11 Things to Know About Gen Z

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    Next up: 12 at 12 on Workforce
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  • 12 at 12 on Workforce

    Last Friday, I had the opportunity to have lunch with 12 COSE small business owners to talk about workforce issues and their businesses.

    Last Friday, I had the opportunity to have lunch with 12 COSE small business owners to talk about workforce issues and their businesses. Lunch was at the new Adega Restaurant at the Metropolitan At The 9 Hotel. Pretty neat new place and some great conversation and informal networking among those that attended. 12@12 is a good chance for a small group of small business owners to share ideas and talk about what they are thinking about in their business.

    In general, the whole process of finding workers continues to be difficult. In the polling we do of members about 20% indicate that it is hard to find the workers that you need for your business. While that sounds like it’s not much of a problem, when you consider that only 25% of you are in the mode of hiring at the current time it changes the picture quite a bit. That means that 4 out of 5 employers that are hiring are having a hard time finding who they need. That sounds crazy given how many folks are still out there unemployed or underemployed and with a lot of money being spent on government workforce support systems like www.ohiomeansjobs.com.

    The owners in the conversation indicated difficulty with finding the “right” employees. A lack of the right skills was a big one. No surprise here, but finding people with current skills continues to be difficult.  Beyond skills though, most indicated a real willingness to train people with the right attitude and with the ability to show up on time, drug free and ready to work. Most of the attendees were boomers or X’rs with a real desire to give people a chance to work—but there has to be a commitment by the employee to want to be there and be accountable for the work they do.

    The process of identifying job candidates has also gotten trickier. Newspaper classifieds don’t do the job they once did and there are all kinds of different job sites, job boards and social media tools out there making it hard to know just where to go. The owners at lunch mentioned some good luck with www.indeed.com, FaceBook, and www.craigslist.org.

    Work ethic was another topic of conversation. And as we talked through that issue, it seemed that the best approach was being clear with expectations and holding employees accountable. Then following up to ensure that those that don’t fit, don’t stay was some good advice. One of our attendees recommended the book “Traction” (www.tractionbook.com) as a good read for establishing structure and accountability in your business that helps to set expectations and grow customers.

    Internships haven’t been heavily pursued. We explored internships as an opportunity to both build a pipeline of employees and as a way to imbue some real world education in students to help better prepare them to be quality employees. For most, internships feel like a difficult way to get help. From structuring and managing the role to finding the right students and then getting real value from them, there seemed to be a lot of perceptions that discouraged interns as an option. Folks were encouraged to check out resources like NEOIntern and the Northeast Ohio Talent Exchange at www.NOCHE.org or highly managed intern programs like at Youth Opportunities Unlimited at www.youthopportunities.org.

    Overall, good conversation on what seems to continue to be a tough topic for small business owners. If you’ve got ideas on workforce, have found good solutions or want to share your own story, I’d love to hear from you at smillard@cose.org.
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    Next up: 12 Essential Elements of Engaging Your Employees
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  • 12 Essential Elements of Engaging Your Employees

    Around the world, only 13% of employees are engaged in their jobs. Disengagement is more than just a percentage in a Gallup report, though. A disengaged workplace is the emotional effect of poor management. It’s an outcome that employees can feel on a daily basis, one that has a major impact on a company’s performance — no matter its size.

    Around the world, only 13% of employees are engaged in their jobs. Disengagement is more than just a percentage in a Gallup report, though. A disengaged workplace is the emotional effect of poor management. It’s an outcome that employees can feel on a daily basis, one that has a major impact on a company’s performance — no matter its size.

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    Disengagement carries a hefty price tag. In the U.S. alone, active disengagement costs organizations half a trillion dollars each year. For the largest of companies, disengagement is a proven drain on efforts to reach profit goals and reap improved earnings per share.

    For small and medium-sized businesses? Disengagement can be fatal.

    But it shouldn’t cost a lot to engage your employees. For years, Gallup research has proven that an engaging workplace starts simply enough: with managers asking their employees the 12 questions that gauge their emotional connection to where they work. There’s a hierarchy of considerations, a sequence through which to address the 12 elements that Gallup knows directly impact engagement. 

    Don’t overlook an employee’s basic needs
    Do your employees know what is expected of them at work? Do they have the materials and equipment they need to meet — and exceed — those expectations? It seems easy enough, but plenty of companies struggle to ensure that their people have what they need to do their work to the best of their ability.

    Don’t treat every employee the same
    Do your employees get to do what they do best every day? Have they received recognition for their efforts in the past week? Do they feel that someone at work cares about them as an individual? Do they have someone at work who encourages their development?

    These questions are specifically worded for a reason. Engagement resonates on a personal level, at the core of an employee’s feelings. To be engaged, they must feel connected to their work at as individual a level as possible.

    Don’t take teamwork for granted
    Do your employees think their opinions count at work? Do they think that the mission or purpose of their company makes them feel their jobs are important? Do they think their fellow employees are committed to quality? Do they best friends at work?

    Imagine just how more productive and efficient your teams could be if your people could strongly, genuinely agree with each of these statements. You can achieve a lot with an empowered, mission-driven workplace attuned to quality and cooperation.

    Don’t forget to address the future 
    Do your employees have the chance to talk about their progress? Do they have an opportunity at work to learn and grow?

    No matter what they do day in and day out, it is vitally important for managers to talk to their employees about how well they’re doing their job. That also means making plans for acquiring new skills or experiences related to their role.

    Listen, learn, and lead to engage your employees 
    Gallup research has proven that measuring employee engagement using these 12 elements predicts performance on the metrics that matter most to companies of all sizes—turnover, productivity, and profitability, among others. We also know that these are the elements of engagement that managers can most directly impact on a daily basis, too. That’s important, because it is up to managers to listen to their employees, learn how to engage them in their work, and then lead their teams every day with those needs in mind.

    There are plenty of strategies and techniques managers can use to engage their employees. But all efforts always come back to asking those 12 questions and addressing the 12 elements of engagement in everything your managers do.


    About Charlie


    Charlie Colón is Gallup’s Global Channel Manager for employee engagement. He helps companies implement Gallup’s employee engagement solution for small- to medium-sized organizations to increase their productivity, customer engagement, quality, retention, safety, and profit. He has worked with clients in the financial services, hospitality, healthcare, and retail sectors.

    Prior to assuming his current role, Charlie served as Executive Director of Gallup Technology. He managed a team of technical project engineers who develop software used by clients and associates and served as the product manager for Gallup’s online reporting portal, which is used by more than 800 clients. Charlie also led Gallup’s information technology efforts worldwide. He managed a staff of technologists that served operations in the United States, China, India, Australia, Singapore, Bangkok and Tokyo.


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    Next up: 13 Essential Employment Contract Provisions
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  • 13 Essential Employment Contract Provisions

    Get familiar with what you should include in your next employment contract by looking over this handy guide.

    There are as many types of employment agreements as there are industries. A machinist, a college professor, and a non-profit director will all have unique contracts specific to their vocation. But there are universal provisions off of which each unique contract builds. Things like scope of work, compensation, term and termination are indispensable in any employment agreement because they come into play 10 times out of 10. Other provisions like non-competition, works for hire, and confidentiality are protective measures. Still others act as incentives for valuable employees.

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    Below, we’ll discuss each type of essential employment contract provision that you should include when hiring.

    Descriptive Provisions

    Provision No. 1: Scope of employment. Each employment contract should contain a job description with particulars about the employee’s responsibilities. This provision should identify whether the employee can be demoted, transferred to a position with different responsibilities, or have their existing responsibilities modified or increased. Travel and relocation should also be discussed. 

    Provision No. 2: Compensation. The compensation provision will list out base salary, signing and production bonuses, and base benefits such as pension plans and health, life, vision, and dental insurance. It will also address the circumstances where employee salary can be reduced; these may include suspension or termination of an applicable professional license or the company coming under qualifying financial distress.

    Provision No. 3: Term and termination. No contract lasts forever, but ideally we’d like to keep the good employees for the long run and weed out the bad ones. If your business isn’t employing at-will (meaning it can terminate at any time for any reason or no reason at all), there are several mechanisms to achieve this. One is a term-based contract with renewal provisions; renewals can be automatic with options not to renew, or can be elective by both parties mutually.

    The flip side of that coin is to consider how an employment contract might be terminated before its natural end. Typical grounds for termination include employee’s criminal conduct or breach of the employment agreement; other grounds for termination can be added based on acts that are detrimental to the business, such as revocation of a practice license. Keep in mind that if you’re granting company equity to an employee, you may want to include a claw back provision in the case of termination for cause.

    Provision No. 4: Probationary period. Some employment starts with a feeling-out process, a trial run to see if the applicant fits your business before offering him or her the benefits of a long-term contract. If you hire your employees on this basis, be sure to address all the conditions and guidelines of the probation period. These include the duration of the probation, training guidelines, and assessment standards. In all cases, notify the applicant of the results at the end of the probationary period to avoid an implication that they have (or have not) been retained long-term.

    Protective Provisions

    Many of these provisions center around retaining and maintaining the value that employees bring to the business. When a company invests in an employee, protective provisions ensure that the company remains in control of that investment.

    Provision No. 5: Non-competition. Very common in employment contracts, “non-competes” prevent an employee from taking a position with the employer’s competitor, investing in a competitor, or establishing a competing business during employment and for a certain time afterward. The non-compete must be reasonable in time and geographical scope to be binding; a conservative non-compete might be for two years after employment and prohibit competition in a five-mile radius of the employer’s place(s) of business. If your non-compete is aggressive, you may want to include a blue-pencil clause in your contract.

    Provision No. 6: Non-solicitation. The non-solicitation provision is an extension of the non-compete. It prevents an employee from soliciting, discussing, or accepting employment for competing business from another agent or employee of the employer.

    Provision No. 7: Work for hire. This provision states that an employee who creates products, methods, or any other work that is ripe for intellectual property protection as part of employment automatically assigns ownership to the employer. In this way, the employer owns the creation and the underlying intellectual property at the outset.

    Provision No. 8: Assignment. An assignment agreement is a catch-all that supplements the work for hire provision. It states that the employee also agrees to assign any creations made by the employee that fall outside the scope of the work for hire provision. This is an especially important provision if a personal creation was made using company equipment, funds, or on company time.

    Provision No. 9: Best efforts. A best efforts provision reaffirms the employee’s dedication to benefiting the employer and devoting his or her full attention to business during work hours.

    Provision No. 10: Confidentiality. Oftentimes an employee will need to be briefed on confidential or sensitive information in order to perform his or her work. Under a confidentiality agreement, the employee promises never to disclose this information to an outsider and to take reasonable steps to prevent inadvertent disclosure. This type of provision usually lasts well beyond the employment itself, in perpetuity unless and until the information itself ceases to become secret.

    Provision No. 11: Alternative dispute resolution. If a conflict arises over the employment agreement, employers will often require mediation before either party can sue. This encourages a candid out-of-court discussion and can save significantly on time and legal expenses. If mediation doesn’t solve the issue, some contracts call for the dispute to be handled by binding arbitration rather than litigation for a more expedient, cost-efficient resolution. 

    Incentive Provisions

    Provision No. 12: Employee benefits. Benefits make for a more attractive job offer, and can often sway a potential employee where salary alone cannot. In addition to insurance and pension, companies sometimes offer stock options – or outright equity – to high-level employees. The equity may be granted according to a vesting schedule as part of a “golden handcuff,” or as an option with a fixed price. Most incentive packages have a one-year cliff before the employee can begin to realize any equitable benefit. If you’re offering equity, consider including a tax distribution to cover the employee’s additional taxes as a result of receiving the benefits.

    Provision No. 13: Employee Liability Protection. Extending a limited liability company’s protection to an employee takes the pressure off when they have to make important decisions with a company-wide effect. Being free to make tough decisions without risking their personal well-being is essential to productive employment for a manager or director. Employee limited liability has two components: director’s and officer’s insurance (D&O insurance) and bylaws that provide for agent indemnification.

    Mark Turner is an attorney at The Gertsburg Law Firm. Get more legal tips for your business on The Gertsburg Law Firm blog, with new articles every week.

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    Next up: 13 Takeaways from GCP’s Panel Discussion on Retaining Millennial Workers
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  • 13 Takeaways from GCP’s Panel Discussion on Retaining Millennial Workers

    Hiring millennials seems to be a top-of-mind topic for employers. This young group of workers can bring new talent, fresh perspective and renewed commitment to your business. But what is the trick to keeping them long enough to make a powerful impact on your company?

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    To highlight some of the ways companies are tackling this issue, GCP pulled together the following experts for a panel discussion in December: Marzell Brown from Rockwell Automation, Jeff Heinen from Heinen’s and Ashley Rivera from Union Home Mortgage.

    Here are 13 tactics to retaining millennials from the discussion that you can implement in your company:

    Provide millennials with feedback and information

    Takeaway No. 1: Create resource groups that provide feedback on different topics important to millennials and the company as a whole.

    Takeaway No. 2: Establish a rewards system that changes frequently so managers are forced to recognize and acknowledge workers regularly.

    Takeaway No. 3: Develop a program where millennials have exposure to people higher up in the company for feedback and guidance, such as regular lunch and learns or even more direct mentoring opportunities.

    Takeaway No. 4: Make sure your company is transparent and important information reaches all levels. Hold regular senior management meetings, where those leaders then take that information back and share it with their departments.

    Takeaway No. 5: Consider an open floor plan for increased communication and collaboration.

    Show millennials they are valued, respected and trusted

    Takeaway No. 6: Survey your staff often so they have a voice in things happening within the company. Leverage their opinions and knowledge.

    Takeaway No. 7: Put someone in charge of retention—a staff person to go to with concerns and issues and someone who is checking in to make sure employees are content.

    Takeaway No. 8: Get to know your employees. What is important to them? What will keep them satisfied with their job and the company—increased responsibilities, flex time, travel?

    Stand out in a crowd of employers

    Takeaway No. 9: Give back. Research shows that millennials want to not only do well, but do good. Make giving back to the community part of your company mission. Offer a company match program or organize volunteer days.

    Takeaway No. 10: Be socially responsible. Work sustainability into your company values wherever you can.

    Takeaway No. 11: Offer regular trainings and other opportunities for employees to build on their skills. Don’t just focus on their current job, but on their next job as well.

    Takeaway No. 12: Improve benefit packages. Competitive salaries are important to millennials (and everyone!), but so are other benefits like more vacation time.

    Takeaway No. 13: Create an effective internship program. Form partnerships with high schools and colleges. A good relationship with their career services staff will ensure you get the best-of-the-best, and ideally the internship program will feed into regular staffing.

    Interested in doing more to build your leadership skills and a stronger team? Join us for an event February 7 on an interpersonal approach to workforce development.
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    Next up: 19 Things You Need to Know About Finding and Keeping Talented Workers
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  • 19 Things You Need to Know About Finding and Keeping Talented Workers

    Finding and hiring talented staff is an eternal issue for small business owners. To help alleviate that challenge, members of COSE’s Strategic Planning Course gathered recently for a roundtable discussion on some of the things entrepreneurs should keep in mind as they dip into the talent pool and also try to retain the staff they already have. Following are 19 takeaways from that discussion. 

    Finding and hiring talented staff is an eternal issue for small business owners. To help alleviate that challenge, members of COSE’s Strategic Planning Course gathered recently for a roundtable discussion on some of the things entrepreneurs should keep in mind as they dip into the talent pool and also try to retain the staff they already have. Following are 19 takeaways from that discussion.

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    1. Identify the type of candidate you want.

    2. Prior to beginning your hiring search, ask such qualifying questions as: What kind of culture am I trying to build? And does this person need to be an Internet whiz?

    3. Are there people already working in your organization who might be able to refer a potential candidate?

    4. Job boards such as Indeed and Career Board can be great resources.

    5. Think back to what you did the last time you had to hire. What worked? What didn’t?

    6. How do you acquire customers? Consider utilizing that same strategy to finding good employees. Just like potential customers might be doing business with someone else, your next potential hire might be working for someone else right now. Put yourself out there and go after that person, even if they’re employed.

    7. Know what you want and know what you’re willing to give up to get what you want.

    8. Related to No. 7, prioritize what you want and what’s most important to you and this job you’re trying to fill.

    9. Don’t wait until you have a need to begin thinking about all this stuff. You should always be recruiting ahead of a need. Keep the relationships going with the people you interact with. You never know when you might be calling on them again.

    10. Looking to entice millennials to your workplace? Think about what they want out of a job, such as telecommuting opportunities and a fun workplace culture.

    11. Something to keep in mind if you have millennials already working in your office: Often times, this group of people feel the best way to get a bigger jump in pay is by going to a new employer.

    12. One more thing about millennials: There is no fear factor with this group. They feel they can find a job quickly if need be.

    13. Excessive turnover in your business can cause current employees to leave as well. For example, if you have trainers on your staff who are constantly training new hires, they can get burned out and then they could leave, too.

    14. When you move into hiring mode, look closely at the resume of the candidate. Are there a lot of “two-year-and-out” jobs listed? That might be a red flag.

    15. Turnover is not necessarily a bad thing. Some churn can be good because it can infuse your business with new ideas and a fresh perspective.

    16. Word of mouth works. People know people, who know people, who know people, who knows someone who would be a fantastic fit for the job you have available.

    17. Leverage LinkedIn. Find employees who have profiles similar to the people already working at your business. Again, even though these people might already be employed elsewhere or even if you don’t have a job opening at the current time. It will at least build the pool of people you have to go from when you do have something to offer.

    18. Remember to tell your employees thank you. Be genuine. If someone gets a project done on time, or if they do a good job handling a customer, recognize them. And give them a specific reason why you’re thanking them.

    19. Keep work/life balance in mind. For some employees, that can be more important than a raise.

     

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