Why Getting Rid of Your Annual Reviews Won’t Work

You want to get rid of your annual performance reviews— and rightfully so. Nobody looks forward to those stressful, once-a-year meetings.

But simply getting rid of annual reviews isn’t a good idea. You’ve got to replace them with something better.

The “good” old days

The annual review process is clunky and antiquated, harkening back to the days when job security was the norm, employers and employees were happy sticking together for the long haul, and regular raises were pretty much a given. (Two martini lunches may have also been a thing.)

In this Mad Men environment, stability and consistency were the names of the game. Getting together once per year to review standard processes in a standard format was standard fare. Meeting annually to document last year’s performance and this year’s raise was generally seen as good enough.

But times have changed.

The workforce is much more dynamic and diverse. Business and technology are rapidly evolving and changing. Processes change. Consumer expectations change. Employer/employee expectations change. Technology and markets change. And, perhaps most importantly, employees are more mobile than ever.

If you wait an entire year to discuss employee performance, processes, metrics, needs and expectations, you will be having two completely different conversations. If that person is still on staff.

In the current business environment, stability and consistency can lead to a slow and painful death.

An inefficient model

Let’s think about things we do once a year, shall we?

  • File taxes
  • Cook a turkey
  • Try not to forget Valentine’s Day

Sure, you may be pretty good at some of these things. But imagine how much better you’d be at them if you did them more regularly. Chances are these skills would begin to come naturally and these occasions would be much more pleasant for everyone.

Let’s face it. You’re not going to be great at something you only do once a year, which is all the more reason to ditch the annual review process, right? But simply getting rid of it isn’t a good answer. Moving from awkward, inefficient feedback to no feedback won’t solve your two basic problems.

1. Both you and your employees need to talk about what’s working and what isn’t.

Employers need a workforce that can deliver results, and employees need to be clear about what those results are and how to best achieve them.

You can replace the annual review with a system for delivering timely, relevant feedback on a regular basis. Doing so will make performance management much more effective and much less stressful and intimidating. This is definitely a step in the right direction. It may even be the magic fix on the employer end of the equation.

But there’s a second piece to the performance puzzle that can’t be ignored.

2. Employees don’t just want feedback and kudos. They need to feel valued and appreciated.

Which means you need a plan to address career paths and, more importantly, compensation.

If you want your employees to stick around, they have to be able to see a future for themselves in your organization. Having weekly or monthly check in meetings with employees is great! And it would make sense not to talk about compensation during each of these sessions, because that would be serious overkill. But if you take compensation out of your feedback loop and just never bring it up, you’re asking for trouble.  

Like it or not, your employees expect to be recognized, not just with praise and accolades, but with raises. Sure, they may also want new titles, responsibilities, and promotions. But without an increase in compensation, all you’re doing is rewarding high performers with more work. Even if that’s truly not your intent, it’s how your staff will feel.  

Talking about compensation and pay increases is a natural part of the annual review process. So if you want to ditch the annual review, you’ll need to find a way to work those compensation conversations back into the rotation.

Feedback is great, but it isn’t everything

Creating a culture that doesn’t value employees is a surefire way to kick them out the door. But positive feedback, praise, and heartfelt appreciation won’t necessarily convince them to stay.

Employees associate high performance with increased pay. And many of them think the only way to get a significant bump in compensation is to change jobs and/or companies.

Don’t let this be the accidental message you’re sending your team. As you let go of annual performance reviews, make darn sure to put processes in place that address employee development, career paths, and compensation.

If you don’t, your employees will go looking for these things somewhere else.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by  Antonio Guillem

Healthcare predictions: What’s in Store for This Year and Beyond?

Guest blog content provided to Q4iNetwork consultants by freshbenies freshbenies-Logo-CMYK 2018

Love it or hate it, healthcare changes over time— as do the consequences for employers, employees, providers, and patients.

Each year, freshbenies attends dozens of conferences, speaks with thousands of benefits consultants, and reads hundreds of thousands of words about this industry. After all, we’re in this thing together.

Based on what we’ve learned, here are ten predictions for the coming year.

1. Costs will rise. Again.

This seems so obvious to those of us within the industry. So why even list it? Let alone as number one? Because it can’t be ignored, and it continues to rise. Last year, the annual healthcare costs for a family of four were over $28,000. Bottom line: families will continue to carry higher portions of healthcare increases, and it shouldn’t be overlooked or forgotten.

2. Low unemployment will drive creativity.

While rate increases are a constant, the biggest shift this year is to a 3.7% unemployment rate. Fear of loss is always a better motivator than the desire for gain. A tight labor market will drive employers to try innovative solutions more readily. This includes creative benefit plan designs, perk programs and programs for non-benefitted employees.

3. Innovative benefit plans will gain momentum. 

The pendulum will begin to swing toward less traditional plans, including:

  • Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID)
  • Reference-based pricing models
  • Association health plans
  • Captive medical plans
  • Direct Primary Care (DPC)
  • High-performance centers of excellence

When suggested in the recent past, many companies have declined to install these ideas amid complaints of complexity, employee confusion or skepticism of savings. But given the low unemployment rate and the fact that consultants are getting better at explaining these solutions and pulling them together – these types of benefit plans will increase.

4. Perks will pop.

Perks will continue to gain interest and traction. Services like gym memberships, healthcare navigation experts, telehealth, consumerism savings networks, pet care, identity theft protection, flexible hours, remote work, student loan repayment, car wash services, free snack programs, etc. are often the things people list when they brag about their workplace culture. They’ve become differentiators even among the big expense of health insurance. An employer can lose an employee to another company from the draw of perks that scratch an itch employees didn’t even know they had.

5. “Caring” support for workers will grow.

Every employer says they care about their people. But how do they actively show it? Smart employers are getting significant PR power by touting two specific sets of services…

  • Behavioral Health – The US Department of Health & Human Services estimates that 96.5M Americans live in areas with shortages of mental health providers. Effective tools that offer video visits with counselors and psychiatrists or even text-based guidance with specialists provide employees with new methods of care.
  • Caregiver Support – It’s estimated that 1 in 5 employees care for an adult family member or friend. This significantly affects an employee’s work life by adding stress and taking 15 to 20 hours of their time each week. New solutions are capturing employer interests, such as services that pair employees with a licensed coach whose expertise best matches their specific caregiving situation, as well as secure portals for documentation and collaboration. These benefits bring much-needed help, increase productivity and build tremendous loyalty.

6. Engagement will drive more decisions. 

Continued rate increases coupled with poorly-implemented cost containment tools will draw employers to focus on achieving employee engagement. Stats revealing low utilization will bring cancelation of past programs. A shift will take place from checking the box of offering a service to moving the needle on ROI via higher utilization.

Employers will be driving employees to programs that:

  • reduce in-patient, urgent care or emergency room visits
  • include Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), Centers of Excellence, and wearables
  • help employees effectively navigate the healthcare system, from selecting top-tier physicians, and providing price transparency to medical bill review and negotiation

7. AI growth will not be artificial.

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning in the healthcare app space will surpass $1.7 billion this year, while health data analytics will reach $68 billion. The strongest advancements will be with machine learning in diagnostic imaging, drug research, and risk analytics. On the benefits side, we’ll see AI functions being touted throughout websites and apps.

8. Little help will come from DC (Republicans)

With a divided Congress, we can’t expect significant changes in federal health laws over the next couple years. Rather, most changes to the “flavor” of ACA will come from the thousands of issues inside the law that were at the discretion of the various departments like Health & Human Services.

Hopefully, we’ll see bipartisan agreement with updates to Health Savings Account (HSA) laws. What’s controversial about that, right? Right. Be hopeful, but don’t hold your breath.

9. Lots of single-payer talk will come from DC (Democrats)

Remember when Republicans had one consistent chant of “repeal and replace?” Turns out it was a great slogan, but there was no actual plan to implement it. That’s exactly what “single-payer” is among Democrats this year.

Lawmakers have many different ideas about what these two words mean, but that won’t slow them down. Single-payer was one of the top subjects during the 2018 mid-term elections and it will gain traction throughout 2019, right into the 2020 election. But it’s unlikely that a workable plan will be developed.

10. True employee benefit consultants will be in demand.

Brokers who aren’t consistently improving their knowledge will fall by the wayside. Consolidation will continue and true consultants will be in demand more than ever before.

What does this look like? True employee benefits consultants will stop talking about how many decades they’ve been in business and start talking about how they can deliver results to the businesses they help.

They will separate themselves from the broker crowd by coming up with new ideas and new solutions that deliver better healthcare while keeping costs in check.

And when it comes down to it, isn’t that the future we all want to see?

 

Photo credit Andriy Popov 

Compliance: It’s Not Just About Avoiding Risk

Some businesses think staying in compliance is all about reducing risk and staying out of trouble. But companies that approach compliance as a way to help achieve their overall business objectives will do far more than avoid fines. They’ll build organizations that produce happy and productive employees, loyal customers, and a healthy bottom line.

The relationship between compliance and culture

For business owners, industry rules and regulations are a fact of life, and they can be used in several different ways:

  • As a threat to keep employers in check
  • As a set of rules to keep employees in check
  • As a helpful tool to make your workplace better, safer, and more pleasant for everyone

Now, which one of these three tactics do you think is going to make your business a more enjoyable place to work? Entice new employees to jump on board? Result in a more engaged and productive team?

Yes, you can control your team with threats and rules, micromanage behaviors with fear-based incentives, and rule with a culture of discipline. Or you can use compliance as a way to help you take care of your people and your business.

What’s your motivation?

Let’s think about some of the various aspects of compliance and approaches you may have taken or witnessed in the past.

Harassment

Is your main goal to avoid expensive litigation? Or is it to create a healthy workplace where everyone feels comfortable and respected?

Discrimination

Are you following EEO practices because you’re afraid of being sued? Or are you committed to fostering a diverse workforce with a variety of talents, viewpoints, and experiences?

Payroll

Are you paranoid about compliance because a screw up will cost you back pay plus any added fines and penalties? Or do you value your employees and want to make sure they feel appreciated and get paid correctly?

Benefits

Are you offering health insurance, sick time, and leave options because the law says you have to? Or do you want to invest in keeping your employees happy, healthy, and productive?

Privacy

Do you worry about data security because breaches are expensive and there are fines for releasing confidential information? Or do you truly care about your employees as people and want to protect them and their families?

Licensing

Do you require your staff to have proper qualifications because you don’t want to pay fines or be shut down? Or is it because you want to give your employees the tools they need to succeed and your customers the best service possible?

Safety

Are you checking the OSHA boxes because you’re terrified of the cost of a fine or accident? Or are you genuinely committed to making sure everyone on staff makes it home safely after their shift?

How you view compliance matters

The approach you take to compliance says a lot about the approach you take to running your business and taking care of your employees. If you’ve been looking at compliance as nothing more than a rigid set of rules you have to follow, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Short-sighted businesses view compliance as a necessary tool to control staff and protect the organization. But merely wanting to avoid claims isn’t an inspiring motivator.

Innovative, big-picture organizations see compliance as a natural extension of their business philosophy and strategy.

  • They will find opportunities to align their compliance practices with their purpose, values, and vision.
  • They will look beyond the rules to see why they are important and how they can support the things that matter to their employees.
  • They will associate good compliance practices with good business.

These kinds of organizations will also involve their employees in their compliance processes, giving them a sense of ownership and accountability. Engaged staff members can then become happy advocates and active participants in the creation and implementation of policies that create inclusive, safe, and healthy workplaces.

Some companies will continue to look at compliance as a set of boxes to be checked off, and they will technically be meeting their obligations. On the other hand, businesses that choose to embrace compliance as an opportunity to live out their people-focused values are those that will build the best cultures and attract the best talent.

Why not be one of them?

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Shopping King Louie

Are Self-assessments a Waste of Everyone’s Time?

Ugh. The dreaded self-assessment! Employees hate filling them out and managers aren’t quite sure what to do with them. Many on both sides will find themselves wondering if employee self-assessments are a useless, redundant activity.

If you’re in the yes camp on this one, it’s understandable. But perhaps you might want to start seeing them (and using them) in a new way.

There are two sides to every story

Employees may be asking themselves, “Why do I have to fill this stupid thing out? It’s my supervisor’s job to review my performance. Not mine.” And yet these same employees may come out of a one-sided performance review wondering if their boss even knows what they do all day.

The truth of the matter is that there are two perspectives going on at any given time. And unless workplace communication is interactive, clear, and happening on a regular basis, those two perspectives may not cross paths much. This is where a self-assessment can come in handy.

Upsides for employers

Alignment: Having your employees do self-assessments gives you a window into how they view their role, their priorities, their performance, and their strengths and weaknesses. If your team’s perspective doesn’t match what you’re seeing or what you expect, now you have an opportunity to talk about it and to create a plan to bring everyone to the same page. If your respective visions aren’t in alignment, that’s a problem. And one you may never hear about without this simple exercise.

Insight: Most leaders are responsible for more than just one person. In some cases, significantly more. Chances are you don’t have time to keep track of each of your reports’ actions and activities on a regular basis. Failures you will likely hear about, because they often interfere with progress. But every day successes can often slip by unnoticed.

Empowering your employees to track their own progress and results not only requires them to be more aware of and accountable for their progress, it also gives you additional insight and details. For even more impact, make sure your assessment encourages honest feedback on the challenges of the position. This will and alert you to specific issues that may be holding your team back.

Focus: A well done self-assessment won’t look like a freestyle diary entry. It will be a tailored questionnaire designed to track employee progress, successes, and challenges. To maximize the value of the exercise, you’ll want to create a self-assessment that addresses goals, priorities, processes, results, training, and career development. Give your employees enough time to thoughtfully fill out their assessments and turn them in well in advance of your meeting. This will help bring focus and structure to your performance management process.

Benefits for employees

The self-assessment process may seem uncomfortable for many. But evaluating yourself in the context of your work can have some positive upsides.

Establishing your worth: It’s easy to get caught up in the busy day to day of simply “doing your job.” If someone were to ask you spontaneously at the end of the day/week/month/year what you accomplished during that time period, you might just draw a complete blank. But filling out a self-assessment requires you to carefully review what you’ve been working on and what you’ve accomplished.

You may be pleasantly surprised at just how much you contributed to your team and your organization. Not only does this build confidence, it allows you to articulate your value and advocate for your future career path— at your current or future employer.

Creating a record: Not all supervisors are good about providing proper feedback and reviews. Proactively conducting a self-assessment will create a record of your performance, and a paper trail to back it up. If your boss is a fan of pushing off formal reviews or not doing them at all, a self-assessment can be a great way to bring up the subjects you want to discuss in another forum or with another manager or career mentor. Having this record will also help you update your resume if and when the time comes.

Providing perspective: Ideally, you and your manager will be on the same page about your job description, expectations, goals, and processes. But that’s not always the case. Taking the time to document your understanding of your role in the organization, what tasks and results are most critical, the key challenges you face, and how you see your position evolving can be enlightening not just for you, but for leadership as well.

Your experience and knowledge of the position puts you in a unique spot to offer constructive feedback and ideas. They key word here is constructive. If you decide to use your self-assessment as a vehicle to list off all of your complaints, it’s not going to serve you well. But if you use it to confirm, clarify, and develop your role, both you and your manager can benefit greatly.

What are you waiting for?

If you’re an employer, create an employee self-assessment system and start putting it to good use. If you’re an employee, stop dreading filling yours out! Instead, treat it like a helpful advocacy and communication tool it was meant to be.

 

Content provided by
Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by WAYHOME studio

 

20 Things That Matter to Your Employees

It’s no secret that many businesses are struggling to find and keep good employees. A common refrain is that this is due to a strong economy and low unemployment rate. And these factors are most certainly at play. But at the end of the day, employees choose to stay or leave for a variety of reasons.

Is there a way to make your organizational turnover magically disappear? No. But there are really just two basic steps to recruiting and retaining great employees:

  1. Find out what they care about.
  2. Do your best to provide it.

If you want to hang onto your best people, it serves you well to find out what they value and begin to shape your corporate culture around those key things.

What are employees looking for?

Don’t get stuck in the mindset that a paycheck is the only thing that matters. Yes, compensation is important. And it still ranks near the top of the list when it comes to reasons to take or leave a new position. But today’s employees care about a whole lot of things. And unlike during the recession, they aren’t afraid to venture out looking for new opportunities that provide them.

Lots of research has been done on what employees want out of their jobs and careers. If you want to take a direct approach that applies specifically to your team, business and industry, ask your employees what matters most to them. Survey your entire team regularly and commit to conducting exit and stay interviews with your best employees.

If you want some quick answers based on employee satisfaction research and studies, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s a list of 20 things that show up time and time again on the list of things employees want and need from their employers in order to be happy and satisfied at work.

  1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to employees. Hint: Fair, honest, and respectful treatment of all employees at all levels has become a basic expectation.
  2. Fair and adequate compensation – Employees will accept lower salaries in exchange for other meaningful things, but at the end of the day they need to feel valued AND be able to make rent.
  3. Comprehensive benefits – Healthcare is becoming a larger driver of job choice and satisfaction. Today’s job seekers are expecting to see benefits information listed up front in job postings, and they are using that information to make career decisions.
  4. Career development – Dead end jobs are so yesterday! If your employees can’t see a path for the future within your organization, they’ll start looking elsewhere.
  5. Trust – Levels of consumer and employee trust are at an all-time low. A culture of transparency will go a long way toward increasing staff loyalty and engagement.
  6. Meaning – Your employees want to be connected to something bigger than their To Do list. They want to work for companies who are doing good in the world, and they want to know how their work contributes to that vision.
  7. Flexibility – Employees are balancing a variety of responsibilities, both at work and at home.
  8. Balance – More and more people are prioritizing a healthy balance of work and rest. Your staff is willing to work hard, but they can’t (and won’t) do it 24 hours a day.
  9. Recognition – Feeling valued and appreciated is critical to keeping your team happy. This doesn’t have to mean constant praise or raises. But they need to feel that their work is important and that they are valued both as people and contributors.
  10. Communication – Poor communication and lack of information are top complaints of unhappy employees. It’s a basic thing that is often overlooked. Don’t be that employer.
  11. Culture – Nothing chases good employees away faster than a toxic manager or culture. Tolerating a negative environment and destructive behaviors will encourage bad employees to stay and good employees to leave.
  12. Leadership – Organizations with weak leadership will have a hard time hanging onto strong employees. Lack of clear direction, goals, and expectations leads to lack of engagement. Bottom line: positive, motivated employees want to work for positive, motivated leaders.
  13. Autonomy – Employees want to feel like their ideas matter and that they are capable of running projects and making decisions. Micromanagement will crush employee innovation, creativity, and initiative. It will also destroy engagement and morale.
  14. Teamwork – An environment of support and collaboration is far superior than working alone or in a vacuum. Even the most independently motivated workers want to know there’s a capable team behind them they can count on.
  15. Technology – Your employees want to be good at their jobs, and they expect to be given the tools to do so. Outdated tools and processes will quickly frustrate those who strive for high performance and continued improvement.
  16. Training – Developing your employee skill sets doesn’t just help you and your company. It shows your employees that they are worth investing in. And it keeps their work from becoming monotonous, boring, or stagnant.
  17. Diversity – Employees come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and preferences. Your employees crave variety and so should you. Not only do diverse teams perform better, they open the door to a wider pool of talent.
  18. Sustainability – Think people aren’t concerned about the long-term survival of their jobs, companies, communities, and the planet? Wrong. Sustainability has become a catch phrase for a reason, and today’s employees are factoring corporate social responsibility into their career choices.
  19. Integrity – For better or worse, employers lead by example. Increasing numbers of employees are looking for employers who demonstrate things like honesty, fairness, and equality, and they can tell the difference between companies who talk a good game and actually follow through.
  20. Security – Employees want to be part of financially sound and stable organizations. Yes, today’s workforce is mobile, but it’s not just about random job hopping. Career moves and decisions are often based on forward motion, increased opportunities, and the ability to get ahead financially. A chaotic, unpredictable, or volatile environment won’t feel like a safe bet.

How do you measure up?

Is your organization committed to providing some these kinds of things? If not, it’s time to start— unless you secretly enjoy higher turnover, lower productivity, and a constant struggle to find good people.

In that case, forget about this list and keep on churning through your staff. Your competitors will be more than happy to snatch up your best employees.

 

Photo by WAYHOME studio