Archive for the ‘HR Management’ Category

People Power your Business Success

Saturday, January 4th, 2020

A new decade unfolds, and continued business success is on the minds of leaders and employees.  The primary advice I offer small business leaders is to ensure employees understand the business model, the competitive advantage, and service expectations for clients. Leaders should also gain an understanding of basic people practices such as job clarity and performance expectations, then manage and recognize staff so they can retain skilled talent.

Communication about how the business is doing and what may be changing, then encouraging input, is crucial. The biggest mistake small business owners make is to focus on elements they are most comfortable with such as financial management, customers or products and services, and overlooking solid employee practices—when it’s the people who power their business success.  Set your compass to focus on what’s most important – the collective talents of your employees.

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.

December Deadlines

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Whether or not your organization operates on a January to December performance or financial cycle, yearend can feel like “Crunch Time”.  There’s often an innate urgency as yearend approaches.  The end of the annual cycle.  Completing projects, finishing committee work, delivering results, achieving financial goals that are on performance plans, often means that extra effort must be applied – and now.

These same employees who power your business have lots more than work on their plate. With the added social festivities, religious celebrations, financial costs for gift giving, and other obligations, there can be high expectations on their shoulders.

You can help employees maneuver through the (dare I say) madness.  As an employer, you want to ensure priorities are completed, that employee health is maintained, and seasonal stress is reduced. Try these points:

  1. Checkin with employees now to review their yearend performance expectations. Better to have clarity and transparency now so you can look for solutions. For pressure points, see what can be extended to January; and, clarify what must be achieved.  Discuss ideas, support, and plans to ensure prioritized work will be achieved.  Sort out the ‘can wait’ non urgent work.
  2. Review the vacation schedule so you have a clear picture of who’s away, and what work may need to be covered by others.  Sometimes it’s the hardest working employees who don’t want to take time off, so ensure they have scheduled earned vacation time off.  Employee health and rejuvenation is important for your business.


Minimize the year end crunch by being fully aware of what’s in play.  Setup your organization, and your employees, for a year-end success story.  Next year is looking brighter already.  


Communicating Change

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Communicating Change

Most change in business is economy driven – whether an opportunity, a problem, or a crisis.  If you’ve managed a change in the way works gets done, you know that change can translate to temporary losses in productivity, time, and even staff or customers.  Exactly what and how change is communicated has a big impact on how the change is adopted.  And you want success!

While change definitely gets the headline, the hard part of managing change is making an effective transition to the new reality and new expectations.  Your communication will either support the change and the transition or create more resistance and barriers to the change.

Before You Communicate Consider:

  1. What’s in it for the people you are communicating to and other stakeholders?
  2. What can you tell them about the future? The Big picture/Vision.
  3. What can’t you tell them, why you can’t and when you will be able to tell them? Not
    everything will be known at the onset. How will you keep them informed?
  4. What needs to be done and when does it need to happen? (Goals, Timeframe, Actions)

When you Communicate:

  • Ask open questions that invite a thoughtful, specific response.  What questions do you have? Any concerns about the timeframe? How do you think customers will respond? Where do you think this will create the most challenge? How would you like to handle this part of the process?
  • Listen and respond to both facts and any individual concerns/fears.
  • Each time you discuss the change balance the communication by linking it back to: its
    purpose, the big picture, the plan, and the parts everyone will play.
  • As the change proceeds, announce progress…those first few steps are the path to
    the future.


When things are changing, increase communication!  There may be resistance to losing an old way and identity, fear associated with a new beginning (will I succeed?), and the disorientation that’s a natural part of transition. People may agree with the change, but personal transition is needed.  Keep acknowledging facts, respond to questions, provide reassurance.  In today’s market, be a change leader!

Shaping Tomorrow’s Workplace

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Shaping a new path for Tomorrow’s Workplace is essential to sustain and grow your business. With the many changes affecting businesses due to economic, social, globalization, and environmental challenges, plus the impending tight labour market and a diverse labour force, only a new journey forward will lead to continued success. 

The Surrey Board of Trade and SUCCESS have partnered to support small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in Surrey prepare for the future through the Tomorrow’s Workplace project.  Business, human resources, and diversity specialists are currently leading this initiative by working with selected businesses with a primary purpose to ‘help good businesses be great’ in the midst of the new realities. The vast majority of economic growth in our province is attributed to SMEs and the issues they face, with limited resources, require a clear focus for the future.

SMEs are most often started by one or two individuals with passion, knowledge, and an entrepreneurial spirit. As the business grows, complexities grow as well. Organizations must now take a holistic business perspective and prioritize the areas of knowledge, support, and tools to integrate that will support current and future success. In the Tomorrow’s Workplace project, one core focus is connecting businesses with community and employment resources in Surrey for maximum benefit by both parties. Shaping a workplace culture of resiliency, adaptability and change practices are also essential components to flourish in the future. Yesterday’s workplace, with set ideas, long standing routines and processes is truly a thing of the past.


Shape your business for continued success. Visit and benefit from our learnings. We’re producing a video story documentary of our work with businesses and will also be producing a toolkit with tools, resources, and learnings. The Surrey Board of Trade will host a launch event on May 20, 2010. Stay connected and sent us your views, ideas, and questions.

Gayle Hadfield
Tomorrow’s Workplace Project Manager

Supportive Exits

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Being an HR practitioner, I’m attentive to hearing what seems like daily stories of individuals losing their jobs due to this economic phase. Investigating this further, I’m finding that many employers are doing the right thing by keeping employees informed as to the state of their business and reducing operational and other costs to avoid layoffs. This makes sense, as individuals are the valued workers that power business success. However, not all employees are receiving support to help them transition to new employment.

Whether you’re the CEO, an Administrative Coordinator, or the Technology Engineer, in the span of our working lives, jobs provide us with core aspects for our wellbeing–as defined in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, including: self esteem, confidence, the respect of others, community/social belonging, challenge and personal growth, finances to provide for our homes, food and medicine. You get the picture – loss of employment, especially in a down market when other jobs aren’t readily available, can affect personal security, self-esteem, and wellbeing.

Individuals need a supportive transition to bridge new employment. With fewer jobs on the market, there are different techniques to secure a new position. Holding out for a full-time permanent position like they once had may have them unemployed for an extensive period. Small contracts lead to longer contracts; temporary employment can lead to permanent. This is the new reality of the workworld.

If a formal program is too costly, source one-on-one HR career consulting services to help them to: understand the new realities, plan, and implement their job search. For example, they’ll need a talent-based resume to stand out. The old style focusing on previous experiences and past skills don’t matter as much as current talents and fundamental strengths. Workplace routine is also out of style; people need to be change-ready with current talents, innovation, and clear thinking in order to meet business goals.

Because it’s the right thing to do

Be a responsible employer – show that you care about your valued employees, as individuals needing transition support to seek new employment. Remaining staff will see their employer “doing the right thing”, and you’ll benefit. People need to know they’re working for an organization that demonstrates they care when it matters most.

Small Business HR

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

People often tell me “we’re too small to need HR”.  Let’s explore this further, keeping in mind organizations with under 20 employees. Human Resources practices and tools are not reserved for medium-large organizations. Whether HR practices are formal or informal, they’re critical to your business success. As a business owner of a small business, here are HR practices that will help you hire, motivate, and retain staff that are productive and engaged on your business’s success.

  • Communicate the values, mission and value proposition of your organization’s service and/or products. People need to feel informed and included before they can commit. As a leader, you set the direction and need everyone on the same ship, staying the course. Hold regular meetings and provide business updates, and welcome employee ideas and input. Be a great person to work for.
  • Put job duties in writing, with non-negotiable service and behavioural standards. Then, develop specific objectives so they can focus efforts to achieve and exceed those expectations. You’ve shared your value proposition; these standards and expectations put ideas to action. Only then can you manage their efforts and provide constructive feedback, and praise. 
  • Hire the right people with strengths and skills aligned to each specific role. I often see smaller organizations hiring through friends and acquaintances and they forego a critical recruitment process. Employee referrals are great, as they’ve told others your organization is a good place to work. Just do your due diligence in aligning skillsets to your needs.
  • Develop employees. They’re in the right role; they understand your business value proposition; they work on a team with shared values. Help them develop skills that will build their confidence, expand their abilities, all aligned to your business needs.  These could be customer service related; furthering technical skills; expanding professional abilities.  People want to grow and succeed.
  • Recognize and praise a job well done. Whether an employee is developing your business, maintaining excellent administration support, or working directly with customers, they all have goals, objectives, and strengths. Praise and appreciation is motivating. And, motivation plus a focused effort equals productivity, satisfaction and retention.

Succeed through sound people practices

Human Resources practices are simply put the people practices that will sustain your business. People are the intellectual power that fuels your success. All your product, services, and internal processes only succeed through aligned people power. Show you value the power in your business.

2009 Employment Storm

Friday, January 9th, 2009

The current issue of MacLeans headlines “the employment storm of 2009 is on its way”. The main losses will be in construction, mining, oil, gas, and auto manufacturing. Projected job losses will impact industries such as retail, marketing, and advertising. For more information read any newspaper.

Economists, if correct, project that the pain will be brief and we’ll return to prosperity later this year or early in 2010. Optimism and hope for a timely recovery will help all of us head to the light at the end of this tunnel. 

For employers, staff shortages may take a reprieve and turnover levels may go down.  Employees are more likely to stay in their current position and ride out the wave. If they are looking around, they know that even the larger organizations are being impacted by the market. The ego-building period of multiple job offers is also on hold as employers take cautious steps. And, individuals nearing retirement are now extending their exit date to continue earning while they wait for their retirement nest egg to return to health. 

Costs of staff replacement go down, and your intellectual capital is retained.  Teams benefit by having the business knowledge, relationships and expertise intact. Use this time as an opportunity to build internal capacity; develop skillsets for succession planning; and recognize achievements. Increase communication with staff to keep them well informed.  Ask what types of support they need to support them personally.

I heard Suze Orman speaking yesterday – she’s the money guru who just launched a new book on basic financial planning for 2009. She has sound ideas on paying off personal debt, saving, and stabilizing for uncertainty.  Employees could start a discussion group based on the book and share ideas.

Review my previous Two-Minute-Tip on “Market Turmoil” for ideas on maintaining and building healthy employee relations, and keeping productivity levels up.

Who knows, when the market turns around, employees who were thinking of leaving may decide they’re right where they want to be.

Marketplace Turmoil

Friday, November 21st, 2008

We’re in the midst of far-reaching economic uncertainty and that brings forth concern and raises fear for many employees. If it’s not the daily discussions are about which jobs are considered “safe” and which jobs and industries will be impacted, your valued employees are looking at their RRSP statement or the TSX numbers, and that’s not comforting.

To be productive and focus on the work at hand, employees need a feeling of stability and direction. Meet regularly and keep employees involved as to your organization’s objectives and where you foresee changes to current objectives. To be impactful, employees must know where to focus their work efforts.  Shifting some duties and tasks may be necessary to ensure close alignment with any changing objectives. Once employees have this core information, they will understand the need for the changes, and they will have ideas that can support the organization; keep them involved and engaged.

To mitigate fear, communicate openly with staff. From an employee perspective “no news is bad news”. Withholding information may also hamper your ability to retain high performers who make their own conclusions and considering moving to an organization that looks more stable.

Should job losses be a consequence of the downturn, provide supportive outplacement services to bridge employees to new employment. This can take the form of individual and/or group sessions to support exiting employees with tools to plan and implement their job search.  It’s a win-win to provide exiting employees with support. Remaining staff will see their employer “doing the right thing”; and, you may look to rehiring exiting employees in the future once we’re through this downturn. 

Try This

Focus energy and efforts on these core elements:

  1. Employee Retention: Recognize solid performance; be transparent about your organization’s objectives and concerns; show flexibility in responding to employee requests; continue career development; listen to staff input.
  2. Productivity: take stock of employee performance and develop clear timelined goals; manage poor performance – this is not the time for less than ideal performance; tighten up what is not working. Employees, as partners, have a vested interest in maintaining a high level of productivity.
  3. Customer Satisfaction: Do all staff understand the heightened need to differentiate your services from your competitors? Revisit customer needs and refresh service delivery processes and competencies.