From the Ground-Up: Human Resources 101 for Startups

In this guest post, Erin Osterhaus, Managing Editor at The New Talent Times reveals how one start-up built a flourishing HR department from scratch.

For many startups, human resources tends to be the last item on the agenda when getting their business off the groundin the beginning most tend to focus their limited resources on generating revenue and drawing attention to their brand. But, as the company starts to grow, managing employees becomes more complex.

So how can your company navigate the tough transition from bootstrapped startup to flourishing business? Erin Osterhaus, an HR Analyst at Software Advicea website that reviews HR software—decided to find out. She sat down with Kim Rohrer, Disqus’ Head of People Operations, to learn how to develop an HR department once your startup begins to gain steam, and employees.

Disqus, a company that provides blog comment hosting services for websites and online communities, went through its own startup growing pains. When Rohrer started out at Disqus in 2010, the company had no HR department to speak of. However, Rohrer successfully  spearheaded the development of the company’s HR division while maintaining the same momentum and efficiency that allowed Disqus to grow in the first place. She offered the following tips for other startups going through similar growing pains:

Define Departmental Responsibilities

At Disqus, as at many startups, the company had a “flat” culture in the beginning. According to Rohrer, this meant that there were no managers or directors. As the company grew, this “flatness” became a problem. The CEO couldn’t oversee the activities of all the employees as he had been doing. Instead, he and Rohrer worked closely to create some a management structure. They defined roles for leaders for their Product Development, Engineering, and Advertising teams.

The added hierarchy improved communication between departments and helped Disqus function at a higher level. It also helped ensure that all employees’ concerns and questions could be addressed by HR if needed, and has helped avoid HR issues and complications. As such, Rohrer suggests appointing leaders of teams early on. Having some form of a management structure will assist your startup as it grows—the CEO can’t manage everyone once you start growing beyond a core team.

Build a Killer HR Team

You can’t create a killer team without people. And who finds people? Recruiters. So, from the start, Rohrer suggests making an effort to hire a designated recruiter to find the employees your company will need to succeed.

Additionally, Rohrer suggests filling out your HR team with an office manager. As Rohrer says, when she started at Disqus, she was a sort of Jill-of-all-trades.” She organized office supplies, company events, IT, and sometimes even took on facilities maintenance. This sort of disjointed job functionality prevented her from focusing on more strategic HR functions, like developing Disqus’ company culture and improving employees’ job satisfaction. Once she hired an office manager—using her recently hired recruiter—she could focus on making Disqus a great place to work.

Develop a Support Group

The rapid growth of startups can be a challenging time for HR teams. Rohrer’s final tip is to ensure you have a support community to learn from during this important transition phase.

In fact, Rohrer believes this so strongly, that she helped create Organization Organizers, a network of business operations professionals that hosts learning and development events, and serves as a forum for its members to share their HR experiences.  “No one should have to reinvent the wheel,” Rohrer says. “If we all learn and grow together, the entire industry does better.”

The full interview can be found on Software Advice’s Talent Management blog, The New Talent Times.

 

 

 

 

 

Your Questions About Employee Recognition…Answered LIVE!

Live Webcast

Thursday, December 12, 2013 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM EST

Course Description:

Join other business leaders and HR professionals in this highly interactive webcast.  Our panel of recognition experts will address questions submitted from the audience…LIVE.  Get the answers you need to make employee recognition work best in your business.   Find out what questions other HR Professionals and business leaders are asking, and get answers to the most frequently asked questions organizations are facing when it comes to recognizing their employees.   

Panel of Experts Includes:

  • Mike Byam, author of The WOW! Workplace and Managing Partner
  • Bill Bergstrom, National Recognition Manager
  • Alex Allion, Western United States Recognition Director

Join these three recognition experts from Terryberry, one of the world’s foremost recognition providers, as they discuss your questions on the topic of employee recognition.

Learn the cutting edge of employee recognition that actually boosts engagement, adds value to your organization’s bottom line, and ultimately aligns your employees with your organization’s mission and goals.

Who should attend:

  • Human Resources Professionals
  • Recognition Program Administrators
  • Managers
  • Anyone who makes award presentations
This webcast is free, but space is limited, so register today!

HubSpot: Creating a Company You Love

Improving Company Culture With Foosball

Photo courtesy of Flickr user @robscomputer

If there is one thing that separates the new generation from previous generations, it is that people are no longer willing to settle. Gone are the days when we would fall into a career and stick with it for the promise of stable paychecks. Money is not the top priority anymore. Now, what matters is that we find meaning in what we do, and that we love what we do.

In order to love what you do, you must appreciate the environment you are working in, as well as the people you are working with. This can be attained through working for a company that has the kind of company culture you are looking to be a part of.

HubSpot, pioneers in inbound marketing who help customers make marketing people love, describes in a recent presentation, how they built their culture and why it works for them and their employees.

Here are the crib notes of HubSpot’s 155 slide presentation on their Company Culture [link to the original presentation]:

“A great culture helps attract great people.”

A “culture” is a “set of shared beliefs, values and practices”. Not only do people want to be part of a great culture that aligns with their beliefs and values, but a company wants to create a great culture in order to attract the kind of people they want working for them. They don’t want people who just have a lot of skills or experience, but people who help further the company by sharing the same passion towards their goals.

The HubSpot Culture Code:

1. We are as maniacal about our metrics as our mission.

It’s not just about numbers. Yes, sales are important to the longevity of the company, but staying true to your mission is what will earn you the love of your customers.

2. We obsess over customers, not competitors.

Delight your customers, educate your customers, Solve for the customer (SFTC).

3. We are radically and uncomfortably transparent.

“Power came from hoarding knowledge, and decisions were made behind closed doors.” Now, power comes from sharing knowledge.

4. We give ourselves the autonomy to be awesome.

You don’t need packets full of company policies and procedures to know how to run a company. Use good judgement and remember that results matter more than where or when the work is getting done.

5. We are unreasonably picky about our peers.

Hubspot values employees who have HEART: humble, effective, adaptable, remarkable, and transparent (open and honest).

6. We invest in individual mastery and market value.

Compensate fairly while investing generously in learning and growth. Work hard as an individual and work hard as a team.

7. We defy conventional “wisdom” because it’s often unwise.

“Great companies don’t throw money at problems, they throw ideas at them”. The companies of today are much different from companies of the past. They do not operate the same way. Complexity always creeps in, so take risks and get rid of unnecessary factors.

8. We speak the truth and face the facts.

If you disagree, it is your job to speak up. An imperfect or controversial decision is better than no decision.

9. We believe in work + life, not work vs. life.

thennow

It is important to enjoy work AND life, not just working in order to make money so that you can escape to your life. Maintain a balance. Also, workers these days greatly desire flexibility when choosing a career.

10. We are a perpetual work in progress.

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without”- Confucius

Always work hard. Never done iterating, learning, or rethinking.

With so many happy employees facilitating a great company culture that is helping more than 8,000 companies in 56 countries to succeed, other businesses striving to achieve the same success should take note. Becoming a great company does not mean being perfect, but doing your best to make your employees and customers happy while staying aligned with your values. Also, having foosball tables and a fridge stocked with beer doesn’t hurt.

Senior Executives Worst At Giving Recognition

In a recent study conducted by Globoforce and SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) shows  senior executives and human resources scoring the lowest marks for giving recognition.  This confirms our own data that shows that top-down recognition programs need to be reinforced with peer-driven recognition, giving every employee the power of appreciation.

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 5.51.30 AM
The survey was based on 803 HR professional respondents from a randomly selected sample of SHRM’s membership with the title of manager or above and from organizations with 500 or more employees.  The study was conducted March of 2013 and has a margin of error of +/- 3%.

Other key findings include:

  • Nearly half of HR professionals indicated “employee engagement” as the No. 1 HR challenge their organization faces. Other common HR challenges included “succession planning” (39%), “culture management” (35%), and “employee retention/turnover” (33%).
  • An overwhelming number of organizations (94%) believe positive feedback (reinforcing behaviors or performances that should be repeated) has a greater impact on improving employee performance.

Nice work on this Globoforce and SHRM!  Here is the full presentation:

HR Thought Leader: Stacey Carroll

I first met Stacey Carroll at a Trakstar webinar on HR’s role in building a performance-driven organization.   I’ve attended a lot webinar’s and her’s was one of the best.  She provided an energetic and organized approach anyone could follow.  She colored each point with fun and concrete examples.  Her experience as an HR executive at Nordstroms, Payscale, and Trendwest Resorts has armed her with many insights and stories.

She is active on social media and was named by HR Examiner’s as a Top 25 Online Influencers in Talent Management.   At MeritShare we have given her our HR Thought Leader award.

In addition to this award for Stacey,  we are pleased to announce she will be offering a free webinar “Like Me! Rewards & Engagement for Employees in the Social Era” on June 13th at 1:00-2:00pm EDT.   This session is pending approval for 1.0 HRCI re-certification credit.  Save your place now and register in one click here.

The webinar will discuss:
• The effects of employee recognition and regular feedback on engagement
• They types of employees recognition that work best including more modern trends
• Tips and Tricks for effective peer-based recognition and feedback
• 3 steps for implementing a successful employee engagement plan

You’ll leave this session understanding how to update your employee performance and recognition programs to be current with today’s trends and best practices.   Come join us and hear Stayce’s insights and offer your own as well.

Thank’s to David Martin for his support and including us in his excellent Trakstar webinar series.  You can also find Stacey at her website HR Experts on Call.

 

HR Roundup: What Really Matters in your HR Organization

Top Areas of Focus for HR Departments

Top Areas of Focus for HR Departments

 

Today’s HR Roundup comes from Forbes’: The 3 Things Startup Founders Need To Know About HR, a guest post from TribeHR’s Joseph Fung.

The post is directed at startups, but it has a broader benefits to established HR organizations as well. The premise is simple – there are some things you can delegate to consultants or fumble your way through in a new or growing HR organization but there are some things that are core to your corporate health and you cannot afford to overlook them.

The three main recommendations from the article for a new HR Organization are:

1) Cultural Fit -

Hiring the right people can make or break your organization. Technical prowess or tactile expertise is great, but if your new employee doesn’t subscribe to your company culture, agree with your company values and understand your company mission, they’ll never perform to their full capacity and could quickly turn into a disengaged or disconnected employee. Culture fit should be a requirement. You can teach skills, its much harder to change behavior and character.

2) Transparency -

Make sure your employees have the information they need to be autonomous, act in the right manner to benefit the company and perform with an understanding of your company and little uncertainly in your company direction. Fung goes on to say “Be deliberate in the time you choose to share information. Information shared too early may cause employees to shift priorities too soon, and information shared too late may undermine employee confidence.”.

3) Provide a “Why” -

This is a great one. Fung states most companies are good at describing the ‘what’ (product) and the ‘who’ (customers) to employees, but they don’t describe the “Why”. Why is about your larger mission, your vision, your core values as a company. Get your employees to live and breath your values and understand that everything they do revolves around a common mission of everyone at the company and you can turn your average employees into exceptional ones.

Interested in more information about building a great company culture and leading in a world of shorter tenured employees, generational differences in employee motivation and social recruiting? Subscribe to our Manager 2.0 Newsletter where we’ll send you weekly updates on employment trends and what is most talked about on the web in the HR space.

HR Roundup: HR For Startups – 5 Items Not To Overlook

Today’s HR Roundup post comes from the Lean HR Blog post titled “HR 101 for StartUps”.

The post points out that many startups are rightfully focused on building their business, growing their team and closing their next sale.  Having a robust Human Resource strategy for your startup is probably overkill, but the post points out 5 areas you should not miss – regardless of your size.

Lean HR says the 5 HR Items Not To Overlook for your Startup are:

  1. Discrimination
  2. Wage and Hour Laws
  3. Benefits
  4. Termination Policy
  5. Employee Handbook

Visit the Lean HR Blog to Read the Full Post

Three Tips For Employee Recognition Success

Many customers look to us to help them craft a successful peer recognition program within their team or organization.  Research and experience has bubbled up a few key findings that we always try to share with new customers on our platform.  We hope you find the employee recognition tips below helpful in creating an active and effective culture of recognition within your workplace.

Tip #1 – Don’t Let Cash and Prizes Become a Demotivator

Recognition as motivation

Photo courtesy of walknboston

Customers, employees, executives and industry research have told us time and time again that prizes don’t motivate employees.  There is a growing body of research around monetary rewards in general as workplace motivators – the prevailing thought is that once a worker feels they are being compensated fairly for their work, its time to start focusing on other factors of motivators.  Recognition in the workplace from peers or managers can have a huge value to an individual, both emotionally and professionally.  Forbes contributor Meghan Biro states “Monetary rewards can skew this notion of value, linking it to cash when it should be linked to appreciation of extra effort and smarts.”


Tip #2 – Let Peers Drive The Bulk of Recognition

peer recognition

Photo Courtesy of Mr. Boombust

At MeritShare, we believe the value of recognition is the act and expression itself as well as the story that accompanies that recognition.  Recognition from a peer is often considered more treasured by the individual than recognition from a manager or executive as it isn’t viewed as an obligation.  Josh Bersin, principal at Bersin by Deloitte finds “Top-down recognition is often viewed as political and it rarely reaches the “quiet but critical high-performers” in the company…Peers know what you’re doing on a day to day basis, so when they “thank you” for your efforts the impact is much more meaningful.”  The additional upside is that peer-driven recognition can be more frequent.  A recent study on the U.S. workers found 32% of employee say they haven’t been recognized in the last three months.  With fewer managers in the workplace today and the growth of cross-functional teams, its challenging for people-managers to know what all of their employees are accomplishing on a consistent basis – peers are best suited to recognize each other and they can do so much more frequently.  One fantastic process we’ve seen is to let peers recognize each other for recognition and allow managers and executives to pick their favorites from the submissions and announce them at a company meeting or in a company newsletter.

Tip #3 – Don’t Forget to Recognize Upward

Thank your boss

Photo courtesy of bfishadow

It is lonely at the top, the American School Superintendent’s Association states “Often the decisions are difficult and unpopular, and the chief executive officer stands alone, sometimes without support and under attack from within and without the organization.”  When you’re thinking about recognition as a means to motivate and make your coworkers feel special, don’t forget to thank upward.  Let your manager know how important they are to your career development and employee satisfaction.  Let your executives know how much you value their leadership and willingness to make tough decisions. Meaningful recognition makes the recipient feel great – at all levels of the organization.

Simple Acts With Significant Results – The Power of Positive Praise

We’ll end our post with a simple message – say “Thank You” to those you work with.  Strive to do it at least once a week.  It takes just seconds.  Leading global researcher GFK’s research found that intent to leave a position within the next 12 months was 76% higher in those who fail to receive recognition from their manager.  Their research, which was focused on the UK goes on to state: ”UK employers are risking losing significant numbers of staff, in many cases because they’re not even taking the time to do something as simple as saying a formal thank you.”

Making People Decisions With Data

Have you heard about the “new” field of people analytics, using data as the poster nerd for reinventing human resources?

All other performance metrics like revenues and costs are tracked, so it seems logical that those related to the most important resource –people –are quantified into KPI’s.

Our own experience with companies using MeritShare  has shown that what gets measured gets done.    We have seen recognition activity increase with the addition of more feedback loops and analytics for both individuals and companies.  You can’t lose weight without a goal and a scale.  Several months ago we published a national recognition index and heatmap and data visualization of thanks being sent by US State.

Survey’s have always and will continue to be a key part of people analytics toolkit, but we are also starting to deploy other methods to measure and quantify the health of a company’s culture.  We recently published 4 Tips To Measure Action Based Engagement in HR Buddy, providing some thoughts on using more action-based people metrics.

Two of the best resources on how Google makes people decisions data can be found in this excellent TLNT article written by Dr. John Sullivan.  The “Michael Jordan of Hiring” explains how the GOOG organizes and directs their HR organization to “bring the same level of rigor to people-decisions that we do to engineering decisions.”

The other helpful  gem is from Google HR executive Kathryn Dekas presenting “People Analytics: Using Data To Drive HR Strategy & Action” at a Strata conference.  Her story will inspire you to put some people analytics into action,  and it is a must watch video for any HR or management executive.

Please share any advice or thoughts on the topic of people analytics below.    If you want more information on how we help companies get started people analytics, contact me at kevin [at] meritshare.com.

Ten Creative Employee Recognition Ideas from Texas A&M

At MeritShare, we’re always looking for new ways to help managers recognize their employees in a timely and meaningful manner. One of the common requests we hear from customers is that they need the occasional reminder and inspiration to recognize their staff.  Managers today are busier than ever and employee recognition sometimes gets dropped to the end of the priority list. When you do have time to recognize, its sometimes a challenge to come up with a great reason on the spot.

Thank You in Sign Language

Photo courtesy of adihrespati on Flickr

Today we found a great online guide from Texas A&M’s HR department on Ideas for Low-Cost/No-Cost Employee Recognition.  We encourage you to check out the full list of 63 ideas on their website, but here are our ten favorite creative reasons to recognize your employees:

Ten Creative Employee Recognition Ideas from Texas A&M:

  1. Encourage and recognize staff who pursue continuing education.
  2. Establish a “Behind the Scenes” award specifically for those whose actions are not usually in the limelight.
  3. Have a recognition event/award created by a peer group that decides what they will give and why they will give it.
  4. If you have a department newsletter, publish a “kudos” column and ask for nominations throughout the department.
  5. Post a thank you note on an employee’s office door or cubicle.
  6. Publicly recognize the positive impact on operations of the solutions employees devise for problems.
  7. Recognize employees who actively serve the community.
  8. When you hear a positive remark about someone, repeat it to that person as soon as possible in person or electronically.
  9. Give a membership or subscription to a journal that relates to employee work.
  10. Find ways to reward department-specific performance.

If you’re looking for solutions to help with administering the employee recognition program at your office, consider MeritShare. We specialize in converting offline recognition programs (bulletin boards, monthly newsletters and company meetings) to online recognition programs (recognition communities, social sharing of awards and real-time notifications and nominations). We have a free version that teams can try out with no obligation, and a premium version that offers full employee recognition and employee engagement analytics for organization executives and admins for very reasonable rates.