An E-newsletter for TEA Members
|January 5, 2017
||Volume 37, Issue 1
Be sure to register early to receive
early bird pricing for these January program.
Click on dates for more information or refer to our upcoming event listing here.
The above links brings you to our NEW store-front, requiring a new login process. This information was emailed to our primary contacts last Fall. Contact
- Check back often to view our 2017 programs.
If you are interested in a program not currently scheduled, email
to be added to our future registration list.
Attention Lakeshore Members
Leadership Programs offered in Holland - Davenport University
This course provides an overview of critical leadership skills needed by team leaders/supervisors and those desiring to take on leadership responsibilities. The topics discussed include how to deal with the challenges of supervising former co-workers, positively representing the organization, managing different personalities, and holding people accountable.
Core Leadership Skills
Every other Friday
2/10 - 3/24/2017
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
This series consists of 4 full-day sessions and is geared to those who currently lead others. Participants will learn leadership skills that can be applied immediately. Through a combination of hands-on coursework, assessments, case studies, and presentations, participants will leave the sessions eager to practice new skills and strive for greater success.
HRG January Meeting
Social Media - The Pro's the Con's and the Legal Pitfalls
Presenter: Gregory P. Ripple, Miller Johnson Attorney
January 19, 2017
Watermark Country Club
7:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
More details to follow.
HRCI Year-Round Testing Is Here
Fitting your certification exam schedule into a testing window is now a thing of the past. HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®) now provides year-round testing - an HR industry first. As of November 1, 2016, all certification exams are now available on any day of the year.
Not sure when to sit for the exam?
TEA sponsors the exam prep program through our "sister" association in Raleigh, North Carolina (
Capital Associated Industries - CAI
). Check schedules here.
Reminder - Members receive $50 off exam fee.
Questions? Contact your HRCI Concierge Nella Deaza at
571-551-6725 and be sure to mention you are a member of The Employers' Association!
|From the President - Incentive Bonus Plans
by David Smith, CEO & President
Providing competitive pay and benefits to an employee in exchange for the performance of an assigned task or duty is important - particularly when attracting employees to work for you - but it is rarely the most critical aspect in regards to retaining and rewarding top talent. Providing "across the board" pay increases on an annual basis can distribute budgeted funds in a predictable, consistent manner but such systems tend to attract (and retain) acceptable employees rather than attracting and retaining the highest quality employee possible. Providing "spot bonuses" or rewarding exceptional results with unexpected payments can lift an employee's spirits for a short time but typically fail to produce long-term changes in behavior. In order to link performance to rewards - to encourage employees to work smarter (returning more dollars on your payroll investment) rather than working harder (expending more time and effort that must be compensated), a business owner should give strong consideration to the development and implementation of an Incentive Bonus Program that rewards employees at all levels of the organization proportionate to the results they produce.
There are several distinct and different Incentive Bonus Plan structures. These bonus types can be summarized as follows:
- Discretionary Bonus Plans that provide "spot" rewards or non-defined bonuses to employees in an attempt to reward an employee (or an entire workforce) for what is perceived to be exceptional behavior. While such plans provide a short-term benefit (an individual or group of individuals is rewarded for an accomplishment that can be defined and discussed), they do not typically incentivize employees to change their behavior since they cannot anticipate what must be done in the future to receive a reward.
- "Gainsharing" Plans are established to encourage continuous improvement. A bonus, or pool of dollars, is set-aside to reward employees based on productivity and/or profitability improvement. If job-related activities can be tied to the bottom line (i.e., reduced scrap, increased efficiency, more product in less time, etc.) and attributed to the efforts of each individual (i.e., you can measure your change), these plans can increase productivity but if poorly conceived and/or communicated, can de-motivate employees whom feel their productivity targets are constantly increasing and can create a situation that produces a bonus if less money was lost than anticipated.
- Profit Sharing Plans link bonus distribution with company (and/or departmental) profitability. Developing a strong, understandable profit sharing plan necessitates the sharing of confidential financial information with employees. If an organization is unwilling or unable to share financials with employees, a huge credibility gap may exist between employees and Management that could doom such a plan to failure. ALSO, with either Gainsharing or Profit Sharing, employees need to receive a distribution relatively quickly, regardless of actual results, goals may be considered as being unattainable.
- Non-Monetary Award Plans include rewards such as gift cards, restaurant certificates, thank you notes and company identity items. These items, while not costly, can provide great benefits if rewarded publicly and a clear, concise accounting of WHY the item is being awarded and WHAT result or action generated its being given. Organizations choosing to utilize non-monetary rewards should be cognizant of potential discriminatory motivations or perceived favoritism or any positive benefit will be lost.
- Performance Bonus Plans typically tie some form of "extra compensation" to the accomplishment of results that are beyond communicated expectations. Such bonus plans might be tied to profitability (such as Profit Sharing or Gainsharing Plans) but are not necessarily linked to the generation of net revenue. Should an employee accomplish defined goals and meet pre-determined expectations, he or she would receive a pre-determined bonus payment. Since expectations are not the same for all employees (i.e., expectations for a janitor are usually different than those for the Vice President of Operations), such plans necessarily create bonus value variance that may give the impression that "those that have get more." ALSO, if employees establish their own goals, payment of bonus may not be tied to organizational profitability...if management establishes goals, employee may feel that the target was set at an impossible to achieve level. Plans based on performance MUST link the organization's mission, vision and sustainability to the successful accomplishment of established goals or it will not adequately motivate employees.
- Blended Bonus Plans are the most, easily communicated way to incentivize a workforce and reward individual performance while assuring that profitability is maintained. Blended systems reward individual performance, recognize the contribution that each job has to the organization's bottom line (as determined by the relative importance each job has been rated to possess), and acknowledge effort that may not result in immediate reward due to factors outside of the individual's control.
In order to effectively manage any bonus plan, several factors must be present. First, some kind of structure or system should be in place that acknowledges the different impact each job has in fulfilling the organization's mission. Companies should have a formal JOB CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM with PAY GRADES or LEVELS being assigned so the employer can fairly and equitably recognize each individual's contribution to the production of a product or the delivery of a service. The best (and easiest) way to recognize this individual contribution is to link bonus dollars with pay. If a portion of bonus is determined by each employee's "relative worth" to the organization (as defined by his or her rate of pay), then individuals being appropriately paid more will receive a larger bonus. (The distribution of pay in this manner is inappropriate for organizations that recognize and acknowledge tenure as the driver in compensation distribution. Such organizations reward time in grade rather than productivity...length of service rather than quality/efficiency of work...and cannot utilize base rates inflated by time to be the drivers of pay-based bonus systems.)
Secondly, individual performance should be considered when distributing bonus monies. Having a strong performance management system that is consistently applied across the organization is important if performance is to be a measured (and rewarded) factor. Supervisors or managers measuring performance against different standards or seeking to avoid confrontation with their employees will negate the benefits of incentivizing performance. If not goals and/or measured performance, factors that can be influenced and controlled by the individual should be used to drive this component. (Reduction of scrap, time to perform and activity, or lessening of returns for rework are specific activities that could be rewarded.)
Thirdly, a Discretionary component should be considered when designing a Performance Incentive Plan. Sometimes, regardless of how hard someone works or what great gains are made during the year, factors outside of the individual's control may result in either an inferior result or a reduced profit. Retaining a minimal portion of the Bonus for discretionary distribution (perhaps no more that 10% of the total bonus potential) will reward effort as well as results.
Fourthly, any bonus SHOULD recognize that business is in existence to make a profit, NOT to provide jobs. Many blended plans will REDUCE the full bonus potential of an individual based on the Organization's ability to achieve a profit. Often organizations will provide 100% of an individual's bonus potential if budgeted profitability is achieved and reduce the potential by a defined percentage whenever a profit is achieved BUT at a lower return than was budgeted.
Bonus plans should be designed to incentivize performance that is ABOVE AND BEYOND the expectations of a job.
Incentivizing someone to perform no more than the basic expectations of their job would be anti-productive. Individuals should be paid to work and incentivized to work more efficiently. Employees should be paid to work hard and incentivized to work smart. Employers should attract new employees with competitive pay and bonus programs, retaining them through the establishment of a culture that encourages excellence by rewarding efforts and activities. Recognizing what behaviors we want to replicate as being critical to the organization's success is the key to establishing an effective Incentive Bonus Program. Understanding how to properly distribute pay to those being rewarded (so as to avoid excessive tax liabilities) is also important for both your employees and the Organization.
The main purpose of a business is NOT to provide jobs but rather to produce a quality product or deliver a valuable service while generating enough reward (profit) to justify a business owner's personal (financial) risk. Developing systems that link profitability, performance and innovation to individual rewards will help create "winning" workplace environments that allow employees to share in gains (as well as pains) and successes (as well as shortcomings) by earning incentive compensation for exceeding performance expectations within their profitable employer.
Give us a call at The Employers' Association (616.698.1167) or contact me at email@example.com to learn more about "pay at risk" and incentive bonus plans. Our mission is to promote operational excellence and ensure business sustainability. We accomplish this goal by helping members focus on profits by adequately (and appropriately) understanding risk and managing talent
Visit our BLOG (
) to view
Welcome New Members
The new members listed below represent employers within the West Michigan area who have joined the ranks of those committed to strong, positive employee/employer relations. It is a pleasure to welcome these new members into our TEA(M).
*Holland Litho Service
*Michigan Foam Products
*Thornapple Credit Union
UPDATE - New Website with Member Engagement Tools
TEA's primary contacts were emailed last Fall regarding the new store-front process for ordering training registrations, surveys, posters or paying for membership dues. They were also given their personal login details to access that information. If that email was not received, or there are questions, please contact Penny.
Clarification needed - there have been many questions regarding the login process. Please note the login
at the top of TEA's website is the old/standard login and used to view members only
content pages (login - tea / password - HR1stcall). The new login is used only when prompted for enrollment of classes, purchase of surveys/posters or to view your new TEA account and pay membership dues. Each person will have their own account and login information - but only those designated by your organization will have access to sensitive information (i.e survey reports). Once we have moved completely into our new website, this will be the only login used.
We will continue to update you as we make progress. We thank you for your patience as we strive to serve you better! As always, please contact us at 616.698.1167 if you have any questions.
2017 Standard Mileage Rates for Business, Medical and Moving Announced
The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2017 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.
Considering a Human Resources Certification in 2017? Attend a FREE Webinar to Learn "What It's All About"
Are you thinking about getting your aPHR™ or PHR® or SPHR® certification? Wondering how the certification will help your career and trying to figure out the best way to prepare to pass the rigorous exam?
Then attend a
FREE one-hour LIVE webinar
to meet the instructor, David Siler, SPHR, GPHR, HRBP, HRMP, Managing Partner of Distinctive HR, Inc. David's PHR®/SPHR® students have an extremely impressive pass rate of more than 90%, while the national pass rates in the most recent test period was around 50% for both exams.
Some of the many questions answered in this session will include:
- What are the benefits of achieving your HR certification?
- What are the eligibility requirements to sit for the exams?
- Who is David Siler? Why is his pass rate so much higher than the average pass rate?
- What makes this study course the best one to register for?
- What tools and resources do you provide to help me pass the exam?
- How are the aPHR™/PHR®/SPHR® test questions developed?
- Do you help me with test-taking tips?
- When and where do I sign up to take the exam?
- How do I maintain my certification once I get my designation?
This webinar (and prep courses) are offered through our
"sister" association in Raleigh, North Carolina (
Capital Associated Industries - CAI
). Visit their website for more details and schedules
What Organizational Project Do I Need to Tackle in 2017?
by Ron Scott, SPHR, Director of Member Engagement
The Human Resources function usually runs in a reactive mode as all organizations have ongoing (and continuous) needs for new employees, changes in policies / procedures and the development / facilitation of training programs for specific or managerial needs. When we reflect on the work we wanted to finish in 2016 we might become discouraged because of the lack of time and priority those projects received as the year progressed. Sure, much was accomplished BUT not necessarily the vital projects that should have been completed, the infrastructure that might have been strengthened or the training that could have been administered to promote operational excellence.
As we look forward to 2017, the challenges are going to be similar to last year. Employment is going to continue to be our biggest challenge. Finding the right people for the right job at the right cost is tough when qualified candidates are plentiful (which, unfortunately, is not a reflection of today's economy). Keeping and engaging our workforce will still be a challenge (particularly for organizations that have not recognized that employees today are "different" than in the past, requiring different rewards, recognition and responsibilities to provide required results). Designing a workforce development plan will be essential for people to perform at a higher level this year. Daily activities are critical to sustainability but take the challenge in 2017 to look at the needs of your organization from a highly functioning Human Resources perspective. Make plans for the New Year (write them down and share them with another...we too often forget or fail to prioritize those things we say to ourselves) that involve proactively investing time, talent and resources into the growth of your employees, the refinement of your practices and the implementation of a competitive compensation program this coming year. AS YOU PLAN, remember some of the resources that The Employers' Association has to offer as you seek to remain integral within your Management Team.
Competitive pay programs are essential for good stewardship, retention and motivation for the current team members. Use of TEA's wage/salary, policies/practices, benefits and key metrics
to ensure internal equity and external competitiveness by bench marking your total compensation structure against appropriate West Michigan, Regional and National Market Data. Developing a defensible
Program that utilized strong benchmark data to establish external competitiveness while creating a structure that ensures internal equity is a "turn-key" activity that The Association can help you to install during 2017.
When sticky employee relations situations occur, it is helpful to have a Human Resources
available to validate your intended action OR to help develop practical alternatives that will provide the best possible outcomes. Call TEA to discuss your situation and help you think about things you could, should (or sometimes, should not) do while working through your situation. Get quick, accurate practical answers to your organizational, management and human resource-related issues by relying upon our Helpline in 2017.
Planning for organizational development through the development and administration of highly interactive training programs is essential for both organizational success and employee engagement. TEA's
can help you maximize each employee's contribution to your bottom line by providing Leadership, Human Resources, Safety, Communications and Customer Service training either through our
public training offerings
OR through programs conducted
at your site
addressing specific issues that you may encounter.
The Association can also
develop pay for performance systems, organizational development/needs analysis, employee coaching /mentoring, employee engagement/opinion surveys, handbook reviews HR audits and loss control consultation. We recognize the important role you play in making your organization more profitable and have worked within the West Michigan community for nearly 80 years to promote operational excellence. We offer
through screening /interviewing assistance, pre-employment (aptitude and personality) testing and background /reference checking services.
Finally, do not forget to develop yourself in the coming year. TEA provides HR Professionals with
at our monthly round table meetings (HR, Talent Attraction and Safety), the chance to exchange information and ideas at our Human Resources Group of West Michigan (HRG is a SHRM Chapter) meeting featuring outstanding speakers and topics AND HR-related training, legislative updates and compliance updates that provide ongoing PHR, SPHR and a-PHR certification credits.
The most important part of planning is looking far enough into the next year that you can make a plan for Human Resources that will benefit the organization while positively impacting the bottom line yet being prepared far enough ahead to include the key players who will benefit (and contribute) the most. The sooner the planning starts, the more time you have to arrange priorities for the coming year. Let us be your support partner in 2017 as you build upon your accomplishments from 2016. Please contact us (or access our website,
) if you have any questions or would like help in developing a comprehensive (and actionable) plan.
Does it Matter What You Think?
, SPHR, Director of Learning & Inclusion
Attitude makes all the difference. We often hear people say this but do you believe it? Do you believe that looking for the good in things increases the likelihood of finding the good in them or that expecting something bad to occur will change how you respond when a bad thing happens? There are a number of researchers who have studied how our expectations affect our behaviors, impact our immediate decisions and help determine our future choices. These beliefs and choices drive our careers, relationships, and interests.
For many of us, when we reflect on our attitudes we realize that, "
daily interactions and
future interests and aspirations." This is known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe something (good or bad) will happen and I do things that cause or increase the chance of those things happening. Research also tells us that our beliefs could influence the behaviors and actions of
. If I believe that an employee is intelligent, motivated, and can achieve great things in our organization, might my beliefs increase the likelihood that the employee will be great? Alternatively, if I believe that another employee is lazy, difficult to work with, and will not last long in the organization, might my negative beliefs drive an employee down or out of the organization? The answer to both questions is a resounding "YES, my beliefs about another can have profound impact on their behavior (good or bad)."
This impact is heightened when a person has power and authority. Much of the early research regarding these phenomenon were done in the classroom with teachers and students. Teachers that knew they were receiving students others thought of as "high achievers" often set higher expectations on them than those who exhibited behavior or learning difficulties in the past. Teachers that knew nothing about student histories tended to treat them "more equally." The influence of others does not end in childhood, though. Research with adults in the workplace has found the same results. Leaders can make or break an employee's experience in the workplace depending on the expectations or beliefs that he or she expresses about an individual's likelihood of success.
Having a positive influence on an employee is an example of the Pygmalion effect - employees live up to the expectations that are expressed to them. The Golem effect is the other side of the equation - when employees live
to your expectations as they know you will not expect or encourage more. Our actions are not always consciously exhibited so leaders (team leads, trainers, supervisors, managers, etc.) must be intentional when working with others as they have more of an impact than most think about. While the beliefs of the leader are not the only determinants of success or failure, it is important to remember that what you think as a leader impacts how you interact with employees (AND how they interact with others or respond to work assignments and expectations). Your interactions reinforce your expectations with the employee and thus employees alter their behavior to receive rewards and positive recognition within these interactions. In that life tends to be cyclical, the employee's behavior likely reinforces the leader's original feelings which will be reinforced and returned. The cycle looks something like this:
- The Leader's beliefs about employees influence...
- The Leader's actions toward employees which impacts...
- The Employee's belief about their own capabilities which cause...
- The employee's actions at work and drive...
- The employee's outcomes at work that reinforce...point #1
Although much of the research regarding self-fulfilling prophecies has been done with school-age children and their teachers, there exists interesting research with military cadets, welders, and many other adults that supports the results found within education. The researchers pre-test participants and then tell the leaders which individuals tested the highest (or lowest) for indicators of success. The researchers then observe and record what happens in the interactions between the leaders and employees. The results are the same - those that were said to have the highest potential do the best and those that were said to be most challenged do poorly. The important thing is that in the studies there typically was no "pre-test." The subjects are randomly selected from the group and the leader's behavior difference is driven simply by the fact that the leader believed the employees would succeed (or not). More time is spent with those identified as having high potential and more acceptance of mistakes or average work for the "best" (knowing that more will be coming) allowing stronger relationships to be developed. Those "pre-destined" to fail were given fewer chances and less attention.
There is a reason why people say that employees do not leave an organization, "they leave their supervisor." We have seen that leaders who do a great job developing employees and building strong relationships have people who "want" to work for them. It is not uncommon that when a leader transfers to another part of the organization employees are willing to transfer with them to continue working with that leader. These leaders understand the power of expectations and how to harness them to strengthen their employees and organization.
The Employers' Association has helped West Michigan employers develop strong leaders (from technically competent achievers) since 1939. We are excited to launch our
Introduction to Leadership and Core Leadership Skills
to help exceptional employees enter management by helping them transition from "doer" to "leader." These programs provide participants with basic Leadership skills inclusive of:
- Setting and communicating appropriate goals and expectations
- Providing adequate and targeted feedback
- Identifying and working with different DiSC styles
- Refining communication skills
- Techniques to engage and reward employees
- Coaching employees for improved performance
- Developing and fostering effective teamwork
- Documenting and delivering corrective actions
If you are interested in learning more about TEA's
please contact Jason Reep at
Surveys - THE Tool for the New Year
TEA would like to be sure you are "armed" with all the right tools to start the New Year off on the right foot - and to help kick start those HR projects you have made resolutions to complete heading in the right direction. In order to be competitive, however, you need to know what practices the business community around you is adhering to and what they are paying.
can help you to figure that out - and TEA has West Michigan surveys AND the experienced professionals help determine what is best for your company.
Surveys continue to be one of the most valued services we provide to West Michigan business, having conducted comprehensive surveys for nearly 80 years as a trusted partner to members here in West Michigan. Our two primary surveys, the Wage & Salary Survey and the Policies & Benefits Survey, are available to participants at no cost and to members that were too busy to participate at a discounted rate.
Wage & Salary Survey
is a tool used by many of our members for their compensation planning. Having conducted the survey since 1939, we have many repeat participants (helping to establish relevant trend information from year to year) AND a good demographic mix of participants (our most recent survey (2016 - 2017) has 219 participating companies in 354 different jobs within 17 job families). Surveys are only as good as the data that goes into them, and the data collected to compile our surveys comes from YOU, our members. Your support of these projects through participation is vital and is what makes the surveys the superior product they are.
Policy and Benefits Survey
is the other "mainstay" of our survey series. Our 2016 survey had 113 participating members with data on 37 different topics within seven different policy and benefit areas.
The Association also compiles a
Healthcare and Medical Plan Cost Survey
(with 97 participants) each year recording plan features, premium rates and cost sharing options - no easy task in this day of fluid plans. Beyond these TEA also has an additional survey tools to assist you, including but not limited to:
- Local Holiday Survey
- Local Pay Trends Survey (what percent of pay increase are companies giving)
- National Business Trends
- Local Business Trends Survey (what are companies expecting for business growth)
- National Executive Compensation Survey (to complement our local executive survey)
- National Wage & Salary Survey (excellent for recruiting from other parts of the country)
If you need a special cut from a survey or have a hybrid job, call us and we will work with you to get the relevant data you need to solve your issues. For more information please contact Maggie (
) or Marla (
) in the Information Services Department at TEA. We wish you a truly awesome New Year to you from all of us at The Association.
Telephone Interviewing: Tips for Employers
by Rob Strate, SPHR, Director of HR Services
One of our newer members recently called to ask advice on their employee selection process. The company was recruiting for an office administration position and after receiving over 75 resumes, 10 of them landed in the "yes" pile. I strongly suggested that they first conduct telephone screening interviews in order to narrow the field to a manageable number of perhaps 3 or 4 candidates. Here are my suggestions for information employers should be looking for about candidates before bringing them in for face to face interviews:
- Make sure the candidate is sane and reasonably intelligent. Better to find out over the telephone rather than in the first five minutes of a live interview that the person falls short in these two areas.
- Check on basic logistics. Is the candidate available fairly quickly or is he/she planning to take a two-month trip overseas in a few weeks? Other logistics questions at this stage can be over whether relocation is needed, the commute time to and from work, and what hours or shift the person is available.
- Find out about salary expectations. If the job pays $35k per year and the candidate is looking for double that amount, it's better to find out as early on in the recruitment process as possible.
- Check the candidate's understanding of the job. Does the candidate think there will be no travel involved when the job requires considerable work out of town? Will the work environment be a desk on the shop floor when the person applying expects a private office? It's obviously more efficient to find out answers to those questions now rather than when you've set aside time for an in-person meeting.
- Clear up any questions about the resume. For example, how much time did the candidate actually spend working with a software program that is a critical job requirement? How about that mysterious two-year gap after college or employment dates that overlap or raise other questions?
- Start to probe into job skills and experience. The answers to behavioral interview questions such as "tell me about a time when you and your boss didn't see eye to eye," or "tell me about a time when you came up with a new approach for tackling a difficult problem," can give great insight into how the candidate will behave if hired in your organization.
- See if anything obvious takes the candidate out of the running. The reason behind conducting telephone interviews is to narrow down the number of applicants by making good decisions on who should and should not be brought in for the face to face interview. Candidates that sound low-energy, unfriendly, distracted, or simply unprofessional, or if they chronically interrupt or don't communicate clearly, may be reasons to relegate the resume that once resided in the "yes" pile straight to the "no" pile.
to hiring managers on
employee selection and interviewing skills
and can provide assistance to members in preparing for and conducting
. For more information, contact Rob Strate at
or call 616.698.1167.
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This newsletter is published at 5570 Executive Parkway SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan as a general information service to all members and offers data from many sources. It is not designed to render legal advice or opinion. Such advice may only be given when related to actual situations. Our staff can assist you in interpreting and applying this information to your needs. For questions or replies to this newsletter, email
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