Archive for the ‘Employee Relations’ Category

Total Rewards: More than Just a Paycheque

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Every successful business wants to attract, motivate and retain the right employees who will contribute to their organizational results. The best employees are looking for more than just a pay cheque in return for their time, talent, and effort. A “total rewards” package can balance the needs of both the employer and the employee.

Total rewards includes compensation, benefits, time away, work-life, performance and recognition, development, and career growth opportunities. High performing companies strive to leverage all components of  “total rewards” to their advantage. A tailored total rewards strategy results in satisfied, engaged and productive employees, who in turn create desired business performance and results.

Surprisingly, employees are often not aware of the program’s full value and benefit to them. It’s important to ensure your employees understand:

  • All components of your “total rewards” offering
  • The details of each segment
  • The monetary value of the “total rewards”

Prepare your communication with these ideas in mind:

  • Highlight what your employees will value most.
  • Identify major employee audiences including managers, support staff, salaried, hourly, single, family members, cultures, languages, and age. What messaging will speak to everyone’s needs and concerns?
  • To increase employee appreciation and loyalty, be honest with information that is accurate and verifiable.
  • Highlight areas that may be underutilized–often an Employee Assistance Program that can support their personal wellbeing.


Develop and communicate a “total rewards” offering that is competitive and speaks to the needs of your staff and business. The offering may also include low or non-cost items that are ‘of benefit’ and valued by staff. Do your research or speak with an HR professional to design a solid plan, then get back to business.

Vacation Scheduling or Bust

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Do you proactively manage employee vacation schedules? Do employees book vacation at the last minute – and tell you the flight is already booked, and you feel guilty saying no? Do longer-term employees book the coveted vacation times?  What’s your organization’s current liability of banked vacation time?

Many union Collective Agreements set out the vacation scheduling process. Typically selection is based on seniority and senior employees select their first ‘block’ of vacation. Someone with 5 weeks’ vacation may want one week at year end, so that’s their first choice. Then, once all staff have made a first choice, the cycle begins again for second choices. This provides a fair framework where everyone benefits.

Non-union worksites have much more flexibility, but often lack processes for the selection process.  This causes problems including: employees not taking minimum vacation periods; longer-term employees taking all the most desired vacation times; carrying over vacation to the next year with no plans to take it that next year; higher vacation needs in the 4th quarter, at a time when business results often ramp up to year end. This is unnecessary business pressure that must be managed.

Here are some core tips to build a process where everyone benefits:

  1. Develop a policy that meets the needs of your business, and staff. See what will work best with your valued staff. This may include a black-out period for an annual business deliverable; or, a ‘must-take’ time when your business takes a week off at year end; or other clause to best manage the business.
  2. Ensure a percentage of vacation eligibility is scheduled and approved by the end of the first quarter. The end of the 2nd quarter have 90% of vacation booked. Some individuals can get so wrapped up in your business they neglect time off, and stress has its toll.
  3. Encourage employees to plan time away to refresh, travel, or some other enjoyable endeavor.
  4. If you provide a banking option to the next year, set parameters, whether it’s when the vacation must be taken in the new year (1st Q?), or the maximum amount that can be in the bank from year to year. Keep in mind when an employee exits the organization, you’ll be paying out any unused vacation at the current year’s rate


Schedule and manage using an equitable process. Life’s busy, and employees will appreciate your effort to help them manage their well earned downtime. One business pressure checked off. Priceless.

The Gift of Family Time

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Looking for a meaningful way to show appreciation to staff that worked diligently all year to ensure your business success?  Let’s explore the gift of spending precious time with family.  There’s still time for 2010!

Employees are under added pressure in December from employers, and from family expectations. Businesses are asking for completion of annual objectives and projects by Dec. 31. Social and family expectations, while joyful in intent, involve use of valuable time, maybe travel, and there’s the money component.

The application of these ideas to your business will depend on your products/services. With some creativity, you’ll find something that has value for staff and works for your organization.


  • Time to attend a child’s school holiday event (do this year round).
  • Time to do some shopping – an extended lunch break or leaving two hours early.
  • A family party at work, welcoming partners and children at your workplace during working hours (3:30 to 5:30).
  • Let all or most staff leave at 1:00pm on Dec. 24.


  • For small organizations and non-profits, there is a trend to provide time off between Dec. 26 and January 2. A good time to relax, refresh and be with families.  If that’s not workable, have minimal staff either at the office; or, rotate an on-call process for emergencies only.
  • While Boxing Day is not a statutory holiday under BC Employment Standards, consider providing the day as a paid day off.  If you’re not a service/retail organization, think of the value to employees who can be at home with their families.


Engaged employees know the employer cares about their wellbeing and is appreciative of their contributions. Easy or Impressive, these valued gifts will reverberate back to the organization. Go ahead, try one.

Keeping the People who Keep you in Business

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Retention Strategies

Turnover is costly, both financially, and the time involved to source and integrate replacement staff.  Exiting employees may leave with: intellectual knowledge that is important to your business; client relationships that will need to quickly shift to other staff; and, depending on why they left and where they’re going, they may encourage others to leave. Risky business.

In this economic downturn phase when employee turnover is down, take time to explore retention, gain input from your staff, and implement strategies for future stability.

Before rushing to address turnover by integrating a new compensation plan or talent management strategy as potential solutions, following are some retention principles, drivers and ideas. Elements of rewards and talent management segments may still be required, but do your research to ensure the time, effort and cost in solutions will ‘hit the mark’. 

The strongest relationships between the intention of people to stay and other attributes include such items as pride in the employer overall, the employees’ affinity for the type of work, the leadership skills of management, trust, and teamwork. Creating a supportive environment, one with transparent communication from leadership, where everyone is pulling in the same direction and employee contributions are valued, are elements more important than compensation rewards when thinking retention.

Stay or Leave?

Start by finding out why your employees stay, and what would cause them to leave. Gather through informal conversations, formal interviews, or employee satisfaction surveys. This input will provide you with guidance for your organization-wide retention strategy. Share your findings and actions with staff so they understand you’re listening and committed to this partnership. This openness, dialogue and partnership is fundamental to being a valued organization to work for.

Be a place people want to work

Enhance your people practices to shape an environment where people are proud of the organization they work for, doing work that aligns with their strengths. You’ll be rewarded with motivated employees who share your passion for the business and strive to meet objectives. They’re likely to stay.

Workplace Resolutions

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

January 5 will see many employees returning to work after enjoying some well deserved time off with family and friends. They will have shed a lot of the stresses of the previous year and be well rested and ready to begin anew.  Some may quickly realize that the stresses of last year are still there, and like stepping into an old pair of shoes, things aren’t off to a good start. What wasn’t working last year? What caused those stresses? They may have forgotten over the winter vacation, but they’ll remember upon returning to work. There’s a window of opportunity in January, when many performance plans are set, to chart a course for improvement and changing work day habits.  

Personal resolutions don’t last without continued focus and support, but the workplace can be an excellent environment for change, through structure, feedback and check-ins. Scan the horizon to see what’s coming to mind as you read this. Yes, you’ll be setting new performance plans this month, but get your employees thinking along lines of what they’d like to improve and change.

Have them form one or two behavioural goals they’d like to focus on, then discuss what they envision as success. A solid performing employee who enjoys their work and is exceeding their objectives may be consistently working additional hours and they realize it’s affecting their home life. You have as much to gain by supporting them to make some adjustments to ensure their work/life balance is in check. This is only one example. Meet with employees in January and ask them what they’d like to improve to be more effective. You’ll get a variety of answers and that’s the beauty of understanding the individual needs of your staff. You need to ask and listen.  

Offer your support, guidance, and keep the communication channels open so they can raise this with you at anytime. 


Leaders that take an interest in the development and personal success of employees are on the right path; well, the only path when you think in terms of retention, employee satisfaction, increased productivity, and providing a healthy work environment where people can flourish. Who wins? Each individual, you, and your business.