Roasted Sweet Potatoes for the Holidays

Welcome to our monthly Dish segment. This month, we’ve provided some of our holiday favorites. We hope you have a safe and happy holiday season!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

Ingredients

  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling potatoes after cooked
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Lay the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a roasting tray. Drizzle the oil, honey, cinnamon, salt and pepper over the potatoes. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes in oven or until tender.
  3. Take sweet potatoes out of the oven and transfer them to a serving platter. Drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil.

This recipe was provided by Food Network. If you’d like to visit the original source, please click here.


Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds McIntosh or Macoun apples
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 14 by 2-inch oval baking dish.
  2. Peel, core, and cut the apples into large wedges. Combine the apples with the zests, juices, sugar, and spices. Pour into the dish.
  3. To make the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.
  4. Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm.

This recipe was provided by Food Network. If you’d like to visit the original source, please click here.


**Holiday Hours

Our offices will be closed the following days in December and January:

Christmas Eve: Tuesday, December 24

Christmas Day: Wednesday, December 25

New Year’s Day: Wednesday, January 1

We wish you all a warm and happy holiday season filled with family, friends and good times!

Thank-you for joining us for this month’s Dish! Don’t forget to come back next month for a new one.


Implementing Auto Safety in the Workplace

Driving requires concentration and awareness. It only takes one distraction to lose control of your vehicle and crash. Most drivers overlook the importance of keeping their eyes on the road with a significant number attempting to text while driving. In this article, Cathleen Christensen, the Vice President of Property & Casualty at Hierl Insurance, sheds light on this issue and highlights some measures employers can take to curb such accidents.

After falling from 42,836 deaths in 2004 to 32,744 in 2014, fatalities are on the rise again and stand at 37,133 for 2017. The number one cause of all car accidents is distracted driving. “These crashes are largely due to drivers’ negligence,” Cathleen explained. A car traveling at about 55 miles per hour takes approximately five seconds to cover the length of a football field. Five seconds is also the average duration it takes to read a text. At work zones, the few seconds it takes for a driver to get distracted are enough to have them crashing into the work zone. In fact, distracted drivers are 29 times more likely to crash in work zones.

Insurance Losses

Insurance companies are taking the brunt of the financial consequences of drivers’ carelessness by paying for serious losses. The 2016 industry-wide commercial auto combined ratio reached a 15-year high of 110.4%, and the segment has produced an underwriting loss for six years running after years of underwriting profits. According to Cathleen, “One of the primary causes of the industry losing money is distracted drivers. These are drivers who are either talking on the phone or texting while driving. The real consequences are higher insurance premiums for our business customers.”

Measures Employers Should Take to Avoid Losses

Everyone needs to be aware of these measures to minimize accidents caused by distracted driving:

  • Better public education – Drivers need to be educated on the dangers of using their mobile devices while driving.
  • Implement safety policies and make sure employees understand them. These policies include making drivers aware of speed limits, checking their speed gauges and locking their vehicles when they are away from them.
  • Implement a policy regarding the use of phones while driving. Consider using an app that will help keep this policy in place. Employers should prohibit any work-related activity that requires drivers to text or make calls while driving.

Commercial drivers should not be left behind when developing new safety standards for your workforce. Some great recommendations are the following:

  • Review driving records
  • Review and inspect equipment for commercial drivers on a regular basis
  • Implement a sleep safety policy – truck drivers are especially prone to falling asleep while driving due to fatigue as a result of driving very long distances without rest
  • Educate employees on these requirements

What Can Hierl Do to Help?

At Hierl, we listen to clients’ needs and learn about their business to create programs that meet or exceed their expectations. We continuously work with customers to ensure driver safety and provide them with a matrix to help them have an objective measure to look at driving records. We also provide employers with communication material to keep their drivers aware of issues and concerns related to their safety as a prevention measure.

For more information regarding this issue, you can contact Cathleen Christensen at 920-921-5921 or by email at cchristensen@hierl.com.


DOL’s new fluctuating workweek rule may pave road for worker bonuses

The new fluctuating workweek rule proposed by the Department of Labor (DOL) could give employers additional flexibility when calculating employee overtime pay and could potentially make it easier for workers to get bonuses. Read this blog post from Employee Benefit News to learn more about this newly proposed rule.


The Department of Labor’s new proposal would give employers additional flexibility when calculating overtime pay for salaried, non-exempt employees who work irregular hours — and may make it easier for some workers to get bonuses.

The new proposal, released this week, clarifies for employers that bonuses paid on top of fixed salaries are compatible with the so-called “fluctuating workweek” method of compensation, or a way of calculating overtime pay for workers whose hours vary week-to-week. Supplemental payments, such as bonuses or overtime pay, must be included when calculating the regular rate of pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the DOL.

"For far too long, job creators have faced uncertainty regarding their ability to provide bonus pay for workers with fluctuating workweeks," says Cheryl Stanton, wage and hour division administrator, at the DOL in a statement. "This proposed rule will provide much-needed clarity for job creators who are looking for new ways to better compensate their workers."

Paul DeCamp, an attorney with the law firm Epstein Becker Green’s labor and workforce management practice, says the DOL rule clears up ambiguity surrounding when employers can use the fluctuating workweek rule. A preamble in a 2011 Obama-era regulation suggested that bonuses were contrary to a flexible workweek, DeCamp says.

“The department’s past rulemakings have created ambiguity — paying employees a bonus makes the fluctuating workweek calculation unavailable,” DeCamp says. “During the last administration, some people with DOL took the position that the fluctuating workweek was only available when the compensation the employee received was in the form of salary.”

This new update may make it easier for employers to pay out bonuses or other kinds of compensation to a specific group of workers. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia says the proposal will remove burdens on American workers and make it easier for them to get extra pay.

"At a time when there are more job openings than job seekers, this proposal would allow America's workers to reap even more benefits from the competitive labor market,” Scalia says.

DeCamp adds that the update will make it easier for employers to provide bonuses to these workers, without being concerned they are going to impact their overtime calculation.

“What this does is it makes it possible for employers who have salaried non-exempt employees to pay other types of compensation too — without worrying that in paying that bonus or other type of compensation they’re going to screw up their overtime calculation,” DeCamp says.

But DeCamp warns that employers should not confuse this regulation with the overtime rule that the DOL finalized in September, which raised the minimum salary threshold for overtime eligibility to $35,568 per year.

“These two regulations are not interlocking. They don’t really deal with the same subject,” he says. “They’re both talking about very different employee groups.”

SOURCE: Hroncich, C. (6 November 2019) "DOL’s new fluctuating workweek rule may pave road for worker bonuses" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/dols-fluctuating-workweek-rule-helps-with-worker-bonuses


How to Handle Pay-History Inquiries —The Right Way

Is your hiring team educated and up to date on pay-history regulations? Currently, there are 17 state-wide and 19 local bans that prevent potential employers from inquiring about a candidate's pay history. Read this blog post from UBA to learn more.


We’ve all been there. You’ve gotten deep into the job interview process, and then you’re face-to-face with the awkward question: would you share your previous salary?

Whether the question rears its head in a digital application or during initial in-persons, none of us like answering it. Many people, especially young people, are less committed to their employers and seek new jobs every few years in order to rapidly spike their salaries, yet having to confront the pay question is never comfortable.

Why Pay-History Bans Exist

To date, there are 17 state-wide bans on potential employers inquiring about pay history, as well as 19 local bans. The goal of these bans is to end the cycle of pay discrimination, as well as the cycle of low-earning and poverty.

Everyone knows that it has long been illegal for employers to pay different wages to men and women for the same work, but despite this, the wage gap between men’s and women’s earnings persists. One 2019 PayScale report found that women still make only $0.79 for each dollar men do. A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analysis discovered that in 2018, median weekly earnings for female full-time wage and salary workers was 81% of men’s earnings. When it comes to minority women and women of color, the pay gap is even more pronounced. The salary history ban is designed to put a stop to that, and begin to repair the damage it has caused.

Pay-history bans allow people who have experienced historically low pay or pay discrimination to have a fresh start when they come in to interview. Some bans go even further than merely blocking pay history questions. A few also prohibit an employer from relying on an applicant's pay history to set compensation if discovered or volunteered; others forbid an employer from taking action against employees who choose to discuss pay with coworkers.

Navigating Pay History

It’s important to ensure your hiring team is educated and aware of pay-history regulations. Read on for thought-starters on what your team can do to make sure you are compliant with these laws.

  1. Audit and review recruiting materials. The first step for many employers is to audit and remove any recruiting materials that ask salary-history questions in states where this is illegal. This includes but is not limited to digital applications, printed materials, and interview scripts.
  2. Develop alternate methods for assigning salary. Your HR and recruiting teams should be focused on finding the right candidate for the job, not necessarily the one who has the right salary profile or history. Asking questions about a candidate's comprehensive experience, previous tenure, and education can be smarter ways to determine what is fair when discussing salary. Using a junior, mid-level, senior, coding model can help your team develop salary ranges that are fair.
  3. Foster a culture of transparency. If it makes sense for your organization, it’s not a bad idea to share salary ranges for each job internally. This will help employees feel confident that their compensation is fair in relation to their colleagues’.

SOURCE: Olson, B. (12 November 2019) "How to Handle Pay-History Inquiries —The Right Way" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://blog.ubabenefits.com/how-to-handle-pay-history-inquiries-the-right-way


Know your people, know your data: Keys to measuring employee engagement

Does your organization offer a total compensation and benefits package that appeals to employees? According to research, over half of employees believe that health insurance is important in terms of their job satisfaction. Read this post for ways to measure employee engagement.


Offering a total compensation and benefits package that fits employee needs drives morale, motivation and performance in the workplace.

Simply put, people who are happy and healthy are more productive. When an organization offers benefits that appeal to employees (and workers know how to use these benefits) employers should see an increase in total productivity.

On the other hand, if a company is off the mark with the total compensation package, or simply hasn’t communicated the benefits to people correctly, it will either see unchanged productivity or a decline. Organizations struggling to find improvement in productivity should look at their employee benefits offerings for answers.

Providing effective group health insurance and well-being programs is a good way to reduce the amount of sick leave worker's take. If employees promptly get healthcare when they’re ill, they’re more likely to be healthier overall. If an organization doesn’t offer appropriate health benefits, the result can be presenteeism.

Additionally, the cost of presenteeism multiplies when sick staff are contagious. One sick person refusing to take a day off can snowball into multiple people arriving ill to work on subsequent days. When illnesses reach critical mass and it’s harder for people to recover from things like the flu or a cold, organizations may find themselves short-staffed when employees finally pay to see a doctor.

Job satisfaction and morale are also linked to employee benefits. Research shows more than half of employees believe that health insurance is important in terms of their job satisfaction — even more crucial if staff live in an area where medical services are expensive.

Strategies to measure benefits engagement. HR staff have multiple ways of measuring how certain workplace functions are performing. Here are some effective methods organizations can use to measure benefits engagement.

Staff surveys. Questionnaires that seek to understand what benefits your staff know they have, and how they’ll use them.

Pulse surveys. Asking staff short, frequent questions about a benefits platform.

Focus groups. Gathering cross-functional groups of staff members together to have a facilitated discussion about benefits.

Exit surveys. Include questions about benefits and satisfaction levels during exit surveys, and then investigate what their next employer might be offering to have lured them away.

If organizations are not regularly questioning how well their benefits plan is performing, they may be missing an opportunity to get key insights into how employees feel about their packages.

Offering employee benefits isn’t just to support an organization’s staff, it should also support an organization’s long-term sustainability. Employee engagement is one key measure. The challenge for organizations is ensuring not only that they include benefits that will be relevant to staff, but also that they properly educate them in what those benefits are.

The less staff are educated on what benefits exist and how they can use them, the less likely they are to engage with them. Not having an appropriate communication strategy can often set benefits plan performance behind.

Working with analytics and claims data can indicate when specific benefits aren’t being used. Knowing what causes the lack of engagement requires a bit of discussion and investigation, but finding sustainable solutions is completely dependent on understanding whether the issue is the benefits themselves, or the communication to staff.

SOURCE: Rider, S. (1 November 2019) "Know your people, know your data: Keys to measuring employee engagement" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/using-data-to-measure-employee-engagement


IRS increases retirement contributions for 2020

Workers who contribute to 401(k), 403(b), 457 and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plans will be able to contribute up to $19,500 in 2020, according to a recent announcement from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Read the following to learn more about this increase in retirement contributions.


The IRS said this week that workers contributing to 401(k), 403(b), 457 and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plans plans can add $19,500 next year, an increase from $19,000 in 2019.

The move could help workers save more for retirement, but it may be inconvenient for employers who’ve already started open enrollment, experts say. Employees are now able to set aside $500 more for retirement.

“Every penny counts when you’re saving for retirement, and the higher contribution limit is definitely going to help,” says Jacob Mattinson, partner at McDermott, Will & Emery, a Chicago-based law firm. “But since companies are in the midst of open enrollment, employers may have to go back in and change the entries for employees who want to contribute the max.”

There are about 27.1 million 401(k) plan participants using roughly 110,794 employer-sponsored 401(k) plans, the Employee Benefit Research Institute says. Ninety-three percent of employers offer a 401(k) plan, and around 74% of companies match workers’ contributions, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management.

While the vast majority of employers do offer retirement savings plans, employees may still be struggling to sock away money. Around 70% of workers say debt has negatively impacted their ability to save for retirement, EBRI says.

“Thirty-two percent of workers with a major debt problem are not at all confident about their prospects for a financially secure retirement, compared with 5% of workers without a debt problem,” says Craig Copeland, EBRI senior research associate.

The IRS also upped contribution limits on Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees plans, or SIMPLE retirement accounts, to $13,500 from $13,000. The agency did not change the contribution limits to IRAs, which remain at $6,000 annually.

SOURCE: Hroncich, C. (7 November 2019) "IRS increases retirement contributions for 2020" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/irs-increases-retirement-contributions-for-2020


A benefits wishlist for millennial employees

Only six percent of millennials feel like they make enough to cover their basic needs, according to an Economic Innovation Group study. Many employers are now tailoring their job postings, descriptions and benefits to correspond with the millennial wish list. Read this blog post to learn more.


Millennials are the new core workforce. Their concept of work is different than the standards set by previous generations. They bring bold, new approaches of what work should be, how and where it should be performed, and what the rewards for work should be.

While this has made some employers uncomfortable, millennials are not likely to change their ways. Employers must reassess their concepts to bring out the best of the unique millennial personality.

When I look at the U.S. workforce, I see a dramatic shift in the attitudes, personalities and attributes of millennials, which makes up the majority of the workforce. Millennials bring many positive attributes to the table, including a preference for flat management structures, multiple degrees, technological skills, energy and self-confidence. They also have high expectations for themselves, prefer to work in teams, are able to multitask and seek out challenges.

However, millennials have the highest levels of stress and depression of any generation. About 20% of millennial workers have suffered work-related depression. Millennials want their own living space, but they’re less likely to become homeowners because of student loan debt. Only 6% of millennials feel they're making enough to cover basic needs, according to an Economic Innovation Group national survey of millennials. As a result, 63% of millennials would struggle to cover an unexpected $500 expense. This generation wants to live within their means, but they’ve never been taught how — they need and want to be educated on how to achieve financial independence.

Think about your corporate strategy for attracting millennials. Here are just a few of the ways companies are tailoring their job postings, descriptions and benefits to correspond with the millennial wish list.

Working with meaning. Millennials want to have meaning in their work. Past generations may have worked simply because they needed to pay the bills. Millennials want to get paid too, but they also want to know that their employer is doing more than making and selling products or services. They aspire to social causes and want to know why the organization exists and how they can personally participate and contribute in that culture.

Continued personal growth and career advancement. Millennials want to be coached and have work-life balance. They want management feedback, even if it’s negative. Regular pay increases and promotions are important to them too. It shows that you’re invested in their career path and value their contributions.

Flexible hours and the ability to work remotely. They want flexible hours and the option to work from a location of their choice. This flexibility also contributes to their desire for no added workplace stress. Technology has made it possible to connect 24/7 from anywhere on any device. If you have yet to adapt your culture to accept this new norm, you’ll likely be missing out on this generation of candidates.

Technology. Millennials are smart-device people. Who better to move your organization forward than the individuals who grew up knowing how to download and use an app, or create a widget that solves a problem? They think technology-first and is required for any organization looking to remain competitive.

Financial wellness. A robust financial wellness program that includes self-directed education, competitions, games and rewards will pique millennial interest. Products and services like financial coaching, cashflow tracking, early wage access and credit resources that address their financial challenges will keep them engaged. Above all, a financial wellness program must be tailored to each individual employee to achieve maximum participation and behavioral change.

Employers must be vigilant in order to keep the best and brightest talent. They should also be proactive in managing their employees on a personal level, especially millennials. Otherwise, they are likely to be disengaged and move on — and that will cost money.

As managers and leaders of the organization, it is your responsibility to ensure that millennials understand their future in the company and to communicate that they don’t have to go somewhere else to advance. Employers and leaders have a responsibility to provide millennials with a desirable place to land, and a culture that encourages them to thrive. Don’t give millennials reasons to leave your organization. We need to support them, engage them, reward them and give them reasons to stay.

SOURCE: Kilby, D. (6 November 2019) "A benefits wishlist for millennial employees" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/what-employee-benefits-do-millennials-want


It’s time to consider a wage and hour audit

When is the last time your company conducted a wage and hour audit? According to the Department of Labor (DOL), a record $322 million of unpaid wages were recovered for the 2019 fiscal year, $18 million more than what was recovered for the 2018 fiscal year. Read this blog post to learn more.


Those who believed the Trump administration would scale back the Obama-era Department of Labor’s aggressive enforcement of wage and hour laws may be surprised to learn that the DOL recently announced that it recovered a record $322 million in unpaid wages for fiscal year 2019. This is $18 million more than that recovered in the last fiscal year, which was the previous record.

The agency has set records in back wages collected every year since 2015, according to data released by the DOL. This year, the average wages DOL recovered per employee were $1,025. The agency’s office of federal contractor compliance also announced that it had recovered a record $41 million in settlements over discrimination actions involving federal contractors, an increase of 150% over the last fiscal year.

Effective Jan. 1, the new salary threshold that most salaried employees must earn to be exempt from overtime pay will be $35,568, or $684 per week, under the final rule issued by the DOL in September.

With the new salary threshold taking effect soon, and the DOL continuing to aggressively enforce wage and hour laws, it is a good time to consider conducting a wage and hour audit to ensure that employees are properly classified as exempt or nonexempt and that other pay practices comply with the law.

Employers who did this in 2016, only to find out later that the Obama administration’s proposed hike in the salary threshold would not take effect, may have a strong feeling of déjà vu. But this time, there does not appear to be any viable legal challenge that would delay or block the salary threshold change, so employers must be prepared to either increase salaries of “white-collar” exempt employees (who earn less than $35,568) or reclassify them as hourly employees by January.

Among other things, a wage and hour audit should include the following:

  • Review all individuals classified as independent contractors;
  • Review all employees classified as exempt from overtime under one or more “white-collar” exemptions (administrative, executive, and professional), who must earn at least the $35,568 salary threshold beginning January 1, 2020;
  • Review all other employees classified as exempt from overtime, including computer and sales employees; and
  • Review all individuals classified as interns, trainees, volunteers, and the like.

In addition to ensuring whether employees are properly classified as exempt or nonexempt, a thorough wage and hour audit should look at a number of other issues, including timekeeping and rounding of hours worked, meal and rest breaks, whether bonuses and other special payments need to be included in employees’ regular rate of pay for calculating overtime, and payments besides regular wages, such as paid leave and reimbursement of expenses.

SOURCE: Allen, S. (8 November 2019) "It’s time to consider a wage and hour audit" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/employers-should-consider-a-wage-and-hour-audit


7 Tips for Coaching Employees to Improve Performance

Did you know: Coaching is central to improving team performance. Effective coaching skills, like managers and leaders, are critical to the success of a business. Read on for seven tips to effectively coach employees to improve performance.


Managers and leaders are critical to the success of a business, and so are effective coaching skills. Consistent coaching helps with employee onboarding and retention, performance improvement, skill improvement, and knowledge transfer. On top of these benefits, coaching others is an effective method for reinforcing and transferring learning.

While there are many important leadership skills and competencies, coaching is central to improving the performance of entire teams.

A coaching leadership style is proving to be much more effective with today’s employees than the more authoritarian styles that many business leaders operate under. Leaders who coach employees instead of commanding them are able to build a much more talented and agile workforce, which leads to a healthy and growing business.

Think back to your peewee soccer days (or any team sport, really). I bet you can think of three kinds of teams:

  1. The directionless group of kids running around aimlessly, taking frequent breaks for cookies and juice.
  2. The organized group who focused, but still had fun.
  3. The hyper-focused, aggressive group.

And how do you think these teams got the way they did? The coach, of course! The first group had a coddling coach, the second had a balanced coach, and the third had an intense coach living out his failed soccer dreams vicariously through a group of 6-year-olds.

Which seems like the healthiest group? Hopefully, you said the second one. But how do you coach in such a way that produces a healthy team?

Good coaching can be easy to spot, but hard to emulate.

First, you need to meet your team members where they’re at. Coaching isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Some people will need a lot more handholding than others, depending on where they’re at in their job role and overall career.

So before we get to our seven coaching tips, here’s a quick look at how you can align coaching conversations with individual employees’ needs.

How to Coach Employees at Different Levels

The best coaches don’t use the same coaching style for each individual team member. They’re flexible enough to adapt to the situation at hand.

There are five levels of employee performance, and you’ll have to adapt your style for each one to coach them effectively:

  • Novices
  • Doers
  • Performers
  • Masters
  • Experts

Level 1: Novice

Novices are in the “telling” stage of learning. They need to receive a lot of instruction and constructive correction. If you’re confident in the people you’ve hired, then they probably won’t need to stay in this stage very long. Also, watch out for your own micromanaging tendencies – you don’t want to hold an employee back from moving to the next level!

Level 2: Doer

Once Novices begin to understand the task and start to perform, they transition to the Doer stage. They haven’t yet mastered the job, so there’s still a heavy amount of “tell” coaching going on. But they’re doing some productive work and contributing to the team. So, there are now opportunities to encourage new behaviors, and praise Doers for good results.

Level 3: Performer

As Doers start accomplishing a task to standards, they become Performers. Now they’re doing real work and carrying their full share of the load. And they’re doing the task the way it should be done. With Performers, there’s much less “tell” coaching, if any at all. But there’s still feedback, mostly focused on recognizing good results and improving the results that don’t meet expectations.

Level 4: Master

Some Performers may continue to grow on the job and reach the Master stage. At this point, they can not only accomplish tasks to standards, they can do so efficiently and effectively. Plus, they have a deep enough understanding of what should be done that they can teach and coach others on the task. And they know enough to actually help improve standard processes.

Level 5: Expert

Experts are valuable members of the team and may become front-line team leads. Experts don’t need a lot of direction – they’re highly self-sufficient. If anything, they can provide direction to others. Experts don’t necessarily require a lot of recognition and praise to stay motivated, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want any.

7 Coaching Tips for Managers and Leaders

So, now that we’ve gone over the different performance levels your employees can be at, let’s get to what you came for – the tips!

These coaching tips will work with any of those five levels and can help you have more mutually beneficial coaching conversations that will improve overall team performance!

1. Ask guiding questions

Open-ended, guiding questions lead to more detailed and thoughtful answers, which lead to more productive coaching conversations. As a manager or leader, it is critical that you develop strong relationships with your employees. This will help you determine if your employees are curious, have the capacity to perform and improve, and what kind of attitude they have towards their work.

This is where communication skills and emotional intelligence really come into play. Managers must guide conversations both by asking questions and listening, not by giving directives. Employees learn and grow the most when they uncover the answers themselves.

2. Recognize what’s going well

Coaching well requires a balance of criticism and praise. If your coaching conversations are completely focused on what’s not working and what the employee has to do to change, that’s not motivating, it’s demoralizing.

Your recognition of the things your employee is doing well can be a springboard into how they can build from that to improve. We’re not talking about the compliment sandwich here, though, because that coaching technique often devolves into shallow praise that comes off as insincere.

Giving compliments that you don’t actually mean can have a worse effect than not giving any at all, so take the time to think about specific things that are going well, and let your employees know that you see and appreciate them!

Another aspect of this is how the employee likes to be recognized. This is a good question to ask them from the start of your relationship – does frequent recognition help them stay motivated, or is every once in awhile sufficient? Do they prefer recognition to be given publicly or privately? The last thing you want to do is embarrass someone when you’re trying to be a good coach!

3. Listen and empower

Coaching requires both encouragement and empowerment. As a manager and a leader, your job is to build one-on-one relationships with employees that result in improved performance.

Your employees are likely to have a lot of input, questions, and feedback. It’s important for them to know you care enough to listen to what they have to say, so encourage them to share their opinions.

Some employees will have no problem speaking their mind, while others will need a LOT of encouragement before they share an opinion with you openly. Once they do open up, be sure to respect those opinions by discussing them, rather than dismissing them.

4. Understand their perspective

When you’re coaching employees to improve performance and engagement, approaching things from their perspective, rather than your own, will help enormously with seeing the changes and results you want.

Everyone has different motivations, preferences, and personalities, so if you ask questions to help you understand where their “why” comes from and what their preferred “how” looks like, then you can tailor your coaching conversations to align the way they work best with the improvements you’re both aiming for.

For example, maybe you recently moved from an office plan that had lots of individual offices to a much more open-plan, and one of the reps on your sales team has shown a drastic decrease in successful calls. If you start asking questions and find out that this is someone who is excellent in one-on-one conversations, but rarely speaks up in a group setting, then you can see how they’d feel like everyone is listening in on their call, making them less confident than when they had their own space.

With that perspective in mind, you can work with them more effectively on how to get their numbers back up.

5. Talk about next steps

Coaching conversations are meant to yield changes and results, so be sure to clearly define and outline what needs to happen next. This will ensure you and your employees are on the same page with expectations, and provide them with a clear understanding of the practical steps they can take to make changes and improve.

Also, these next steps should be mutually agreed upon – talk about what is reasonable to expect given their workload and the complexity of the changes being made.

6. Coach in the moment

If an employee comes to you with a question about a process or protocol, use this opportunity to teach them something new. If you’re not able to stop what you’re doing right away, schedule time with them as soon as possible to go over it.

Better yet, keep a weekly one-on-one meeting scheduled with each employee so you can go over questions and issues regularly, while maintaining productivity. Coaching employees with a goal of improving performance means making them a priority each week!

7. Commit to continuous learning

Make a commitment to improving your own skills and competencies. If you’re not continuously learning, why should your employees? Lead by example and your team will follow.

Show that you are interested in their success (why wouldn’t you be?). Ask questions about where they see their career going, or how they see their role evolving in the company. Even if they don’t have a plan laid out yet, these questions will make them think about their career and what they want to accomplish within the organization.

Show your employees that you don’t just want them to do better so you look better, but that you’re actively interested in their career, accomplishments, and professional success.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a critical aspect of coaching employees in a way that builds relationships, boosts engagement, and improves performance. Managers and leaders can see greatly improved coaching skills by taking steps to improve their EQ – they go hand in hand!

SOURCE: Brubaker, K. (24 September 2019) "7 Tips for Coaching Employees to Improve Performance" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?open-article-id=11617247&article-title=7-tips-for-coaching-employees-to-improve-performance


It’s Time to Stop Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Did you know: By 2024, 25 percent of the workforce will be 55 or older, which is up from 11 percent in 2000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Read the following blog post from UBA to learn more about stopping age discrimination in today's workplace.


The kids are more than all right: they’re the stars of the show.

It seems like developing market research in every business sector is all about millennials and Gen Z. How do we capture and retain their interest? How do we market and remarket to them? What are they interested in to begin with? What do they find attractive in a brand or company?

In the midst of a culture that glorifies youth, we must be particularly careful about how we recruit employees of all ages, and not neglect the benefits of a multi-generational workplace. After all, corporate diversity initiatives should be 360 degrees, and that includes age.

According to research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25% of the workforce will be 55 or older in 2024, up from 11 percent in 2000. People are retiring later and staying in their careers longer. Studies also show that workers older than 50 are more engaged at work than the younger generation, and therefore can provide a unique perspective that may not be present in millennials or Gen Z.

So how do we make sure that these older employees are part of our team? One of the biggest keys to preventing and reversing age discrimination is simply making sure that age is included in your diversity discussion as plainly as possible. Many initiatives center on understanding how gender, racial, and ethnic diversity plays a role in company operations, but little time is spent on age.

"There's substantial evidence that an age-diverse workplace, especially in industries that tend to exhibit ageism, can lead to more effective teams and companies," says Chip Conley, Airbnb's strategic advisor for hospitality and leadership.

A good first step to mitigating age discrimination at work is how you present your company to begin with. If your digital presence and recruiting materials are full of photos of trendy 25-year-olds, you are sending a clear message about who you’re looking for.

Additionally, if you are funneling money into social ads for hiring, you might be missing great talent entirely as older generations are less available to these types of communications. Make sure any job listings are scrubbed of age-related language like “digital native” and “tech-savvy.” These terms immediately deter older talent and narrow your candidate pool. The consequences of non-adherence to age-neutral hiring practices goes beyond just missing out on talent. Failing to keep a multi-generational team in mind could put your company at risk for expensive age discrimination lawsuits.

Another way to grow an age-diverse team is to promote talent from within. Millennials and Gen Z have less loyalty to companies than previous generations, and that reputation may not be due to their own lack of values. If millennials age but do not experience career advancement opportunities or investment from an employer, they will look elsewhere to get the promotion they want. Conversely, if your team has a strong career advancement pipeline, you’ll be able to retain talent that grows with you while diversifying your age group.

SOURCE: Olson, B. (31 October 2019) "It’s Time to Stop Age Discrimination in the Workplace" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://blog.ubabenefits.com/its-time-to-stop-age-discrimination-in-the-workplace