It is early July and a time when many people enjoy fresh picked Ontario strawberries. Ideally, they are picked in the morning, purchased and then eaten all in the same day in order to really benefit from the freshness of the fruit. If strawberries sit in a basket too long, there is a high probability that one berry will start to get mouldy and the result is that it will cause the others to quickly follow suit.
This example is no different then dealing with a challenging or difficult employee. When a worker is disengaged or unhappy, he may act out or influence the dynamics on a team causing productivity to be compromised. Often leaders struggle to manage a difficult employee because they are not sure what to do. Perhaps their skills are strong, but they just can't seem to get along with others. There are various ways an employee can prove challenging. If left unaddressed, the results can harm the team and, in time, the organization's culture. When there is disharmony in the workplace, it can result in higher absenteeism and illness, which can also have negative consequences on the employer's benefits plan.
Here are some tips for effectively dealing with a challenging employee:
1) Get feedback. Ensure you have a comprehensive perspective from team members and other leaders who have recently interacted with the challenging employee. When you have a more clear picture, it becomes easier to find out if feedback is consistent.
2) Meet with the employee. Don't wait and hope the problem will go away. If you do, the employee may turn out to be just like the example of the mouldy strawberry. Talk to the employee to find out what information you may be missing so that you're not making any assumptions. If you have feedback to give the employee, try to provide it within 24 hours or no later than 1 week from the incident. Giving feedback immediately is proven to be more effective and remember that the reason for providing it in the first place is to help the employee be successful.
3) Provide clarity and direction. When giving feedback, ensure the employee understands what is required of him in order to be successful. Then, check in for understanding and ask if there is anything else he needs to share on the topic. Let him know in no uncertain terms what the consequences will be if he is not able to meet the requirements you've set out for him.
4) Know when to say enough. There comes a point when you've invested so much time in one challenging employee that you've paid far less attention to the other employees who may need direction and support. Knowing when to remove the mouldy strawberry is key. When you feel that you've exhausted all viable avenues and procedures related to performance management, it is best to end the employment relationship.
Before proceeding with point 4), it is important to engage an Human Resources consultant or an external expert. Having been in business for a number of years, we have developed a vast network of trustworthy and experienced resources to support your needs. I encourage you to contact us so that we can facilitate your objective, allowing you to get back to focusing on what you do best more quickly.
For many employers who already have a benefits plan established in their workplace, they understand the importance that a well-designed plan brings to their employee base for various reasons including, attraction, retention, absence and illness prevention.
Ensuring that their existing plan meets the changing needs of their workforce then becomes more of a strategic focus wherein employers generally look to review their plan design in 3 to 5 year increments.
For some employers, the prospect of introducing a benefits plan seems costly and out of reach. According to a 2013 Government of Canada report, there are approximately 8 million Canadian workers without employer-sponsored benefits coverage.
Worries about the unpredictability of benefit plan costs is a major fear for small to mid-size employers. Based on a 2011 LIMRA Study, employers without benefits plans fret about the making benefit promises they might not be able to keep over the long haul of their business.
In smaller organizations, employers tend to wear many hats and there often isn't a role dedicated to benefits administration or Human Resources. In this scenario, running the benefits program becomes a daunting prospect and likely one to be avoided. The real problem is that smaller and mid-size employers face many of the same issues as their larger counterparts. In fact, the need for having a benefits plan in place may be even greater.
We understand benefits and can help by offering many cost-effective products and services to fit employers specific needs and budget requirements. We begin our exploration by asking employers who are interested in offering a plan or who are looking to revisit their current plan, "What do you want to offer in a benefits plan and why?" We ask about the plan's main objective to help our clients get really clear about their goals.
Then, we inquire about their current and potential changing needs and we explore the landscape of the workforce from a demographic perspective. We also look at the annual budget for providing coverage and follow this step by addressing employee communication needs.
Our strategic, clear, and detailed process makes it easy for employers to focus on what they do best all while ensuring employees have a benefits plan that works for them and for the organization. Contact us. We're here to help.
Work-life balance, flexible hours and up-to-date technology top the list of employee requests when it comes to an ideal work environment.
Increasingly, Canadian employees are feeling burnt out and stressed. According the *Staples Advantage Workplace Index Report, employees are working long days where 4 out of 10 work weekends at least once a month. Employees are taking fewer breaks if any at all and often eat lunch at their desk.
With the rise of mobile technology, workers are never far away from the latest text, email or social media news feed. They feel 'always on' and inundated with inboxes filled with unnecessary emails and attend meetings that they believe aren't productive -- all which take away from the ability to complete work assignments.
Employees are looking for fewer distractions so they don't feel they need to bring their unfinished work home with them. They believe many of their emails and meetings are disruptive and add to their already overfull workload. The report also indicates that 37 percent of workers say more workplace flexibility would help their output. In an age where employers are looking for methods to increase productivity and engagement, flexibility appears to be a solution worth exploring.
The issue of flexibility cannot be undervalued as work-life balance continues to bubble to the top of requirements employees are looking for from potential employers. As the war for top talent continues, eliminating the concern around work-life balance remains a critical consideration. In fact, the report reveals that 1 in 5 employees state work-life balance as a reason for considering a job change and 4 in 10 employees listed it as a leading factor in their loyalty to their current employer. In some case, it is turning out to be more important than an increase in salary.
The report also makes it clear that employers who provide current technology create a work environment where employees can do their work more effectively and efficiently. The by-product for the employer is higher engagement and retention scores. The bottom line appears to be that employers wishing to maintain their competitive advantage must keep pace with technological changes.
In a study by BMO Financial Group focused on Canadian women, the findings indicate that only 47 percent of women feel they have achieved the right work-life balance. The respondents indicated that employers could help women balance their lives more effectively by offering better benefits (27%), providing flexible time (24%) and increasing or providing sick/family emergency days (21%).
It isn't easy to keep ahead of all of the findings and reports that reflect employee needs particularly when operational aspects of the business compete for attention. I invite you to consider contacting us. We're always here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
*download a copy of the Staples Advantage Workplace Index Report
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.