Home » Tag: LBi HR HelpDesk

Newsday Names LBi Software a Winner of the Long Island 2018 Top Workplaces Award

2018 top workplaces

LBi is proud to announce that we have been awarded a 2018 Top Workplaces honor by Newsday. We’d like to thank all of our employees, who made this happen.

The list is based solely on employee feedback that was gathered through a third-party survey that was administered by research partner Energage. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.

According to survey responses, some of the things we do well include:

  • Senior Management understanding what’s really happening at LBi
  • Heading in the right direction as a company
  • Making sure our employees feel genuinely appreciated

Of course, we received some constructive criticism, as well, and have been working on some action items to improve in areas that we’re lacking.

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Is HR Ready for AI?

It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s the future. But are we ready for it? Or, more appropriately is AI ready for us?

In case you have never heard the term, AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. Essentially, AI refers to teachable computer software applications, or machine learning. The more you use it the smarter it gets. Apple’s Siri and those new smart speakers are good examples of AI’s practical application. Ask Siri “restaurants” and she not only assumes you are asking for restaurant suggestions, but it assumes you are interested mainly in places near your current location and possibly serving your favorite cuisines.

Chatbots are another good example. Have you ever initiated a chat session online only to realize well into the conversation that you are interacting with a computer “bot”, not a live person? “Hello, my name is Andy. How can I assist”? Andy is in fact…an Android.

IBM’s Watson computer is probably one of the most well-known and comprehensive examples of AI in a real world application. First used in the healthcare industry (not including its debut on the game show Jeopardy) and spreading rapidly into many other markets, Watson is a shining example of AI at its best. A lot of power for IBM’s nearly $2B investment.

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HR Help Desk’s Special Importance in Higher Education

HR Admins already know the importance of a robust help desk solution being central to developing a comprehensive shared services program. HR Help Desk manages all employee interactions with HR from onboarding through off-boarding. HR Help Desk uncovers patterns of issues that can impact overall employee performance and productivity, by identifying even subtle warning signs. Ongoing harassment complaints, manager disputes, departmental unrest, and other critical issues come to light in help desk reporting and analytics.

So what is different in the higher education industry? College and university campuses not only support hundreds and even thousands of employees, those employees interact closely with student populations in numbers that far exceed the employee base. Even a small university with just a few thousand employees can have 3-5 times as many students on campus. And those students on work-study are also technically employees of the institution.

Other businesses may engage closely with the public (i.e., the retail sector), but none can compare with higher education when it comes to potential personnel issues and complaints. Students frequently bond with their professors, and professors often develop closer relationships with special needs students or especially higher performing students. The same holds true with students and coaches. If those relationships sour, accusations can occur unexpectedly, and be quite serious in nature. HR must be prepared to intervene immediately to assess the situation and document all of the details and supporting materials in order to minimize the negative impact on the institution.

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Top Ten Reasons RFPs May Not Be Necessary

RFPs

Many companies require departments to issue RFPs for new business software systems, often when the cost estimate exceeds a certain dollar amount. Unless there are legal requirements that mandate an RFP process, consider these ten reasons why you should research alternative acquisition options.

  1. With today’s internet, gathering competitive information on products and vendors couldn’t be easier. Why bother with an RFP or RFI if the goal is information gathering?
  2. Many vendors, as a matter of policy, will not respond to RFPs, believing there is already a preferred vendor in place. Your well-intentioned RFP could inadvertently be excluding qualified vendors.
  3. RFPs tend to unnecessarily prolong the vendor selection. If you already have a preferred vendor or two, focusing on them will save time and generally produce a quality choice.
  4. Vendors want your business and will often lie or exaggerate their capabilities in RFP responses. Researching vendors and engaging them 1 on 1 will provide a more honest assessment. It’s easy to lie or stretch the truth in a written RFP response, but much harder to do so when asked face-to-face in a presentation.
  5. If the ultimate goal of an RFP is to gather competitive quotes from already screened vendors, consider a less formal RFQ. You will save time and generate the same desired result.
  6. RFP questions are often all over the map, intermingling true requirements, nice-to-haves, and even completely irrelevant questions. Nothing discourages prospective vendors like entire sections where they must respond in the negative. If you must issue an RFP, stick to your known requirements, and consider an RFI instead.
  7. If you are considering releasing an RFP for a new system, chances are you already have a qualified vendor in mind. Why muddy the waters with several new and often confusing proposals when you already have confidence in your first choice.
  8. Consider researching and selecting a short list of vendors and go straight for demos, circumventing the Q&A process. RFP decisions are almost always made after the demo. So head straight for the presentation/demo. You will save time, and likely make the same selection.
  9. In most business software categories, there are usually one or more “safe bets” — older reputable companies with large install bases. You have heard the phrase “No one was ever fired for choosing xxx”. There is a reason they have that level of reputation, so why not make that safe bet?
  10. If your department has a requirement to issue an RFP for purchase of systems above a certain threshold, consider finding a qualified solution that falls within that cap. Even though a cheaper system may be lacking in some functional areas, they may simply be “good enough”. You may just look like a hero by saving your company time and dollars.

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The Potential Risks of Multi-language Capability in HCM Business Solutions

multi-language in HCM solutions

More and more companies, both large and small, are building a multi-national presence. These organizations often have employees in several countries, speaking different languages. Even domestic businesses may have a multi-lingual workforce, commonly with workers speaking Spanish, French, and multiple Asian languages, for instance. In those companies, the ability for HR to effectively communicate with this diverse group is critical to success.

The most comprehensive HCM software solutions, such as LBi HR Help Desk, offer multi-language support, often via integration with Google Translate. HR staff and employees have 2-click access to over 90 different languages, which translates each page on the fly and remembers the user’s selection every time they log in.

That may work fine when translating drop-down menu items and static text, but what about freeform text boxes? What happens with common slang expressions or regional colloquialisms in the translation process? What happens if the employee’s or HR’s true meaning is literally lost in translation? Google Translate does a fine job with standard text words and phrases, but doesn’t always properly convert slang and similar idioms. Even the most comprehensive translation engines can get it wrong all too often.

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Rewards & Incentives

Rewards and incentives and employee engagement

Every employee loves incentives and rewards and they can be part of the tools that help keep engagement with your company. They can come in the form of cash bonuses, salary increases (and/or promotions) or prizes (tangible gifts). Generally, incentives are considered more like the carrot on the stick – achieve management’s stated goals and you receive the gift. Rewards on the other hand may be given ad hoc after an employee performs well above expectations, without any awareness of a potential recognition.

So which method can potentially help management achieve peak performance from their employees? In this blog we will only consider positive awards. Negative incentives (threats of termination or demotion, for example) will be saved for a future blog. And we aren’t talking about traditional holiday bonuses.

Let’s take a look at some of the various incentive options that could trigger an award, and the recommended award types:

Incentive/Reward Plan Award? Award Type Meet stated goals Not recommended unless the team as a whole is well below plan/quota N/A Exceed stated goals Yes – can be ongoing Raise or bonus One-off performance contest Yes – occasional Bonus or prize Top producer for a period Yes – ongoing Bonus Special activity – e.g., best new idea, charity work, etc. Yes – occasional Prize Recommends a new hire candidate Yes – when candidate is hired Bonus Unexpected performance above & beyond Yes – as one achieves this designation Bonus or prize Random lottery game Yes – occasional Bonus or prize

How did I select specific award types depending on the activity?:

Award Type Reasoning Raise Permanent, used for rewarding ongoing or longer-term success. Bonus Cash is king. When the achievement is one-time and high-value to the company. Everyone likes cash. Prize Fun, different, unexpected — when the employee’s special performance doesn’t necessarily impact company performance, and the award impacts general morale.

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Why Participate in the 21st Annual Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey

Sierra-Cedar Survey 2018

It’s that time of the year — the 21st annual Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey is upon us.  This is probably the most comprehensive survey for HR users, covering virtually all aspects of HR technology use, from the traditional integrated HR/ERP systems to the latest emerging technologies and innovations.

Some of the most important questions you may have are answered in the survey results, such as:

  • What are the latest trends in HR technology
  • Who are the leading vendors
    • Best of Breed vs. single-source integrated solution
  • What systems are my peers and competitors using
  • What systems are my peers and competitors considering in the next 12 months
  • What systems provide the greatest efficiencies and ROI
  • Where the most/least money is spent
  • By vertical market, how strategic is the HR organization perceived
  • Who is upgrading and who is not, and why
  • Data privacy & confidentiality issues
    • To cloud or not to cloud
  • How and where analytics is being used
  • Much more…

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Determining the True ROI When Investing in New HCM Systems

HCM ROI

Your decision to implement a new HRIS system may or may not factor-in a potential return on investment (ROI). Some systems are necessary regardless of cost (i.e., Payroll). Others (talent management, for instance) may require some level of financial justification.

Then there are some systems that clearly demonstrate a solid ROI. One obvious example is replacing a manual time and attendance collection process with an automated one. Automated T&A systems dramatically reduce time collection and processing hours (thereby reducing FTE’s), and reduce errors down to almost 0%. Not to mention stricter adherence to payroll policies.

Take the following example:

  • 500 employee company with an average $45,000 annual salary = $22,500,000 annual payroll
  • According to the American Payroll Association automating T&A can save a minimum of 1% of payroll = $225,000 annual savings
  • A typical SaaS-based T&A system (clocks, software, services, etc.) for a 500 employee firm will generally cost <$100,000 annually for a top-name system
  • That equates to a virtually instant ROI ($100K annual investment to save $225K annual payroll expense)

One caveat is the inclusion of hard dollar savings (i.e., less paper used) vs. soft dollar savings (i.e., FTE time). Why aren’t FTE savings a hard dollar benefit? Because payroll departments rarely cut headcounts, even if they can. More often than not, underutilized FTE resources are reallocated to other responsibilities.  But the overall benefits are still obvious.

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The Importance of Service Level Agreements in Your HR Help Desk

By | Compliance | Leave a comment
Service Level Agreements

Service Level Agreements (SLA) are the means for tracking and managing response times to resolve employee issues, measured against corporate commitment times (performance guarantees).

For instance, HR may guarantee a 24-hour (one day) response to a paycheck or harassment issue, but as many as 5 days to process a tuition reimbursement request. In many government regulated industries and unionized organizations, businesses may be required by law or contract to provide response guarantees, while other businesses may offer guarantees simply as a courtesy and for good will.

There is no better tool to manage SLAs than your HR Help Desk — assuming you have one. Administrators set up general (broad) case categories and specific subcategories within each category, then assign SLA periods to each subcategory. From there, the system takes over and automatically tracks SLA performance in detailed reports.

So far, so good. But, how robust is the Help Desk SLA configuration engine? Are your rules simple or complex? Do you measure SLA periods in hours or days? Do weekends count towards the SLA time? What about holidays or any other special days? Do they count? Are the rules different for different locations or employee classifications?

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Leasing HRIT Systems vs. a SaaS Model

leasing vs. saas

Not all monthly payment plans are created equal. For the moment, let’s not address deployment technology (shared vs. dedicated server, hosted vs. on-premises, single tenant vs. multi-tenant, etc.).

Let’s just address exactly how you pay for HR systems. At the highest level, you can write big checks up front or you can make monthly payments (sometimes a combination of both). Writing big checks generally means you are essentially buying a software license (actually you are buying a perpetual use license) and paying for associated professional services. You “own” the system.

In a traditional SaaS model, you may pay something up front for implementation, but subsequently you make monthly “rental” payments in return for having access to the system. Generally there is a minimum term of maybe a 24-36 month commitment.

Deciding how to pay for the new systems boils down to where the available funds are appropriated — either capital (buy) or operating (rent) funds. That is right; you are essentially buying or renting the system, though the contract language may not state either terminology.

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Benefits of HR Help Desk in Small Businesses

Utilizing an HR Help Desk in large organizations is unquestionably critical to the company’s success. A typical 5,000 employee business generates on average 30,000 HR cases per year, with issues ranging from simple PTO requests up to sexual harassment complaints and other legal-related complaints.

Case volumes in the tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands can be analyzed to find patterns of issues that HR must recognize and address before they hit critical mass and begin to negatively impact the business’s operations.

However, companies with, for instance, 500 employees may only create as few as 3,000 annual cases, or about 12 cases daily. From an administrative point of view, numbers that small can easily be tracked in Excel spreadsheets, without the need for a formal help desk solution.

So why consider an HR specific case management system for your small business? The answer lies in 3 acronyms – HIPAA, PHI, and PII. Small businesses are not immune from lawsuits filed due to breaches of private employee data. HIPAA violations can cause fines in excess of $1M per incident – regardless of company size. In today’s litigious society, workers are often likely to sue, even for small HR related infractions, if their contingency-paid lawyer thinks they have a case.

Whereas a larger organization may have the resources to fend off frivolous lawsuits, one bad case could put a small company out of business.

A well-designed HR Help Desk tracks all employee-to-HR interactions, and maintains that data in a secure and HIPAA-compliant system. From initial complaint through case resolution, necessary confidentiality is guaranteed. Unauthorized eyes will not have access to sensitive case data, documents, phone records, etc. …Read More

We Moved to a Bigger Space Thanks to You

LBi Software New Building

These past five years have been good. Good for LBi, and good for LBi’s clients. Our organization has seen a tremendous amount of success and unprecedented growth, and we’ve been honored to help our clients reach their full potential as we continue to grow.

Whether we’re helping our sports clients create better teams through improved draft picks, signings, and trades, or helping our HR clients with innovative HR case management and call-tracking workflow solutions, we have a long history of success with our clients across the board.

And it’s paid off.

In just five years, we launched LBi Dynasty, our custom sports analytics solution, and now we have clients in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Basketball Association. We’re incredibly proud to have clients in three of the four major sports leagues and 20 percent of the teams in MLB. And we’re proud of how our HR clients continue to grow through HR HelpDesk, as well.

These past five years have been incredible, and it’s all thanks to our clients and our amazing employees. It’s because of them that we can make this announcement.

We’re very excited to announce that we purchased a 25,235-square-foot building for $5.4 million in March of 2017. This three-story building is located at 999 Walt Whitman Road in Melville, New York, where we’ll occupy the first and second floors of the building. And it’s all thanks to our clients, our employees, and the past five years of unprecedented growth.

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Risks & Rewards of Applying for Internally Posted Job Opportunities

internal job posting

Many companies have a policy of posting available positions internally prior to seeking candidates in the open market. There are many advantages to this policy for both the organization and current employees. For employers, hiring from within can save time and money (i.e., recruiting fees). Additionally, the company already knows the potential internal candidate, lowering the risks of hiring a seemingly qualified candidate that was better at interviewing than actually performing the job at hand.

Recruiting from within the organization also shows employees that they have opportunities for growth within the company, helping to minimize the loss of quality workers that may feel unimportant or otherwise stagnant in their current role. Employees that are bored or generally not satisfied in their position are a clear flight risk.

It is common knowledge that training new hires is far more expensive and time consuming than training current employees.

So why not hire/promote from within? For one thing, it generally leaves a resource gap in the employee’s previous position. Stealing from Peter to feed Paul, as they say. For another, it can create animosity with the worker’s current co-workers, who may feel overlooked or forced to take on their colleague’s former responsibilities.

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When 1099 Workers Function as Full-time Employees

Many businesses occasionally (or even frequently) require the services of part-time and/or specialty contract workers. Workloads may be seasonable. New projects require talent that is not currently available on staff. The business cannot find qualified permanent employees. Whatever the reason, sometimes the company must hire 1099 workers.

1099 workers generally consume fewer HR resources because they are provided with fewer benefits, and they are paid without tax and other deductions. Generally they are not entitled to holiday pay, or any PTO pay. However, their hourly rate (or fixed base pay) is usually higher than their coworkers performing the same or similar tasks.

Here-in lies the potential problem. What if the 1099 “employee” actually works full-time and truly functions essentially as a full-time employee, particularly if the worker has been with the organization for many months, or even longer?

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Controlling Access to Confidential Cases in Your HR Case Management System

By | Data Security | Leave a comment
confidential data

IT help systems and customer relationship management (CRM) systems have much in common with HR case management solutions. However, what distinguishes the finest HR-specific systems from the rest is the ability to virtually (and often literally) hide confidential tickets from all but specific authorized users.

The level of confidentiality needed in generic CRM systems simply does not demand a true lockdown of sensitive cases required by HR. Without this capability, HR would be at risk of breaking HIPAA and other regulations.

Defining what is confidential, and the degree of confidentiality, should start with the employee’s new case entry. By defining general levels of confidentiality in case categories (e.g., “Disputes”) and subcategories (e.g., “sexual harassment issues”), the employee can select a specific topic and therefore indicate the need for privacy in the matter. Proper workflow setup ensures that not only will the case be routed strictly to the authorized specialist(s), but only that person or persons can even view the case. Unauthorized eyes won’t even know the case exists, whether in reports or by conducting a case search.

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How Your Business Can Help Employees Impacted By Hurricanes

By | HR Effectiveness | Leave a comment
hurricane

In the midst of Hurricane season, with Harvey, Irma, and soon Jose barreling down on southern US with record setting damage, how can impacted businesses help their employees “weather the storm”?

Keep in mind companies don’t have to be in the storm’s path in order to be negatively affected, financially or otherwise. Regardless of where your organization is physically located, if you conduct business with consumers or B-to-B, you may share in the pain of those actually situated in hurricane-prone areas.

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HR Help Desk – Reporting & Analytics

customizable reports

LBi HR Help Desk provides a wide variety of standard and customizable reports that HR can use to improve their operations, as well as delivering analytics that can impact the entire organization. Whether users run standard reports or extract specific data points to use in external analytics systems such as Excel, Crystal, Business Objects or others, LBi HR Help Desk serves up the data HR demands to gain the most benefit out of their Shared Services systems.

Take a look at the key data items HR Help Desk collects in just one standard report template:

  • Case Details:
    • Employee ID
    • Employee Division/Department
    • Open/close dates
    • Days open
    • Overdue status
    • Case priority
    • Tier 0,1,2 response (resolution via self-service, Agent assistance, or escalated)
    • Case Owner
    • Case Originator
    • Case Category/subcategory
    • Issue & resolution text
    • Case created via (email, phone, portal, etc.)
    • Employee’s preferred response mechanism (phone, email, etc.)

From this single basic report template, users can extract data to create very powerful analytics, such as:

  • Case owner overdue performance comparison
  • Employees making excessive calls to HR, and the reasons for the calls, by department
  • Overdue status by case category/subcategory (i.e. comparing 401K issue status to Payroll issues)
  • Evaluating the self-service knowledge base effectiveness
  • Cases requiring the most escalation
  • Detailed Case load by date range (i.e., peak periods for specific case types, for planning/resource scheduling purposes)
  • Much more

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The Role of HR in Changes in Executive Management

executive management conflict

The recent internal turbulence at the White House has America (and the world) anxiously awaiting the next public airing of their dirty laundry; unless of course it’s all fake news. Just as in any new presidential administration, virtually any business that is adapting to a change in leadership may experience difficulties between managers and executives.  Change in corporations can come in the form of a new CEO or an acquisition/merger or to a lesser extent, a division head.

New management styles and philosophical differences are just a few of the factors impacting leadership; not to mention political maneuvering for a more favored status with the boss. Until the team is settled in, the game of musical chairs will be the norm. Infighting may unfortunately become the status quo.

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Should Performance Reviews Include Information from Social Media?

social media

In other words, is it acceptable to judge an employee’s performance on activities that occur outside of the office, even if those activities include disparaging the employer? Though laws and policies are different in different states and jurisdictions, the question is still valid.

It may seem obvious that employees (and really everyone) should not compromise themselves in any way online, but the facts show otherwise. People simply do dumb things all the time and post them for all to see. In reality, anything posted online in a publicly accessible page could be considered fair game to anyone else who decides to use that information freely.

What if the employee is posting a job search on LinkedIn? Is it reasonable that the employer’s view of the employee be impacted one way or another? Management may decide to cajole the employee with a positive review (and associated bonus). Or they may prefer to cut the cord and let the employee go prior to him/her actually resigning. In employment-at-will states, employers don’t even have to give a reason for dismissal, as long as the termination is not violating other laws such as discrimination.

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Is Cross-Training Employees Good for Business?

cross-training

The great majority of new employees are hired for a specific role within the organization. But in many cases new hires (and tenured workers) may be exposed to other functions they were not initially called on to perform. For instance, a payroll clerk may be called upon to handle some related employee benefits tasks. Or a shop floor worker, who has been trained on a particular discrete machining job, may be needed to temporarily substitute for another, absent employee.

Certainly employees, who are multi-faceted and can readily handle new challenges, are a tremendous asset to their employer – and to their own personal career aspirations. However, some employees may relish new responsibilities while others don’t.

Whether a company provides formal, structured training, or encourages learn-as-you-go on-the-job training, unquestionably employee training and education is good for business. But what happens when employees are pulled out of their comfort zone to handle unfamiliar duties? Unfortunately this occurs in companies large and small. “Fire drills” arise at unexpected times (hence the moniker “fire drill”). Unless a company has the ability to hire short-term temps to fill in the resource gaps, the situation quickly becomes “all hands on deck”.

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Should Companies Solicit Employee Donations to Company-Sponsored Charities?

charities

Many companies support local and national not-for-profit charities and organizations. Often the relationship begins with a personal connection between a company executive or employee who benefited in some way from the charities services. Sometimes the giving starts as a company-funded donation in thanks for the organizations’ programs, and then leads to more of an annual or periodic giving campaign.

At some point, the company may build a closer association with the charity through a formal sponsorship, possibly in exchange for a banner ad or similar advertisement at charity events, organization’s website, etc.

Charitable giving is certainly a noble cause, and a necessity for many charities’ survival. For donor companies, they are giving back to the community in which they conduct business – a win-win for all.

Eventually, as the company-charity relationship grows, companies frequently begin to reach out to their workforce for contributions. Donations may be made through payroll deductions, collection jars, direct face-to-face requests, and other means of solicitation. There may even be direct or at least subliminal pressure applied to induce employees to donate.

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Using HR Help Desk Statistics to Determine HR Staff Requirements

hr analytics for staffing

The following post first appeared in 2015. 

Much has been written about finding the optimum ratio of HR staff to employee size. A SHRM Human Capital Benchmarking Study has published a suggested ratio based purely on employee count:

The formula to calculate the ratio would be:

(HR Staff Count / Employee Count) x 100

For instance, a 1500 employee company with 10 HR personnel would have a ratio of 0.67, somewhat below the supposed target staff according to the table above (10/1500 * 100 = .67). In theory, based on the chart, 12 HR personnel would be optimal to manage 1500 employees.

SHRM suggests that not all HR staff should be factored into the count. Generally it is recommended to only include HR professionals who work as generalists, and those in areas such as benefits, compensation, labor relations and organizational effectiveness. They suggest that payroll and other specialized roles should not be included in the count.

Obviously this is an imperfect method and is loaded with multiple potential downsides. It does not take into consideration factors such as your industry, business specific circumstances, and the skill/experience of each individual HR worker. It also opens up the door to possible unsubstantiated staff cuts if your ratio is on the high side.

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Securing Confidential Data in Your HR Help Desk

HR Help Desk systems are not payroll systems, though discussion of confidential payroll information may likely be collected during the course of managing an employee ticket request. The same holds true with healthcare data, personal credit data, and more. Certainly your HR Help Desk is not a financial system, benefit provider system, or any other system that is designed to collect and manage discreet types of personal information.

In some ways, the HR Help Desk system is more akin to email – with one key differentiator – data security. Your unsecure corporate email system collects and stores virtually any and all types of data, much of it potentially highly confidential in nature. HR Help Desks can and do collect that same information. The danger with email is that emails can easily be forwarded and/or copied to unauthorized eyes.

There is literally no feature in email systems designed to prevent confidential information from being sent to anyone. If you know their address, you can send anything to anyone without restrictions. Corporate policies may be in place to control email flow, but that is no guarantee that violations will not occur, whether inadvertently or intentionally.

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The Evolution of Enterprise Software Selection

enterprise software selection

Back in the 80’s, when PC DOS-based (later Windows) Enterprise software sales began to increase, individual departments started to exert some control over the selection of applications. Previously, software decisions were largely left to IT and finance, with some level of input by end users and departmental stake holders.

Prior to the advent of the PC, Enterprise software was primarily mainframe based, and therefore very expensive to operate and maintain. Companies typically supported only 1 computer platform, so decision #1 was to find software that ran in that environment. The PC changed all that. In the early days micro-computer software was initially written for a single PC and user, as networking of PC’s was in its infancy (remember Novell Netware?). Software was also primarily meant for a single-function – such as for bookkeeping, shop-floor control or time tracking.

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For Grievance and Conflict Resolution, HR Case Management Software Can Be a Valuable Tool

conflict resolution

The following post first appeared in 2014. 

“A good manager doesn’t try to eliminate conflict,” says Robert Townsend, author of the bestseller Up the Organization, and co-author of Reinventing Leadership. “He tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people.”

As an HR professional in an enterprise organization, you have a choice in how your team — and, therefore, your entire organization — handles all of the conflicts that arise from employee complaints, grievances, and concerns.

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Is Telecommuting Right For You and Your Employees?

A few weeks ago I wrote an article on the new trend towards open office environments – no walls, no cubicles, and no privacy. The argument towards better collaboration and team spirit may or may not justify this almost draconian office design concept, depending on your point of view. Certainly any drastic change in your office design is going to garner at least mixed reviews and varying levels of acceptance.

In that last blog I suggested as an alternative offering employees the option of telecommuting if their functional role would lend itself to working remotely. Unfortunately not all jobs can be performed from home, but many can, at least occasionally.

So let’s explore the positives and negatives of telecommuting. First, can you check all of these eligibility boxes?:

  • Your work substantially is conducted on the phone and/or computer
  • Your work is generally conducted outside of the office anyway (i.e., sales or service)
  • Home computer work does not violate company security policies
  • Face to face meetings with managers and coworkers are infrequent or can be scheduled when you are in the office
  • You don’t require access to physical documents (file drawer stuff)
  • Management does not tend to micro-manage staff

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Meet Your New HR Superstar

HR Helpdesk

Would you hire a highly skilled and experienced prime HR candidate for the price of an entry level clerk?  What if your new employee is guaranteed to:

  • Save the organization valuable time and dollars
  • Resolve HR cases faster
  • Free up other HR resources for more strategic work
  • Guarantee consistent adherence to company policies/procedures
  • Increase employee satisfaction
  • Electronically archive and manage all HR case history
  • Assure adherence to government regulations
  • Automatically generate and distribute valuable analytical reports
  • Track patterns of issues & resolve them before they fester

Additionally, what if your new hire will:

  • Work 24/7/365
  • Never take a day off
  • Never complain about anything
  • Require no paid benefits
  • Will do everything you ask (within the job description)
  • Never make a mistake
  • Do all of this – guaranteed

Interested?  Meet LBi HR HelpDesk 6.0, your new superstar. LBi HR HelpDesk is your loyal and dedicated partner, dedicated to helping you build and maintain a successful HR Shared Services operation.

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Are Open Office Environments Conducive to Greater Collaboration & Productivity?

Or not? There is a current trend in designing new office spaces around a wide open concept, in extreme cases providing seats at long contiguous tables in lieu of individual desks. The days of semi-private cubicles may be numbered. Partitions of any type are becoming scarce in many companies, even for managers and some executives.

In complete contrast, back in the 1980’s when Microsoft moved its corporate headquarters to a brand new campus in Redmond Washington, virtually every employee was provided with a private office — 4 real walls and a door (and a window for the lucky ones). And how did that work out for Microsoft? That’s in the history books.

Now companies like Facebook and others are literally breaking down the physical barriers and counting on greater employee engagement within the organization. In fact, Facebook’s headquarters is the largest open office environment in the world (see picture).

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How to Capitalize on Your HR Help Desk Data

hr helpdesk dashboard

You just invested in a shiny new HR Help Desk solution. You integrated it with your HRIS systems. HR and employees embraced the new tool. The new reports are awesome. Management now has a handle on the day-to-day workload. Problem areas are being identified and corrected. Love the new system.

Is that all there is? Isn’t that enough to justify the investment? Yes, but… let’s take it to the next level with analytics. Reports merely summarize the data; the Who, What, When and Where. Are you ready for the Why and How? Hopefully so. However, as they say – garbage in garbage out. Without the right data (and complete data) faulty analytics could send HR down the wrong mid and long term path.

The finest HR Help Desk systems are very good at collecting the right data points which HR can use to track trends, expose pain points, HR’s performance impact on the entire organization, and more. The Help Desk is designed to capture the right data, but it is up to each HR user to collect all of the data.

First and foremost, every contact between HR and employees must be captured as a case.  Most HR Help Desk systems offer a chat feature, and most of those allow a chat session to close without creating and saving as a new ticket. LBi HR Help Desk is designed such that a case must be opened first before initiating a chat dialog (we call it Employee Interactions). This feature forces the chat dialog to be saved to a permanent case record.

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Surveying Your Workforce

Employee Survey

Having an HR Help Desk is great for answering employee questions, resolving issues, and running analytics on what is actually happening in the workforce. But frankly, when you think about it, all of these benefits are more reactive than proactive.

HR Help Desk captures in real time the good, the bad, and the ugly in the day-to-day work life of the company’s employees. The question becomes then, how can I anticipate issues before they occur? As we have discussed in previous posts, analytics are a tremendous help but they are still based on past (albeit very recent) actions.

The answer lies in survey tools. There are many very good web-based survey apps, but products such as LBi HR Help Desk already include one. LBi’s HR Help Desk includes a free survey utility that provides admins with the capability to create custom surveys and associated reporting on the collected data. Admins can create and modify surveys at any time. New surveys can be posted then removed and replaced after reports are run, or data is extracted for use in analytic engines.

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Harnessing Big Data with HR Technology

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
big data

The prominence of big data’s role in business has been growing steadily over the last few years. Today, it has reached every area of business, creating even a new name for data-driven companies — the “quantified organization.”

And HR has been no exception. In fact, the concept of people data has created a huge buzz, expanding ideas of what HR thought was possible with solving issues such as employee engagement, recruitment, retention, and more. But with all the scraping and storing of scores and scores of data, companies have run into a new conundrum — putting that data into action.

However, 2016 has seen new hope for the application of big data in HR. Deloitte University Press recently reported that the percentage of companies that feel ready or somewhat ready to use this data in people analytics jumped from 24 percent to 32 percent this year — one-third greater than last year.

Why all the hype? Sierra-Cedar reported in its “2014–2015 HR Systems Survey Results” that organizations with an environment of data-driven decisions have a 79 percent higher return on equity than non-quantified organizations. So it’s no wonder that businesses are beginning to look for the tools and methods that will best put their invaluable stores of data to work.

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Improving the User Experience: Happier Employees, Better HR

HR user experience

We’ve been talking a lot about our LBi HR HelpDesk 6.0 update, and for good reason. It’s the most powerful HR case management solution out there, and its many improvements were designed to make your life easier.

Because that’s the whole point of an automated HR case management solution, right? To streamline the process and mitigate the hassle, freeing you to focus on talent management and your employees to focus on their work. Unfortunately, so many help desk software solutions complicate the process and exacerbate the headache. They employ inefficient design and interfaces that do anything but lighten your workload. Even with our HR case manager, we saw room for improvement, and so we created LBi HR HelpDesk 6.0.

As we listened to feedback from our clients, we realized that one of our main improvements would be user experience and accessibility — for both HR and employees. Why? Every time someone logs on to LBi HR HelpDesk, we want them to be able to find exactly what they’re looking for quickly. The interface and design should be user-friendly, enabling users to complete tasks efficiently and come away from the whole experience with a general sense of enjoyment and ease. Joy and HR reporting? Yes, it’s possible.

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To Cloud or Not to Cloud (Your HR Help Desk)

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
Cloud Computing and Saas

As you are evaluating new HR Help Desk solutions (or really any business software system), one primary consideration is always the software and hardware platform.  SaaS? Hosted? In-house? “Which is better for my business”?

The choices are actually more varied than you might expect. Some vendors may offer only one option, while others such as LBi offer many choices.

As I have stated in previous blog posts, your system selection process should first evaluate if the system functionality substantially meets your requirements, and the vendor has a proven record of high quality support. Once that has been determined, then platform and architecture should be next in line for consideration. Somewhere in there is price — and we will get to that shortly.

Let’s walk through the most common deployment options, and their perceived pros and cons: …Read More

Mixing Business and Politics

employee engagement - politics and biz

Many would say never, ever.  What about the employee engagement factor?  Much has been written about the benefits of employee engagement to the organization. It is widely accepted that increased communication between employees and management improves overall performance. Whether the communications involve grievances, general working environment, work-life balance, or general topics, getting employees active and involved with the business is proven to benefit all.

Let’s face the facts; business is most certainly going to be impacted one way or another by the upcoming presidential election. Never has the country been so divided in terms of the direction the US will take over the next 4+ years.

So what could be more stimulating in the workplace these days than a lively discussion of politics? Not a drop-down dragged-out battle between hardline ideologues, but rather a civil (if that is at all possible) conversation and debate about the current and future state of our country. To paraphrase a common statement, as the country goes, so goes the business.

Everything from health insurance reform to global trade to taxes to immigration impacts virtually every business in one way or another. And considering the vast differences in policy between the major presidential candidates, now more than ever it is important for the workforce to come together and weigh the potential impact on the business, and by extension our own personal lives.

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Increase the Security of Your Company Data with LBi HR HelpDesk 6.0

HR HelpDesk and Data Security

We created the new LBi HR HelpDesk 6.0 based on insightful feedback we received via polls and interviews with our users. One of the things we heard the most? A need for tighter security.

If data security is important to any department, it’s mission critical for HR. Because HR produces and gathers a high volume of sensitive information about your employees and company, the risk of that information being leaked or hacked is a real concern. In a world of digital communication and computerized or cloud-based information storage, all of your company’s conversations, documents, and data regarding benefits, payroll, complaints, hiring processes, and more can be vulnerable to exposure. When looking at an automated case management system for HR, it’s crucial that you’re able to have absolute confidence in your system.

Our users saw room for improvement to the security of our HR case manager and call-tracking workflow solution, and we listened. With LBi HR HelpDesk 6.0, we’re proud to provide you with not only a more user-friendly and functional update, but the most secure version of LBi HR HelpDesk yet. …Read More

When RFP Questions Cross the Line of Reasonability

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
RFP

In my business, responding to RFIs, RFQs and RFPs are a part of my daily work life. If you want to win the business, you must accept these requests as a mandatory function during the sales cycle.

20 years ago, questionnaires focused almost entirely on the business application up for bid; features, functions, bells, whistles, and the like. Technology questions primarily centered around the technology platform – Windows, Solaris, SQL Server, Oracle, web vs. client-server, etc.

In today’s cyber security threat world, IT has essentially commandeered the process, and now RFPs are often heavily weighted on security questions. Frankly, many recent RFPs that have crossed my desk barely touch on the relevant and in-demand application features, in favor of addressing IT Security issues. In a few cases, it has been hard to find the actual application questions buried in one of many Excel tabs (worksheets).

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How Personal Should Employees Get with Personnel?

By | Compliance | Leave a comment
personal privacy for personnel

Employees often forget that HR works for the company, not them. HR has an obligation to keep personal employee information confidential, but there are limits, often not clearly spelled out in employee handbooks and other HR policy documents.

If an employee has personal “issues”, i.e., serious illness, legal problems, divorce, moving out of town, etc., that may potentially impact their performance at work, then HR can and will inform management of the problem. They have every right to know if employee performance may suffer due to personal circumstances.

HIPAA regulations are clearly written regarding release or sharing of an individual’s health information. But HIPAA does not cover 100% of situations where there is sharing of such material. For instance, one HIPAA provision states:

“The Privacy Rule excludes from protected health information employment records that a covered entity maintains in its capacity as an employer…”

One could read into this that anything you share with HR can go into your employee record, and therefore be exempt from HIPAA compliance.

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How to protect your data from Hackers, Phishing…

I have written several blogs on HR system security and confidentiality, and how to secure your systems against intruders. But what are some of the most common methods that hackers use to actually breach your applications? The more you know about your “enemy” the better you will be prepared to guard against their attacks.

Password Breaches

Probably the most common breach involves hackers’ access to valid user names and passwords.  Often they can discern user-name conventions such as first letter of first name plus last name, for instance “bsmith” or “mjones”. Then they start running through common passwords (usually using software to rapid-fire login attempts) until one really works.

Often, legitimate users will be careless with their password, using the same password for every application log-in, or even leaving the password written on paper in their desk. It would be nice to trust your coworkers, but unfortunately seemingly good people can do bad things.

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The 3 R’s of Managing Workplace Stress

Stress or agitation can dampen an employee’s productivity and emotional well-being in the workplace. Learning the 3 R’s — recognition, reduction and rejuvenation — is essential to lowering stress levels.

Recognize

Workplace stress comes in many shapes and forms, and in order to beat it, you have to know what it is and how it affects the mind and body. According the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, three-fourths of employees think that people face more workplace stress than one generation ago.

Today’s workers encounter situations that trigger physical, psychological and behavioral symptoms. Some physical symptoms to watch for include headaches, fatigue, sleeping problems and gastrointestinal upsets. Next, it is important to recognize psychological symptoms, such as depression, anxiety and discouragement, and to notice changes in behavior that range from aggression to disinterest.

Having strong organizational networks to alleviate stress levels in the workplace is a major step in the right direction. Employers who show support for their people make it easier to recognize the pitfalls of stress. …Read More

Should You Ignore Questionable Social Media Posts from Job Applicants and Employees?

Over the past decade, employer reviews of social media accounts rose by around 500 percent, according to a CareerBuilder survey. Employers report using social media to investigate potential new hires and to communicate with — and check up on — existing employees. While the practice of involving social media in the employer/employee relationship is still being debated, if you do decide to review social media, you might not want to take every post into account.

Social Media Isn’t a Complete Picture

Brands today know that social media isn’t a complete picture of any person or company. A single joke made in poor taste or a photo of a night partying doesn’t actually tell you much about a person’s skills, work ethic or overall personality. Instead of reacting to single pieces of content, look for a pattern or trend that would be concerning for your workplace. If you refuse to hire anyone who has at least one questionable social media post, you’ll have a hard time finding any candidates.

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How to Mentor New Hires

A mentorship is an excellent way to help a new employee learn the basics of your company and its culture. No matter what size your corporation, start by introducing each employee to their mentor at orientation. The employee can then pose questions to the mentor during and after the onboarding process. After the onboarding process is complete, you may be interested in having the mentee shadow, regularly talk with, or be formally trained by the mentor.

The Role of Mentorships in Small and Large Companies

In small companies, mentorships bring together experienced employees and new, often younger employees. The relationship builds the bond between people of different generations and strengthens the connections within the company. It also allows operations to proceed more smoothly. In large companies, mentorships train new individuals who would otherwise get lost in the crowd. The mentor becomes the “go-to” person for the new employee, who might not know how to approach higher-ups and may not understand complex hierarchies. In both small and large companies, the mentor acts as a resource for the new employee. The mentor remains a stable, helpful guide who anchors them in place and makes them feel at home.

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Adding Unconventional But Practical Client-Requested Features

Talking to customers (and prospects) about the software products and services you provide is extremely important to ensure their ongoing satisfaction and exceeding of expectations. Whether you have a formal process such as user groups, online survey forms, or just picking up the phone to gain feedback, customer input is critical to your business growth.

Your clients will tell you what they like, what they don’t like, and what they would like to see in future software releases. With this input, your business solutions will stay ahead of the curve competitively.

Although it is impractical to accept every new feature suggestion, those that fit within your business strategy, and have gained some consensus from multiple clients, will be destined for new versions.

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Words Matter

As the world tries to become more and more politically correct (PC culture), it is time to ponder the evolution of some key changes in terminologies in the English lexicon. During World War I, soldiers who experienced the stress of combat were “shell shocked”.  By WWII the expression had evolved into “battle fatigue”. In recent years the preferred designation became “Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome”, and has settled currently on “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder”, or simply PTSD. After all, a disorder sounds less grim than a syndrome, right, even though they are essentially interchangeable? But nuance matters in language.

However, these changes reflected more about what was actually happening to soldiers and less about political correctness. After all, who wouldn’t be shocked by bombs going off all around us? Thankfully this is one experience most of us will never have. But to honor the bravery of men and women in battle, “battle fatigue” better reflected what was actually happening physically. They faced danger up until the point of ultimate fatigue.

By the Vietnam War, psychologists further understood that stress was a more fitting diagnosis, referred to now as a post-traumatic syndrome or disorder.

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The 3 Things Millennials Secretly Want from You (Hint: It’s Not Higher Pay)

What Millennials Want

Labor demographics are changing rapidly, and as a generation, Millennials now make up the largest percentage of the workforce. As a result, this group has a strong influence on management practices. Smart employers are adapting to new ways of doing business in order to stay competitive. Those that choose to stick with traditional methods of attracting and retaining workers are quickly becoming obsolete, because they haven’t recognized that Millennials want much more than a simple raise in pay.

Flexibility: Work/Life Balance Isn’t Enough

To attract Millennials looking for their next job, it’s not enough to tout “work/life balance.” With today’s technology, most employees have accepted that they are always available by phone and email. Millennials are comfortable with a BYOD (bring your own device) culture, and they prefer video chat, instant messaging and texting to in-person communication.

Instead of work/life balance, Millennials want assurance that they will have flexibility in where, when and how they get their work done. Some are calling this “work/life blend,” in which employees are free to take a few hours for a child’s soccer game in the middle of the afternoon, with the understanding that they will catch up after the kids are in bed.

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Sierra-Cedar 2016-17 HR Systems Survey

HR Systems Survey

Is your HR organization performing at peak efficiency levels? Do you understand how your peers are managing their firms; companies with the same issues and challenges you face? They can only expose new and potentially productive ideas.

How can you broaden your knowledge of industry trends and cutting edge business tools? The answer is in the HR industry’s most comprehensive annual survey, the Sierra–Cedar 2016–2017 HR Systems Survey, 19th Annual Edition.

In partnership with Sierra-Cedar, LBi Software invites you to participate. The survey is now available at www.Sierra-Cedar.com/hrssv45 until the deadline on July 1, 2016. All responses are confidential and only used in aggregate results.

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Five Ways Data Analytics Can Help Your Business Succeed

data analytics

As a company grows, it can become increasingly important to ensure that the daily running of the business is as simplified as possible. However, even in today’s modern technological times, the vast majority of companies are still using outdated methods for managing employees. As human resources departments face increasingly complex business changes, the use of data analytics can make a significant difference in a company’s employee quality, as well as the overhead spent on hiring, training and even retaining good workers.

Simplify Hiring

In the past, many companies made the majority of their hiring decisions based on a couple of basic things. First, HR professionals reviewed stacks of resumes, setting aside the few that stood out among the rest. Then, they scheduled an interview with each potential new hire. Whether the interview process consisted of one or multiple face-to-face interviews, the hiring manager was still faced with a huge amount of responsibility in choosing the best candidate for each position almost solely based on their own personal instincts. Data analytics, however, enables the HR department of a company to make decisions based on specific data rather than the candidate’s appearance or personality traits.

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How Increased Employee Retention Enhances Your Bottom Line

employee retention

Most businesses grossly underestimate the true cost of turnover, and they pay the price when they allow strategic engagement and retention planning to fall by the wayside. Such initiatives are more than just good public relations. They create a culture in which employees stay with the company longer, are more productive at work and provide the priceless word-of-mouth and social media advertising that creates a high-quality employer brand.

Who Are Today’s Job Seekers and Why Are They Jumping Ship?

In a survey of more than 5,000 job seekers and 2,000 hiring managers, CareerBuilder’s 2015 Candidate Behavior Study made a startling discovery. Three out of four employees are open to or actively seeking a new position. While not all are sending out resumes during their time away from work, this figure represents the full extent of the population in danger of being wooed away by friendly recruiters looking for top talent through social media.

The study explored the impetus behind employees’ increasing willingness to take new positions. While the reasons vary from frustration with limited development opportunities to dissatisfaction with compensation and benefits, the underlying theme is low engagement. Employers are simply not offering the type of work environment and company culture that inspires staff members to stay.

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Confidentiality is Critical for your HR Help Desk

The single most critical difference between LBi HR Help Desk and more generic IT help desk systems is the concept of confidentiality. Any help desk solution can automatically route tickets to a specific individual or group based on company workflow rules. Generic systems may also be able to prevent unauthorized eyes from opening and editing particular cases.

LBi HR Help Desk goes a step further and literally hides any confidential cases from the view of unauthorized users. In other words, confidential cases will not show up on any user’s search results, filtered lists or reports unless they are assigned the case (or are the case owner’s manager). It is like the case doesn’t even exist to unassigned users.

In LBi’s hosted environment, even IT doesn’t have access to the entire database (unless explicitly approved by HR).

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The Upside to Workplace Conflict and How to Deal with it Successfully

By | Strategic HR | Leave a comment

The list of possible causes for workplace conflict is long enough to seem insurmountable, and a company completely free of inter-staff strife is rare. Any situation requiring the collective involvement of individuals with unique perspectives, strengths and weaknesses will result in priority differences that can lead to clashes. Rather than hope for the best to avoid conflict, try to face it instead by working through it and celebrating conflict’s silver lining.

The Upsides to Workplace Conflict
Disagreements in the workplace aren’t always the result of personalities that don’t mesh. Conflict can sometimes arise from two equally valid but incompatible approaches to work completion. In this situation, what you have is not a conflict but an opportunity to create a backup strategy. When a current procedure isn’t as effective as anticipated, then procedural conflict can jump-start conversations that result in new ideas and solutions.

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How Big Data is Transforming Human Resources

Datafication How Big Data is Transforming Human Resources

Advances in technology have transformed the role of human resources (HR) professionals over the past 50 years. Today’s HR specialists are expected to take on strategic planning that adds value to the company’s bottom line — a big change from HR’s early days of basic data entry.

In the very near future, the role of HR will shift again. While strategic planning will remain at the forefront of HR responsibilities, rapid changes in technology are revolutionizing the way strategic decisions are made.

Linking Data Analysis to Strategic Planning

In a global survey of C-level executives, researchers at KPMG determined 82 percent of organizations plan to increase their use of data analysis to make human-capital-related strategic decisions over the next two or three years. Evidence-based HR will be standard practice, and HR professionals without the skills needed to analyze big data and apply findings to strategic planning will find themselves left behind.

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HR – To Debate or Arbitrate

In this season of presidential debates, one thing is not debatable: the undeniable importance and value of your workforce to the organization’s success. The political players debate each other, they debate the other party, and occasionally (through calculated flip-flopping) they actually debate themselves. Not to mention the debater’s best friend — spin doctoring. In the end, sometimes it appears their primary interest is in themselves (getting elected), and less about “We the People”, their constituents.

Politicians (as we are learning from all-to-many debates) have the luxury on the debate stage to pronounce unambiguously that their “new and innovative policies” are beneficial to the full electorate. After all, as several candidates have pointed out, some candidates have actually never run anything, though they are competing for the most important leadership role on the planet.

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The Benefits of Custom Software Development

Packaged (off-the-shelf) software vs. a custom software solution — that is the question. Actually it’s not that simple a question anymore. Today there are many hybrid software alternatives, which start with a packaged solution that can be quickly modified to meet the customer’s exacting business requirements.

In the “old days” — remember PC DOS and mainframes — most business software was custom built from scratch due to the lack of availability of flexible industry-specific packaged systems. Yes there were some standard accounting systems, manufacturing systems, HR systems, etc., but in large part business software (particularly for large organizations) was written directly to customer requirements. Software was written in everything from low level machine code (0’s and 1’s), Assembly language, COBOL, BASIC and other “higher” languages. Many companies were rightfully wary of custom solutions due to the difficulty of debugging and supporting these systems, but often had no choice.

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How to Engage Your Remote Workforce

remote workforce

Many of today’s businesses have multiple sites around the country and around the world, and telecommuting employees are less uncommon than before. Technology designed to bring employees together despite their geography isn’t new; however, the growing trend towards employing remote staff members has organizations looking at this technology in a new way. Tools that were once too costly to share with employees working from home offices are now more affordable, making it easier to connect remote workers and increase their engagement, regardless of physical location. Employers have more options now than ever to bring their virtual workers closer to the business.

Creating Personal and Professional Relationships
One of the primary drivers of employee engagement is the personal and professional relationships between team members. Frequent communication and time spent face-to-face builds trust, making teams far more effective. However, remote employees find developing these relationships challenging, as their primary method of communication is through email and instant message. In fact, one study determined that a full 81 percent of virtual employees consider development of rapport and trust within a virtual team the number one work related concern.

Fortunately, travel is no longer required for face-to-face meetings. Video conferencing technology is now so economical that businesses can offer the option to all remote employees without incurring significant expenses. Staff members find they can fully participate in relationship building with colleagues through daily use of video conferencing applications, and they are comfortable with the technology because it is now an everyday form of communication between family and friends.

Adding a Personal Touch
Increased use of inexpensive video conferencing, instant messaging and other forms of communication are proven relationship builders, but they can’t entirely replace the personal touch. Consider organizing regular in-person meetings, first when the team is formed, and then at least once a year. Spending several days together gives virtual colleagues an opportunity to develop solid personal relationships through informal interactions, which facilitates effective collaboration through virtual channels later. …Read More

The Risks and Rewards of Utilizing Offshore Technology Services

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment

The availability, skillset, and quality of Information Technology (IT) resources varies greatly from organization to organization. Regardless of company size, IT resources may be readily accessible when needed, or not. And frequently not. Whether HR has a large application development project to manage or merely needs a special one-off data analysis report, more often than not the IT backlog will dictate the timing of the project delivery date. And the nature of IT’s skills will determine the quality of work.

For more business and mission critical projects that simply cannot be delayed, HR must turn to outside vendors, which is generally the best decision anyway. Service providers that specialize in HR usually can deliver a more reliable, robust, scalable, and extensible solution, because that is their specific area of expertise. Not to mention on-time and on-budget delivery is now governed by a contract and not internal priorities. This becomes a cost savings as well when you add in the advantages of SaaS and cloud hosting.

After all, if your home air conditioning system breaks down, most people would call an HVAC technician over a handyman, right? You might pay a little more but the service will invariably be superior.

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Implementing Preventative Measures to Minimize Data Breaches

By | Data Security | Leave a comment

Much has been said (here and in many other articles) about cyber security risks, and the measures LBi Software and other companies are taking to prevent system data breaches. We talk about data encryption at rest, filed level encryption, VPN tunnels, malware/virus protection, intrusion detection services, two factor authentication, secure coding principles and more, but breaches can still happen.

More focus is needed on the most common reasons for breaches and what you, the client, can do to minimize them. Let’s face it; the chances of a hacker cracking the data encryption code that most databases use is roughly equivalent to winning the Powerball lottery. It could happen – after all we saw three lucky winners last week (though it took billions of tickets sold since the last jackpot winner) – but it just isn’t going to happen that way. That is why the Federal Government is currently pressing technology companies to assist in cracking encryption codes used by the bad guys in their communications with other bad guys. Even the Fed cannot crack those codes alone.

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To Purge or Not to Purge (HR Help Desk Data)

By | Compliance | Leave a comment
Purge data

One of the most frequent questions from LBi’s HR Help Desk clients is when to purge and archive older help desk records. Our answer is simple and straight forward — never. Each employee’s complete case history reveals a lot about that employee’s disposition in the company. Changes in productivity, temperament, company loyalty, and more can occur over periods ranging from weeks to months to years. LBi HR Help Desk captures that valuable information. Having that data live and available for analysis presents a tremendous benefit to HR management.

Since individual case records are very small in size (less than 10K plus attachments, if any), the help desk database for a 10,000 employee organization might not even break 3-5 Gigs after a full 5 years in production. Considering the standard LBi hosting configuration includes arrays of 300 Gig drives (and unlimited in the Cloud), that same company could easily store well in excess of 20+ years live data, with no loss of performance.

Often, our prospective clients express concern about data privacy, suggesting that aged records (let’s say case records >5 years old) are better (read safer and more secure) archived outside of the live system, and accessible strictly to limited users. LBi HR Help Desk can accommodate that request, but we ask why. Our hosted systems provide the highest level of data security possible, with layer after layer of security designed to manage the most confidential data. We are HIPAA and SSAE16 Type II certified, Safe Harbor certified, including multiple additional certifications and industry compliances. And user defined security levels provide our clients with the ability to restrict access to data based on your policies and rules.

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The Client / Vendor Business Relationship

Currently I am reading Things That Matter, by conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer. It is a compilation of articles the author has published over the last few decades covering a wide variety of subjects of greatest importance to him, and in his humble opinion, topics that also impact the general public.

The topics range from the personal to the political to the existential. Subjects range from his view of Winston Churchill as the single most important person to humanity in the last 100 years, to how and why the American Kennel Club is attempting (albeit inadvertently) to dumb down the most intelligent of canines, the Border Collie.

This book got me thinking — what are the things that matter most to me? I will save that for my first book. However, I would like to opine on a particular subject near and dear to my heart — and hopefully yours — things that matter in vendor/client relationships. Even if you are not a business person, you cannot avoid daily vendor/client relationships. Think about the coffee you just bought at Starbucks or the gas station attendant that filled up your car.

Some relationships are one-time events but many are not. And in business, vendor relationships are often long term in nature. Whether the vendor is supporting your HRIS system or cleans your office, business relationships typically span a number of years. Knowing that in advance, why is it that occasionally either the vendor OR client will still attempt to take some unfair advantage of the other party – even though animosity can and often will create lasting tensions beginning early in the partnership, yes, partnership? Hidden costs or product misrepresentation are common vendor transgressions. Unpaid invoices and new “scope creep” demands are just a few client offenses.

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LBi HR HelpDesk Tips and Tricks – Extracting Data From Reports

HR HelpDesk Data Tools

All good Help Desk report writing tools offer multiple data sorting and filtering options, providing the user with the specific view they require for a specific report. But what if the resulting report presents some extraneous data, or possibly is missing desired data points that may not be included in that particular report template?

Novice and non-technical users generally are not provided access directly to the underlying database, and even if they were they wouldn’t know how to use it for customized reporting. Crystal and other popular report writers, often used as the reporting engine in business applications, try to provide a reasonably simple tool for creating or modifying reports, though these tools are far too complex for the average user.

And don’t bother contacting IT for assistance. Take a number and they will get back to you.

So, how would you like to run a report thinking “I don’t need these 2 fields, but I would like to add a different field; and create a different presentation of the report. And accomplish that in a few mouse clicks.” That would be nice, right? …Read More

The Importance of Multi-Language Capability in HR Software

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
Multi-language

If your organization is multi-national, then you already understand the requirement for multi-language versions of business software. Whether the software application is employee-facing (i.e., HR Help Desk or Time & Attendance) or not, your multi-national workforce may necessitate the adoption of systems that provide multiple language versions.

However, even very small organizations can have the same or similar language issues. In the US today, there is tremendous growth in the Hispanic population, as well as steady immigration from Asian and Middle Eastern countries. The chances of SMBs having some predominately non-English speaking employees are very high. Proactive companies are providing English as a second language classes for their foreign-born employees, helping them assimilate into American culture.

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Determining the ROI on HR Business Systems – or Not

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
HR Systems ROI

Return on Investment (aka ROI) implies at some future point you get your money back after the investment is made. There is an initial financial investment, and an eventual “return” of those dollars (and then some, hopefully) down the road.

Depending on the system being implemented, calculating your potential ROI can be simple math or a much more complex process. Are there truly hard-dollar quantifiable savings — elimination of paper records and storage, staffing cuts, etc? Or are the savings more in the soft-dollar category, such as time saved or greater employee satisfaction? Probably, with HR systems, it will be a combination of both.

 

Calculating the Total Cost of Ownership

First you have the task of attempting to accurately quantify the numbers. How much does all that paper actually cost? And did the staff cuts force new overtime pay for the remaining employees, cutting FTEs with little to no drop in overall payroll expense? Did employee satisfaction improvements result in measurable productivity gains and/or lower turnover? Can you even determine that?

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HR System Integration vs. Application Interfaces – A Tutorial

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment

Literally (not virtually) 100% of LBi HR Help Desk clients require connectivity to their internal HR system (or application), and often to other systems as well, such as Payroll, Talent Management, data analytics systems and others. These connections may range from real or near-real time, to hourly, daily, or even less frequently.

Connectivity (we will discuss integration vs. interface shortly) can be one directional or bidirectional, depending on the client requirements. Therefore, it is critical for HR to carefully plan which systems need to be connected, and to what level.

Vendors will primarily use the term “integration” generically when discussing data connectivity; but what is the difference between integration and interface? And why should you care? You should care because different connectivity methods require differing skill sets and timeframes. If your IT staff is short-handed you may run past deadlines and deployment goals, not to mention presenting ongoing support concerns.

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Using Your HR Help Desk to Predict (and Prevent) Employee Defection

prevent employee defection

Many corporate HR departments are enjoying the benefits of a robust HR Help Desk. Critical to HR is the ability to track every employee request or issue, while maintaining a comprehensive permanent record of each and every case. Equally critical is the means to provide consistent and accurate responses, and compliance with company SLA terms. HR Help Desk systems are designed specifically to provide those services and more.

Other systems, such as Talent Management applications, provide tools to ensure the smoothest recruiting, onboarding, training and development possible, as well as managing the full lifecycle of the employee’s tenure with the organization.

So what happens when the unthinkable occurs and an employee decides to leave? Especially a valued employee. While the wheels are already turning rapidly for the employees planned exit, unfortunately “rolling stones gather no moss”, as they say.

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Don’t Use Your IT Help Desk for HR

Don't Use Your IT Help Desk for HR

When seeking a new case management system for HR, many HR organizations opt for the easy decision of using the company’s existing IT Help Desk solution. Why not? It has similarities to an HR specific system. It has been used successfully by IT for years. It’s feature rich, lower cost, and possibly even no cost to expand the system into the HR department.

Then comes the painful reality of critical differences between IT focused systems and HR-centric systems. And as many people know, once a system is in place it will be very difficult to replace later. You will probably have to live with your selection for years to come.

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SaaS and the Cloud: They’re Different

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment
SaaS and cloud computing are different and do not mean the same thing

Why are cloud computing and SaaS (Software as a Service) so often used interchangeably – incorrectly? Well, clearly, most assume a SaaS offering is in the cloud due to its inherent low cost. But that is not true; a SaaS application could reside on a fixed or virtual server. Likewise, cloud computing should not imply SaaS: any application, including single tenant apps, can be hosted in the cloud.

Vendors and service providers put their own spin on SaaS and the cloud to suit their needs, which makes it even more difficult to understand the differences.

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The Importance of Overseas Travel for College Students

By | Talent Management | Leave a comment

When I was in college way back in the 1970’s it was relatively uncommon for average students to travel abroad, whether privately or through school sponsored programs. Foreign travel came (if at all) after graduation and after enough money was saved for the special trip. Unless you were a foreign exchange student or majored in a subject that necessitated overseas study, there simply weren’t viable opportunities for expensive travel for most kids.

Today, in many colleges and universities, study-abroad programs are highly recommended, and in many cases mandatory for graduation. Even in majors such as fine arts, life sciences, pre-law and others, the best schools recognize the tremendous benefits students receive from direct exposure to other cultures. Most schools that offer these programs subsidize the study abroad costs over and above regular scholarships, grants and loans in order to make it as affordable as possible for students.

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HR Technology: Ensuring Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality

By | Data Security | Leave a comment

Regardless of what software and hosting they use, all HR leaders share one thing in common: They want to be sure their HR applications can deliver three mission-critical objectives — privacy, security, and confidentiality.

In HR case management, here’s how those three important objectives are defined and achieved:

  1. Confidentiality — Cases are accessible depending on their category or type of case and on rules set up by the organization. Confidentiality is meant to protect the case because of its assumed sensitivity or for legal reasons, and also to protect the identity of the employee and others involved. Examples include claims of sexual harassment, employee theft, and complaints about managers.
  2. Privacy — Cases are accessible only by authorized users based on the type of case and, largely, on the desires of the employee. For example, an employee may have a general HR question and want the response to be kept private. HR may not consider the topic one that demands confidentiality. LBi HR HelpDesk ensures privacy between the employee and HR by letting employees determine how they receive their responses during the handling of their case — email, in-person or directly by phone, for example.
  3. Security — Security is all about protecting data and information, and it’s delivered in various ways:
    • LBi HR HelpDesk Enterprise, for example, uses a single-tenant model with hosting on its dedicated server option including a dedicated hardware firewall. In our SaaS multi-tenant model (Pro and ProPlus) the data is stored in separate schemas divided by client so that “records are not co-mingled”.
    • Data is “encrypted at rest” to increase security. Data at rest is any data that’s not moving over a network or temporarily residing in computer memory to be read or updated (an HR case form that an employee has downloaded, for example). Encrypting data at rest requires password-based access if the server is ever unplugged and rebooted — or accessed by an unauthorized user.
    • Key PII (personal identifiable information) data fields such as Social Security Number or Bank Account info are further encrypted at the field level.
    • LBi HR HelpDesk Enterprise hosting offers “intrusion detection” at the server level that’s physically monitored around the clock.
    • The LBi HR HelpDesk application (and all our applications) are designed and developed using the secure coding principles from the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP).

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Faking it on LinkedIn

By | Compliance | Leave a comment

It is common knowledge that social media is a breeding ground for nefarious activities, conducted by all sorts of people with ill intentions. And much of this occurs on Facebook, considering it is the #1 worldwide social media site. Certainly preying on minors and cyber-bullying are two of the top offenses we read about almost daily.

But much less is written about the use of LinkedIn and other professional networks for dishonest, misleading and potentially criminal means. LinkedIn is the go-to social site for business professionals who want to expand their network of colleagues and contacts with similar interests, not to mention posting resumes in hopes of uncovering new and more lucrative job offers. So why would anyone wish to “intrude” on members who are simply seeking to interact with others strictly on a professional basis? And how do the scams work?

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Managing SLA Rules in Large, Global or Multi-regional Companies

By | Compliance | Leave a comment

One of the most important functions of the HR department is to respond to employee issues and requests in a timely manner. Certainly, different case types have different priorities. For instance, a manager dispute would always take precedence over a tuition reimbursement request.

But other factors may also weigh in on Service Level Agreement (SLA) policies. Multi-national or multi-regional organizations may have to contend with differing local laws and regulations. Companies with union employees may have different requirements for non-union employees, or even different unions. Not to mention hourly vs. salaried worker policies.

SLA tracking gets even more complicated when dealing with varying time zones. What does an 8 business hour response time mean to a worker in California when the corporate HR department is in New Jersey? Whose 8 hour day does the SLA refer to? In many cases, this can be cleared up by well written policy and procedure documents. However, it may not be that simple, again when dealing with the likes of unions and government regulations.

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Keeping Confidential HR Data Confidential

At LBi, virtually 100% of the systems we develop and support maintain at least some level of private and confidential employee information. Along with the essentials of Social Security Number, date of birth, home address, etc., our systems may also contain work background information, personal health information and other personally identifiable data as well. Therefore, it goes without saying that our clients require the highest level of data confidentiality possible, since a data breach can be costly and inconvenient at best and financially devastating at worst.

Whether our systems are hosted by LBi or deployed on the client’s internal servers, data protection and security is always the #1 concern. During the project stage, critical questions are asked about the vendor’s security measures as well as the data security processes of the hosting provider — not to mention confidentiality features built into the actual system.

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Summertime in HR

The lazy days of summer are finally here. Time for that long-deserved vacation from work and the daily grind. Whether you are a shop-floor worker, business manager, or a senior executive, summertime is the most popular time of year to “vacate”.

Though most businesses don’t shut down during the summer, business activity often slows down because clients, prospects, vendors, and partners are also heading for the beach, mountains, or wherever their desires take them.

So now is a great time for HR to kick back and enjoy the relaxed pace, right? Yes, but… there are still SLAs to honor, paychecks to get out on time, and other workplace issues to address. Additionally, many employee self-service HR applications are supported on mobile devices, so employees can now engage HR anytime, anywhere, with the expectation that HR is there for them when needed. With staffing levels likely lower during the summer season, HR still maintains the responsibility to support the employee population, whether they are on the job or on leave.

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Help Employees and the Company Thrive by Supporting Continuing Education

Encouraging employees to continue their education can increase your company’s profits, improve productivity and create more committed employees. Spending around $680 on education and training per employee returns an annual investment of around 6 percent, according to a study from the Association for Talent Development. Give your employees the tools they need to succeed by helping them choose the best options for their education. Here’s how to get started.

Create an employee action plan
Before talking with employees about their education goals, determine what type of support the company will offer. Consider implementing a tuition reimbursement program, paying for books or supporting specific degrees or areas of interest. Businesses that can’t afford a tuition reimbursement program but still want to support their employees’ education can offer a flexible schedule for classes and study time.

Next, sit down with your employees individually and figure out an education action plan that benefits both the company and them. Ask your employee to draft up a proposal of what type of courses or degrees would benefit their career and how they expect it to fold into their day-to-day responsibilities while helping them grow professionally. Create guidelines for how time away from work will be handled and whether employees must pay back fees if they stop taking classes.

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Determining HR Staff Requirements with HR Help Desk Statistics

hr analytics for staffing

 

Much has been written about finding the optimum ratio of HR staff to employee size. A SHRM Human Capital Benchmarking Study has published a suggested ratio based purely on employee count:

The formula to calculate the ratio would be:

(HR Staff Count / Employee Count) x 100

For instance, a 1500 employee company with 10 HR personnel would have a ratio of 0.67, somewhat below the supposed target staff according to the table above (10/1500 * 100 = .67). In theory, based on the chart, 12 HR personnel would be optimal to manage 1500 employees.

SHRM suggests that not all HR staff should be factored into the count. Generally it is recommended to only include HR professionals who work as generalists, and those in areas such as benefits, compensation, labor relations and organizational effectiveness. Payroll and other specialized roles should not be counted.

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Increase Productivity & Job Satisfaction with Employee Incentives

If your employees seem unmotivated, they might be in a slump. Only 30 percent of workers in America are actively engaged in their jobs, according to a recent Gallup survey. The decline in employee engagement reportedly began in 2008 during the Great Recession, when job security and unpredictability were at the forefront of concern and positive attitudes plummeted.

Today, human resources departments understand more than ever that rewards and recognition can play a key role in helping businesses increase productivity and create an overall happier workplace.

Reclaim your workforce by implementing an innovative rewards program that includes compensation, gifting, recognition, and perks. Here are a few ways to get started!

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Sierra-Cedar 2015-16 HR Systems Survey

Sierra-Cedar 2015-2016

How efficient is your HR organization? Is there room for improvement (there always is, right)? Just as importantly, how well run is your group compared to others in your industry, or in the market in general?

Whether or not you believe your HR organization is performing at peak efficiency levels, understanding how your peers are managing their firms, companies with the same issues and challenges you face, can only expose new and potentially productive ideas.

Since you are not likely to call on your competition to compare notes, how can you broaden your knowledge of industry trends and cutting edge business tools? The answer is in the HR industry’s most comprehensive annual survey, the Sierra–Cedar 2015–2016 HR Systems Survey, 18th Annual Edition.

In partnership with Sierra-Cedar, LBi invites you to participate. The survey is now available at www.Sierra-Cedar.com/hrssv45 until the deadline on June 30, 2015. All responses are confidential and only used in aggregate results.

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Leverage HR Case Management to Help Keep Your Best Employees

Leverage HR Case Management to Keep Best Employees

Keeping top talent has become an increasing concern for HR, and it’s a challenge that’s expected to get more difficult, according to SHRM and others. Yet all too often, it’s only after the fact — during the exit interview and maybe not even then — that managers learn why departing employees are disgruntled.

“The only time the average manager thinks about retention is when she or he receives a resignation from an employee,” say B. Lynn Ware and Bruce Fern in their research report “The Challenge of Retaining Top Talent: The Workforce Attrition Crisis.” “We also found that most managers predictably attempt to talk departing employees out of leaving, trying to convince them that they are making a mistake.”

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Prevent Identity Theft from Happening to Your Small Business

By | Compliance | Leave a comment

Identity theft isn’t just limited to individuals. Businesses are also targets. Identity thieves steal personal information and use it to open accounts and make purchases. Luckily, there are certain things you can do to keep your small business safe.

Regularly Review Your Business Banking Agreements
Business bank accounts fall under the UCC, which states that businesses have less time to report fraud and identity theft than consumers do. Businesses also have more liability when it comes to fraud. Because of this, it’s important that you review your banking agreements. The organization Business ID Theft says you should be aware of your bank’s policies, especially those regarding your business’s liability for fraud.

Develop a Defense Plan
The U.S. Small Business Administration advises small businesses to develop a defense plan to ensure your company’s identity is protected. By designing a detailed plan you can protect your business’s identity as well as put an action plan in place in case your business falls prey to identity theft.

Use Encryption
By encrypting your data you will minimize your chances of having your identity stolen. Employees or outsiders can steal this data. However, according to Lawrence R. Rogers, one of the senior members of the technical team of Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, encrypted data is similar to shredded paper. The thief may be able to tape all of the little pieces of paper together, but it takes so much time and so many resources the data itself will be useless by the time he is done. …Read More

LBi HR HelpDesk: Delivering the Choices Our Customers Need

No business application can be all things to all people, but with the right team behind it, it can certainly come close. Rather than taking the “build it and they will come” strategy, successful software developers continually research their market and listen closely to what their customers and prospects are asking for.

You have spoken and LBi has listened. Whether your business is a 10 employee startup or a multinational conglomerate, LBi has an HR Case Management solution for you. From our LBi HR HelpDesk Free edition to the fully featured world-class LBi HR HelpDesk Enterprise, LBi has your business covered.

Designed explicitly for HR, and fully capable in virtually any industry, LBi’s 4 classes of HR HelpDesk cover every common client feature request from free and low cost online SaaS versions to in-the-box multi language support. Some clients desire the convenience and low cost of a cloud-based solution. We delivered. Larger and more security minded organizations still insist on dedicated server hosting or on-premises deployments. We delivered. Multi-language needs?  How about 90 different language options via the new embedded Google Translate on-the-fly language translation service? We delivered.

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HR Help Desk vs. IT Help Desk – It’s all about the Vendor’s Experience

Much has been written (including by yours truly) about the benefits of an HR specific help desk solution for the HR department, versus repurposed IT or generic CRM systems. Features such as enhanced security and confidentiality, HR specific workflow processes, and HIPAA compliance are well documented and are core requirements of most HR organizations.

In the end, however, isn’t it really more about the vendor’s expertise working with HR than it is about the application features? HR personnel may inherently know what they need in a help desk / case management system, but they cannot necessarily correlate their business needs with the features of a pre-packaged help desk solution. That task is left to the system’s implementation team (aka the vendor).

For instance, HR needs the ability to tag particularly sensitive cases as confidential, viewable and accessible strictly to the case owner.  But most IT-modified systems don’t deal with the concept of confidentiality. What is confidential about a PC error or someone’s telephone not working – common tickets in an IT help desk system.  Can the vendor (and product) handle that requirement appropriately?

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Increase the Influence of Your HR Data to Win Friends and Influence People

One of the key imperatives from the C-suite for HR this year, according to the CEB’s Leadership Council Research, is to increase the influence of HR data in the enterprise organization.

In fact, developing and applying measurement strategies that “ensure efficiency, effectiveness, and business alignment” is among the 10 best practices of “high-impact HR organizations,” according to research from Bersin by Deloitte.

Yet only 8 percent of senior HR leaders “believe they are getting returns on their talent analytics investments, and only 15 percent of business leaders have changed a decision in the past year as a result of data from HR,” according to the CEB report.

It’s a sad irony, considering the mountain of people data at HR’s fingertips.

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Automated HR Case Management: Helping Move HR From an Administrative Services Provider to a Service Organization

Over the last decade, HR has gradually evolved from being a provider of administrative services into a service organization. HR today provides greater value for the business and delivers a breadth of automated people functions. As a result, HR technology, HR data systems, and HR resources are all now tasked with delivering valuable services for the entire enterprise organization.

HR no longer merely provides benefits administration. HR today is tasked with helping drive strategy, burnish the company brand, influence retention and recruiting, identify workplace trends, and more. For example, research from The Hackett Group, a global strategic business advisory and operations improvement consulting firm, found in 2013 that HR leaders were focusing on strategies for “process improvement, including cost reduction and standardization of processes, data, technology, and organizational culture; improving the effectiveness of talent management; obtaining more value from data to enable better decisions; and expanding the use of technology.”

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Top HR Influencers and Bloggers (2015 Edition)

The following is a purely subjective list of the top HCM and HR leaders and bloggers to follow on Twitter. We’ve found that they all have a true passion for Human Resources. Our list stops at 185, but there are really many more. The names can also be found on List.ly. It’s in no particular order, other than alphabetically by first name. We apologize if we left anyone off. Please add any HR influencers in the comments and we will add them to the list.

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Encouraging Employees AND Employers to Use HR Self-Service Tools

self-service

Recently, two new clients opted to implement LBi HR Help Desk without, at least initially, the Employee Self-Service Portal feature. Though the great majority of clients do deploy the Self-Service Portal, there are still a number of clients that choose to continue with phone and email case requests.

LBi HR Help Desk does provide features that help automate call-ins and email initiated tickets. For instance, HR Help Desk supports Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Computer Telephony Integration (CTI). With IVR/CTI technology, calls into HR can automatically be routed to the appropriate agent, and instantly open the employee HR Help Desk Masterfile screen ready to verify and engage the caller. More advanced telephony integration can be implemented where employees can generate cases via the touchtone system, similar to phone-based banking, though this option is less common.

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How to Green Up Your Workspace

Have you ever noticed that you feel different when surrounded by nature or when there are plants nearby? New research conducted by the University of Exeter shows that employees are happier and up to 15 percent more productive in work environments with plants than in environments without any greenery.

Green Is Good for Productivity

Academics from the University of Exeter, the University of Queensland, Australia, and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands carried out a long-term experiment comparing employees in two large commercial offices in the UK and the Netherlands. They monitored one office with plants and one without plants and measured employees’ perceptions of air quality, workplace satisfaction, concentration and productivity levels. The results show significant increases in all three areas of employee perception in the work environment with plants and a 15 percent increase in productivity. Researchers believe that the plants help employees to be more physically, cognitively and emotionally involved in their work.

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How Cloud and Other Technology Trends Are Transforming HR

Marc Solow, Deloitte Consulting LLP’s HR Shared Services Practices Leader, was cited in a recent blog post that really hit home for us. In a nutshell, Solow identified several HR trends occurring as a result of changes in technology. We agree with Solow’s insight and think the benefits of cloud-based automated HR software solutions — including HR case management — provide examples of what he’s talking about.

Five of the trends Solow identified are:

  1. Applying differentiated HR service delivery within organizations
  2. Showing a preference for cloud-based solutions for HR tools
  3. Transforming HR processes with social and mobile technologies
  4. Leveraging specialized outsourcing to drive better outcomes
  5. Consolidating processes of transactions to move value up the chain

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HR Self-Service: Why It Matters for Managers, Too

By | HR Effectiveness | Leave a comment

Usually when you hear the phrase “HR self-service,” it’s in the context of how its features can benefit employees and HR. It’s true that organizations of almost any size that have a robust, user-friendly, and meaningful employee self-service application also have higher employee engagement and more-efficient and data-rich HR departments compared with their counterparts that lack HR self-service solutions.

But there’s anther entire segment of the workforce that can also benefit hugely from HR self-service: managers and supervisors. Workplace trends suggest that HR leaders would be well served to consider ways to leverage HR self-service to support managers and supervisors. They’re the people whom research increasingly shows play a crucial role in retaining top employees and helping HR deliver its mission.

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The Importance of ROI When Evaluating Ancillary Business Systems


There is a general category of software based business systems that is considered mission critical to most organizations. Very few companies can operate without a general ledger package, a payroll system (or service), HRIS system, as well as industry specific systems for time and billing, manufacturing, distribution, etc. Final selection of these applications (often through an RFP process) is generally based on a combination of factors such as required functionality, ease of use, integration with other internal systems, and cost. Ultimately, regardless of whether these systems can actually save time and/or money, the business needs them and choices are made.

Where ROI (Return on Investment) analysis starts to become a greater factor in product selection is when internal business units (such as HR) are seeking out ancillary systems, sometimes referred to as “bolt-on” solutions. Examples are Data Warehouses, HR Recruiting systems, Performance Review systems, Case/ticket Management, etc. Products in this category may not be viewed as mission critical to the entire organization, but rather are considered more business critical — important primarily to the specific business group seeking the solution. In other words, the company would not shut down without them, although business operations could likely be greatly improved with them.

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Managing Human Resources Service Level Agreements (SLA)

By | Compliance | Leave a comment

With the advent of productive office automation systems in HR, management now has the tools to create, track, and effectively adhere to standards of service delivered to their employees.  Modern HR systems for time and attendance automation, case management, talent management, and more all provide the ability to set unambiguous SLAs and analyze actual HR performance results.

So what is the best process for defining specific SLA standards for specific tasks and functions?  Some tasks, such as handling FMLA requests or payroll errors, are likely already defined by the government or your current company policies.  But since newer, more comprehensive computer systems provide the ability to be much more granular in task management automation, service levels for many other discrete tasks may now have to be developed and agreed to.

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Clearing up the Cloudiness

By | Data Security | Leave a comment

The benefits of the cloud for HR technology are unassailable. It makes the adoption of robust, complex programs and systems affordable and scalable. Unlike legacy systems that run on your organization’s own servers, cloud-based solutions don’t require you to buy any hardware; all system maintenance, updates, and support are part of the package, and they’re usually paid for on a subscription or fee-for-use basis. Cloud-based solutions are also often designed with layers of features and complexity built in — behind the curtain, so to speak — so you can change your configuration and add more users with the flip of a switch.

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3 Design Tips to Increase Office Productivity

There are some office configurations that are simply more conducive to productivity than others. A 2013 survey of 42,000 office workers by the University of Sydney found that open-plan spaces — those that have employees seated in large spaces without walls separating them — lower office productivity and morale. Researchers concluded the lack of privacy, personal space and perpetual noise were the biggest factors in lowering productivity.

These results contradicted the industry-accepted idea of open-plan spaces benefiting work environments. They also showed that the layout of your office can make all the difference between a distracted staff and one that is content and comfortable, and thus productive. Here are three additional ideas to help create an environment that boosts morale and subsequently, productivity. …Read More

HR Technology Is Changing to Work for David and Goliath

If there’s one thing we learned coming out of HR Tech this year, it’s that HR technology is truly evolving to provide software solutions designed and intended from the start to work just as well for smaller companies as larger ones.

It’s true that HR technology designed for companies with fewer than 2,000 employees has been around for at least a handful of years. Steve Boese, one of the most influential surveyors of the HR technology landscape, wrote in 2009 that there already was “no shortage of competitors” with systems for storing the “demographic, work history, and sometimes payroll and benefits information” for the non-enterprise organization.

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HR Tech 2014 Recap: HR HelpDesk Rated “E” for Everyone

By | HR Technology | Leave a comment

Guests at our HR Tech booth had fun playing Plinko for a guaranteed prize (vibration speakers, ear buds, USBs, water bottles…) and a chance at four Chromebooks and four Kindles.

The hottest prize at the booth was the vibration speaker — a cool gadget that magnifies the sound of your smartphone via vibration (no bluetooth); we had a lot of fun giving those demonstrations.

Our booth theme was HR HelpDesk Rated “E” for Everyone – HR HelpDesk, our innovative Case Management software, comes in four versions for organizations of varying sizes.

The E also stands for:

  • Employee Engagement
  • Efficient Case Management
  • Easy Sign up – no credit card required for free trials
  • Encompassing Pricing
  • And any other “E” word our marketing people could come up with.

We also generated some buzz on twitter at #EforEveryone.

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The ROI of HR Case Management

Implementing automated HR Case Management/HR Help Desk can save you money. This post will show you how to calculate that savings.

If you have a traditional manual HR call center with no automation you already have efficiencies in handling the incoming queries compared with a traditional HR staffing system. But you still face the challenges of providing accurate and consistent information, as well as the problem of managing the call center and staffing it with HR professionals. The bottom line is that many of the challenges inherent in a manual process tend to remain, while the biggest potential for reducing costs through an automated system are not leveraged.

Upgrading your call center with an automated HR help desk will help you address these problems and lower operating costs.

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Secure HR Case Management

By | Compliance | Leave a comment
Secure HR Case Management

The last thing you need is for employees to distrust HR. It can happen when you don’t have a system in place to route confidential cases, such as harassment or manager dispute cases, to strictly authorized personnel. It can also happen when you use a manual system that fails to ensure that you’re compliant with HIPAA, PHI, PII, and safe harbor regulations. There can be fines of up to $250,000 for violations (and imprisonment of up to 10 years for knowingly abusing or misusing an individual’s health information). …Read More

The Rise of HR Knowledge Bases

We live in the self-service era — self-serve check-out lines, pay at the pump, YouTube do it yourself videos… I just fixed my mountain bike by watching a YouTube video on how to adjust the disc brakes. It is just faster to do it ourselves. I didn’t have to drop my bike off at the shop and waste any time. Also, there is a bit of a self-esteem lift involved when you fix it yourself. Recently I fixed my garage door opener by ordering a $10 part and watching a YouTube video. (Although when I started it I did not realize the video was “1 of 5” and it would take me 8 hours to do it. But time management will be saved for another blog post.) The key was even though I wasted a tremendous amount of time, I felt good that I had fixed the door by myself.

An HR Knowledge Base can contain all types of employee information — benefits guide, code of conduct, policy information, PC FAQs… It is more than just an online Employee Handbook. The key to a knowledge base is the information that allows the employee to easily find answers to their questions. So properly indexing the knowledge base is essential. The knowledge base should have search engines that allow an individual to type in a question. It is much more than an FAQ.

A good knowledge base and supporting tools can empower your employees to find the answers to their questions themselves. This both saves HR time and engages your workforce.

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ESS…Build It and They Will Come…Not Necessarily

The best thing about computer technology is instant access to information any time, anywhere. Smart phones and tablet computers are a godsend in today’s fast moving world. Don’t agree? Just ask Siri or Skyvi (Google’s version of Siri). Now you can find a movie, a restaurant, a gas station, plumber, or anything else you need with just a few taps of the screen.

Pew Research estimates 58% of American adults have a smart phone, and 42% have a tablet computer. Clearly smart device owners understand the power at their fingertips and are realizing significant productivity gains, at least in the category of personal time management. So it stands to reason that mobile information access would provide similar benefits in the workplace, right? For instance, an HR self-service app that delivers virtually instant answers to all of a worker’s employment-related questions, right on their PC, phone or tablet? Well, this is true…if the content is comprehensive and the search tool is simple to use.

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The Power of Combining HR Case Management with Self-service Technology

SMB Employee Self Service

The combination of case management and self-service technology gives employees the power to answer their own questions and take care of many of their own HR and benefits tasks at a time of their choosing and from their own desks — or even from home. Employees are increasingly expecting their online interactions at work to be as easy and personalized as their online consumer experiences. Online workplace applications — including HR programs — are now considered table stakes for businesses of all sizes to reach and support their employees.

This means that by implementing these solutions, the company is also giving time and resources back to HR. Fewer HR hours need to be allocated to answering employee questions and managing routine paperwork. And that means more time and resources to focus on strategic business tasks and planning.

Studies show that the right self-service system, like that in LBi HR HelpDesk Pro and ProPlus, can accurately address and resolve 80 percent of all employee inquiries. This is particularly significant for SMB organizations that are still operating with a traditional HR department and a manual case management system or resolution process.

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Are Employment-At-Will Laws Really Good for the Employer or Employee?

Wikipedia describes at-will employment laws as follows:

“At-will employment is a term used in U.S. labor law for contractual relationships in which an employee can be dismissed by an employer for any reason (that is, without having to establish “just cause” for termination), and without warning…[and] an employee may be similarly entitled to leave his or her job without reason or warning.”

Like many well-meaning HR policies, at-will laws in practice may be a double edged sword.  On the surface at-will regulations appear to be beneficial for the employer and employee, though with some negative implications.

An employee can quit with no advanced notice, freeing the departing worker to “jump ship” Friday afternoon ready for the next new career move the following Monday without skipping a beat professionally. After all, it is the employer’s prerogative to immediately dismiss the resigning employee whether or not they offered the traditional two week notice. If this were to occur, the employee could potentially have a costly time gap between the old and new job. So why provide any notice at all?

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Why SMBs Are Using HR HelpDesk

SMBs and HR HelpDesk

HR departments in small to medium sized organizations share the same employee issues that occur in large enterprises; the only difference being the volume of problems HR is confronted with.  Labor disputes, morale problems, productivity issues, compensation inequality and more, are the bane of HR departments both large and small.

As one well known technology company proudly articulates, “There’s an app for that”.  And there is.  But until now case management software solutions explicitly developed to address the privacy and confidentiality requirements of HR have been out of reach for the SMB market due to the generally higher cost factor. Lower cost IT help desk and sales/support focused CRM systems, even Excel spreadsheets and simple email public folders, have long been considered “good enough” for smaller HR departments, and for some companies that is certainly true.

However, what happens when that emailed ticket declaring an employee’s sexual harassment accusation is inadvertently (or intentionally) BCC’d or forwarded to unauthorized eyes? This breach of confidentiality can be extremely costly for any sized organization.

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Is the 360 Degree Employee Review Method a Good Idea?

Are 360 degree employee reviews particularly more or less fair to the employee? Let’s start with defining the 360 degree review process. 360 degree employee performance reviews encompass comments from the employee’s managers and peers, customer feedback, HR statistics such as patterns of absences and late/tardy occurrences, as well as actual performance measures.

Additionally, some companies monitor their employee’s social media sites, looking for more clues into their overall impact on the organization. Some reasonable weight is assigned to each of these processes in order to assess the total picture of the employee’s value and contribution to the business.

Seems fair and complete, right? Well they certainly can be, as long as the proper weight is applied to each component of the review, and subjectivity is minimized. For instance, an employee may have achieved 100% of his MBO’s, but for various reasons is not viewed favorably by his/her peers. Does that really matter in the long run? Another employee might have successfully completed all of his projects on time and within budget, but management was quietly expecting more cost cutting measures, though not openly mandated. Is that fair?

Traditional employee reviews focus primarily on performance compared directly to assigned objectives, with additional consideration given to other mitigating factors such as general employee attitude, leadership qualities, attendance, etc. But 360 degree employee reviews take a truly holistic approach and effectively become the “balanced scorecard” of employee reviews.

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