they are so great they deserve to be recognized for it! Considering the tips above can help you decide when it is time to give your employees the promotion they deserve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Value of Employee Referrals

By: Sarah Sanborn, Eide Bailly Recruiter

While it may seem like recruiters have an endless supply of candidates just waiting in the wings to be called, this isn’t quite true. You, and every member of your team, are a valuable resource that is vitally important to attracting top-notch employees.

Did you know that the average employee will have 150 contacts on social media networks? In other words for every 100 employees, there are 15,000 contacts and potential candidates (according to Hebberd). Need some more proof? Jobscan notes that “research has shown that acquaintances whose social and professional circles don’t have as much overlap with yours are more likely to connect people to new jobs.”

Chances are you, or someone you know, has many exceptional referral candidates waiting in the wings collecting dust.

Perhaps you can’t think of anyone you know who is actively seeking out a new job. Or, maybe you think there’s no one in your network that would have the skills you are looking for. Recent research has shown that more than 83% of candidates would consider leaving their current company if another company with an excellent reputation offered them a job (Hebberd).

There are a lot of great reasons for encouraging your employees to refer hires:

  • “Referral hires are widely known to stay longer on the job, perform better and have greater job satisfaction as well as have shorter time-to-fill periods.” (Jobvite) In other words, referral hires can make doing your own job easier.
  • A referred candidate is faster to hire than a traditional candidate. “On average it takes 29 days to hire a referred candidate, compared to 39 days to hire a candidate through a job posting, or 55 days to hire a candidate through a career site.” (LinkedIn)

So, how do you move forward from here? Share your network and refer, refer, refer!

  • If you haven’t already done so, connect with your company’s recruiters on LinkedIn. Share your social network – if you don’t have the time to dig through your contacts for referrals, connect with your recruiters, and they can do it for you. (PS, if your company doesn’t have recruiters, or feels too small to hire recruiters, we can help! Our HR team is always ready to help you recruit top talent for your business – just ask!)
  • Actively think about the people you are connected to. Who’s the best accountant (or engineer or administrative professional) you know? Who attended college classes with you? Who do you see at your professional networking events? Who works in your industry? Who’s up and coming?       Think of anyone and everyone you’ve had professional contact with or worked with – you never know where that talent may be hiding!
  • Most importantly, don’t forget to refer those that you think might not be interested. Recruiting includes reaching out beyond the initial candidate and expanding to include their network! If they aren’t interested, they might know someone who is.

Your company hired you, and they want to hire more people like you! With your help, recruiters can confidently identify and hire top talent. The ultimate goal of a recruiter is to help you with your staffing needs so you can remain focused on your business. Help them help you!

Motivating Your Remote Staff

By: Lauri Dahlberg, Manager of Firmwide Recruitment at Eide Bailly

Technology has changed the way many of us work. One of the biggest changes is the ability to work remotely. For several companies, this is a great opportunity to hire skilled individuals, regardless of where they’re geographically located. In fact, 25 percent of the workforce is telecommuting in some way (source).

However, with this ability comes a unique set of problems. One of the key areas centers on motivation. After all, how do you motivate employees you don’t see every day?

The key is RELATIONSHIP. Here are just a few ways to make that happen:

Schedule, schedule, schedule.

It’s important for your remote employees to still feel like part of the team. So take time schedule team meetings with the WHOLE group, including your remote employees. Also, make sure these are regular, not sporadic. Coming together as one cohesive unit on regular basis will help you foster and build teamwork.

Tip: make these meetings conducive to your remote employees. How? Work from home one day and call into your meeting remotely to see how it works. You may learn a thing or two.

 But more than just meeting with the team, you need to make time to meet one-on-one. Schedule consistent (weekly, bi-weekly … whatever works best for your organization) meetings with your remote employees. Take the time to make this a priority and discuss work tasks, projects, etc. Also, make sure you’re building rapport with your employees … read, don’t just get straight down to business. Take the time to talk about everyday stuff too.

Tip: Need something to guide the conversation? Set up KPIs with your employees so they know what it means to be successful, both individually and collectively as part of the organization. You can learn more here.

Utilize technology.

Don’t just stop at the phone because it’s easy. Find a way to communicate with your remote employees face-to-face. Look at video conferencing options, or find ways to incorporate Skype or FaceTime into your meetings.

This is for more than just meetings. You can even hold celebratory events via video or Skype, allowing the whole group to celebrate together. If you’re a really big planner, you can ship items to your remote employees ahead of time so they can partake in the celebration.

Get together.

Plan an annual team meeting so the whole team can be together in one room. Not only can you then deal with larger strategic initiatives and work on the business as a whole, but you can also plan a team outing or activity.

The moral of the story …

Remember to focus and make a concentrated effort to engage your remote staff. When you take this extra time, you’ll have a more engaged team, regardless of where they’re located.

A version of this article first appeared on the MN CPA website.

 

Tips for Firing … A lesson in HR

As a business owner, your job involves managing your employees. This can be fun, such as when you get to hire these awesome employees and bring them into your business. It can also be tough. Sometimes these employees just don’t work out as well as you had hoped. Sadly, this can lead to a tough decision– to fire or not to fire.

Here are some factors to keep in mind when preparing to fire an employee.

When

It might not have crossed your mind that when you fire someone can impact how smoothly (or bumpy) the process goes. Often, it works best to fire an employee at the end of the day. With the possibility of less employees being present, the employee won’t have to deal with awkward confrontation.

There is also a debate about what day of the week is best. Friday is usually regarded as the day NOT to fire someone. Why? Many offices, such as unemployment, are closed for the weekend, so the newly fired employees have to wait a few days to start getting things sorted out. Another reason to stay away from Friday is that it can make it look like you worked this employee hard all week, just to fire them at the end.

Where & How

Where and how you will fire this employee can make a huge difference, especially when it comes to safety. When picking the physical location, it’s best to pick somewhere where you can be close to the exit, such as a conference room. Making sure you’re near the exit allows for a quick exit if the employee were to retaliate (trust us… this stuff really does happen). It’s also important to keep in mind how the employee got to work. You don’t want to fire someone who gets rides to work and leave them stuck with walking.

Other Rules to Take Into Account

The government also sets some rules regarding firing that can get you in big trouble if you don’t comply.

Employment at Will

Unless you operate in Montana, your business has the option to implement employment at will policies and procedures. What does this mean? Well, employment at will, in its most basic sense, allows for a business or the employee to terminate the employment at any time, for any reason, or even for no reason at all.

In order to make sure you’re in compliance, make sure all contracts, whether implied or not, and other employee documents and agreements, such as a company handbook, don’t contradict the employment at will doctrines in your state. (Shameless Plug: If you need someone to make sure you’re in compliance, our HR team can help. Just ask!)

Legal vs. Illegal

Do you know what could be considered illegal when it comes to firing a bad apple? A lot of illegal firing methods conflict with discrimination issues. Policies such as Affirmative Action and the Americans with Disabilities Act make it illegal to fire certain employees without having a legitimate reason, or based on protected classes such as race, age, disability, etc.

If you are going to fire an employee, you must make sure you are in compliance with the rules of these acts. Otherwise, you might find yourself in more trouble than the employee was giving you.

Proof of Problem

When something goes wrong and insurance needs to step in, it is important to photograph and document everything. A bad employee is no exception. If you start to notice an employee acting out, it might be a good idea to start documenting right away. If the problem escalates to the point where the employee needs to be fired, it will be helpful to have solid proof of where the employee went wrong, rather than relying on “he said she said.” Although employment at will policies allow for an employer to terminate an employment without reason, having solid documentation as a backup can help prevent angry ex-employees from filing those pesky lawsuits.

Benefits Remain

Just because you are getting rid of the problem child employee doesn’t mean you get to sweep everything under the rug. When you hired this employee, it’s possible they signed up for certain benefits, and some of these benefits don’t disappear with termination.

Health insurance is one of those. Under COBRA, employers with 20 or more employees must offer temporary continuation of health care at a group rate to terminated employees. There are some exceptions under COBRA, but it is a good practice to stay up to date so this snake (come on, we had to) can’t come back and bite you for not being in compliance.

Of course we can’t forget about unemployment. If you fire someone, you have a legal duty to fill them in on any possible eligibility they may have to receive unemployment insurance. Fired employees are also required to remain eligible to receive pension and 401(k) plans.

Show Me the Money

If you’re firing an employee, it’s likely they will still have some compensation owed to them. It goes without saying that you still have to fork over this payment, but what could get you in trouble is when you pay them. Federal law doesn’t require former employers to immediately hand over the check, but some states have laws that disagree and require immediate payment. Some of these state laws may even require the employer include other compensation in the paycheck, such as unused vacation pay.

The moral of the story …

It is important to remember the majority of issues impacting the firing of employees varies by state. Contacting your state’s labor department can help you be sure you have the latest information to keep you out of trouble when firing a bad employee. If all this seems scary and you’re not sure where to look, let us know. We know how important it is to have someone monitoring all these rules, and our HR team is here to help you do just that.

10 Tips to Ace Your Phone Interview

By Allison Ausmus, Eide Bailly Recruiter 

Let’s face it, job hunting can be a daunting and draining process. You apply to a couple jobs and the one you really want reaches out to you to schedule a phone interview. Eek! Now what?

Companies often use phone interviews as a way to weed out candidates and leave the in-person interviews to those they feel are truly qualified for their open position. In other words, don’t take a phone interview lightly and prepare for it the same way you would for a face-to-face interview.

Here’s what you need to do to prepare and not be among the weeds:

  1. Learn more about the company, their history, mission statement and newest developments. Re-read the job description and prepare a well-thought out list of questions to ask.
  1. Prepare items like your resume and a “cheat sheet” with answers to anticipated questions (strengths, weaknesses, short and long-term goals, why you are looking for a new job, etc.). You’ll also need to be able to address any gaps in your work history. During a phone interview, the person can’t see you (obviously) so use this to your advantage. If you’re a paper person, print things out. Electronic more your style? Pull it up on your computer or smart phone. Just make sure you take time to prepare.
  1. Be prepared to make a case for yourself and point to different skills listed in the job description and how you fit each qualification. You can do this when the recruiter asks you what interested you in applying or when they ask about what your strengths are– make sure you are highlighting the strengths that best fit the job you applied for.
  1. Find a quiet space where you can talk freely. Home is ideal as long as it is a pet-free/child-free zone, devoid of distractions. If you do have a pet or child around, let the interviewer know at the beginning of the call that they might hear noises from kids/pet in the background.
  1. Allow plenty of time for the phone interview so you are not rushed.
  1. Not sure what we mean? Get a family member or friend and give them a list of interview questions to ask you. Then ask them for their feedback, paying attention to details like the speed you talked, if you kept saying “um” or “like” and if you sounded natural and confident.
  1. Smile when you talk! It might sound silly but it will make you sound more friendly and confident. Come on, just try it.
  1. Whatever you do, don’t interrupt your interviewer. If that happens, apologize and let them finish asking a question or talking. You don’t want to appear rude by interrupting your interviewer.
  1. Don’t be the one to bring up salary first. We know this can be an important aspect in your decision about a job. If the recruiter doesn’t bring it up, ask if they can provide the salary range for the position. Just be prepared for the possible result that they won’t give it. Some companies are more transparent than others with salary information.
  1. Ask questions. Just make sure they’re not ones the recruiter has already answered or addressed. And never forget to thank them for their time and ask about next steps in the process.