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Win a Room at the Hyatt Regency for HR TechXpo

Posted By NCHRA Marketing Team, Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Discover the intersection between HR and Tech at the HR TechXpo!

Join in on our Twitter Contest! #HRTechXpo #HR and #HRTech 

Help us create buzz about the event on Twitter and you could win a beautiful room at the Hyatt Regency (San Francisco - our event location!) for the Thursday night before HR TechXpo on Friday, August 19th.

Starting now until 12pm noon on Wednesday (8/17), whoever tweets the most qualifying tweets will be the winner. We will notify the winner by or before 8/18.

A qualifying tweet has to include:

1) The hashtag #HRTechXpo
2) The event website URL:
3) 1 of these 3 additional hashtags: #HR, #HRtech, #ATD

Get tweeting and best of luck!

Make sure you "Like" us on Facebook and "Follow" us on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest news from NCHRA.

Tags:  conference  Contest  HR  HR tech  human resources  marketing 

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Employees Aren’t Taking Time Off. Here’s What We Can Do.

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Monday, May 9, 2016
Updated: Saturday, May 7, 2016

By Ben Mueller • Namely 

Time off is a busy HR intersection where personal lives cross paths with business productivity, and trust in your company culture must be the guiding traffic light. Is it any wonder so many employees and companies end up stalled? A new survey released by Namely may reveal the true conflict: Employees want to take time off, but they’re simply not doing it.

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Our recent survey of 471 employed adults in the U.S. revealed that paid time off is the most important employee benefit for several employees. 1 in 5 are willing to give up a higher salary for more PTO or an unlimited policy. Furthermore, 87% of employees rated PTO policies a high priority when evaluating a new job’s benefits and compensation package—with over half calling PTO “very critical.” And just how much time off do people plan on taking? Over half of employees plan on 15 days or more of paid time off this year, with 20% planning on taking more than 20 days.

So, what’s the kicker of it all? Those carefree summer days and summer nights just aren’t coming to fruition.

The average American only took 11 vacation days in 2015 according to another recent survey. That’s a full 4 to 9 planned days that are going unused by employees—and sometimes more. According to Namely’s survey, over half of employees claim they typically book a week or more of time off in advance. But in reality, the average duration of a time off request is just 2.34 days according to data collected from the Namely platform.

It’s no secret that America comes in last among advanced economies in terms of mandated vacation days, with several American workers charting up their weekly hours worked like badges of honor. But what does it say when there’s a very real, collective misconception of the time that employees plan on taking—time that 57% of employees answered they would use for spending time with family—that they don’t really take? Is it a simple failure of wishful thinking? Or should we point the blame in the other direction—back on HR and the company itself?

I’ve Got the Power

We asked Matt Straz, Founder and CEO of Namely, to weigh-in on the trend. “What this tells us is that despite the best intentions to take large chunks of time away from work and unplug from technology, employees are feeling confined and are using vacation time differently than previous generations,” he said. “The result is shorter, more frequent bursts of vacation time requested last minute, which means it’s even more critical for today’s employees and HR departments to effectively communicate to mitigate any business impact.”

The biggest preventer of PTO, according to Namely’s recent survey, comes as no surprise: rigid company policies (26%). That is followed in close second by “stress at the thought of missing time at work” (21%). Both of those issues fall squarely in HR’s camp—policy and culture.

There’s no right answer to just how much PTO is appropriate for today’s working professional. Any thought leader will throw out any number of days, and the answer will vary greatly from employee to employee, as Namely’s survey recently ratified. But what organizations can do is empower their people. They can remove the barriers that stop employees from taking the time off that they do plan to take—the time off they need to stay happy and engaged. HR can truly create a better managed, more human workplace where employees are at the very least empowered to work in the very way they see fit. Here’s how.

1. Codify your culture’s expectations around time off and share them in an understandable way with people managers and employees.

According to data from the Namely platform, employees on “unlimited” time off plans only average one more vacation day per year than those employees on “limited” plans. That means HR and managers need to be clear about the time off they expect employees to take annually—no matter what kind of plan is in place. And employees take cues from their managers. For instance, 53 percent of managers surveyed by Project: Time Off admit they set a bad example for using time off for employees.

It’s HR’s responsibility to sit down and review or update vacation policies. Send an updated version of the employee handbook to employees, or schedule a lunch and learn for sections of the company to learn about new changes. Don’t forget to update career web pages and job boards with the changes so candidates are familiar with time off policies before they’re in the door. Put the information in many different forms and many different places so employees can’t miss it.

2. Utilize mobile HR for time off requests.

An easy fix for giving employees more power to easily request time off is to give them a mobile app for sending in their requests right when they’re thinking of them. According to Namely’s survey, 76% of all employees would use a mobile app to access a company’s HR tools like time off requests—and millennials are 20% more likely to gravitate towards using an app.

Kathryn Goodick, HR Director at SwervePoint, uses the Namely mobile app at her company. “Our employees are thrilled to now be able to submit time off requests from their mobile devices,” she says, “and it gives me and our managers greater visibility into our employees’ plans at any time.”

When employees have the capability right at their fingertips to better manage their vacations, you’re one step closer to helping give them the work-life balance they desire.

3. Manage a flexible time off policy with all-in-one HR technology.

No matter what exact time off policy your culture settles on, it needs to be flexible enough to support everyone at your company. But the reason several companies don’t implement more innovative policies is simple: they’re harder for HR to manage. Docking employee requests against a bank of 10 days per year sure is easier than handling random requests on the fly and totaling them with an unlimited plan.

When you use HR technology to keep all of your employee data in one place, all of that becomes easier. “This is where HR technology becomes about more than performance reviews, and actually about helping employees manage work-life integration,” says Matt Straz. Imagine time off requests filtering into a company calendar so everyone can keep track of who’s in and who’s out. Also, when payroll, performance, and time off are all managed in one place, you instantly see the full picture of how an employee contributes to your org and interacts with his or her team.

Just like innovative software and tech companies need the best tools to create the future of technology, your culture needs the right tools in order to create an innovative culture. Don’t go it alone and instead get the HR tech you need.

4. Fill in the gaps by cultivating a culture that cares about people.

If employees aren’t taking the time off they need to, there might not be an issue with policy. The issue might be a bit greater one—company culture.

Consider how other facets of your culture may influence how your employees feel about work. The 2015 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index survey found that 52 percent of respondents feel they can’t even get up to take a break in a regular workday. Furthermore, about four out of 10 work on weekends at least once a month.

But managers know their employees need breaks! In the Project: Time Off survey, 80 percent of managers said that using vacation time is important to maintain team energy levels, and 74 percent said it gives employees better attitudes. So if people at your company are overworked and overlooking their time away from the grind, let them know where your culture stands. Whether that’s in daily breaks, organized lunch hours, no-work weekends, or email curfews—fill in the gaps between those vacation days with breaths of fresh air.

Managing time off doesn’t need to be as tedious as a traffic jam. With the right tech in place to empower your performers—and a "people-centric" culture founded on trust—you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get your whole company cruising down a productive, well-balanced road.

Learn more about Namely's mobile app in the App Store!


About the Author
Ben Mueller is a Content Writer at Namely, the all-in-one HR, payroll, and benefits platform built for today's employees. 

NCHRA 2016 Platinum Sponsor
Namely believes everyone deserves a great workplace—supported by easy-to-use HR technology. That’s why Namely is the HR, Payroll, and Benefits platform your employees will love. Namely allows you to manage all of your HR data in one place, with personalized service to help your company get better, faster. We're here to give mid-sized companies the software and support they need to evolve their company cultures, engage their employees, and always deliver great HR.

Tags:  HR  HR Tech  human resources  namely  namely mobile app  NCHRA  paid time off  survey 

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What can we learn from learning professionals?

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Friday, April 29, 2016

By Karen Rodriguez - Exec|Comm

Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.

-- Mahatma Gandhi

Our recent discussion with a dynamic group of learning and development professionals, from various industries, focused on how to sustain adult learning in business. Some of the key areas of the conversation centered on practicing skills, modeling to change behavior, and getting buy-in from leadership. All of which are important aspects of sustaining learning.

We asked.
They answered!

What can you do to ingrain skills and encourage a culture of practice?

Time your training with implementation.
Business professionals are more successful when they have real-life application shortly after learning a new skill.  We recommend you learn, practice, reflect and implement within two weeks.

Create a regular time to practice.
Whether you offer it weekly or bi-weekly, set up a room where people can practice their skills and hear peer feedback. This is most beneficial for soft skills like presentation skills.

End training programs with goal-setting. 
Have the attendees set at least one S.M.A.R.T. goal and discuss it with their manager. Add the goal to their performance review to create accountability.

Create peer groups or buddies.
Everyone is more successful with an accountability buddy. Schedule social engagements for the groups to meet and build a true support system.

How can you use role models to change the behavior of others?

Create a mentoring program.
Have the c-suite and senior leaders mentor newer associates for at least a year.  The mentor will impart job knowledge, but they will also support professional growth. 

Interview top level executives.

The interviews should focus on why the training is important. The leaders can share best practices, case studies, and challenges. Show the interviews during leadership training to put the skills in real world business scenarios.

Train your leaders to be trainers. 
Have the business leaders in your organization participate in the training and deliver key sections. By modeling the behavior and tying the content back to the business they will increase participant engagement and create accountability.

How do you get leadership to buy in to and commit to learning and sustaining skills?

Clear the employee’s calendar.
When an employee is scheduled to attend training, encourage their manager to treat the training time with the same level of importance as any other business meeting. Create a policy if you can.

Run a session for managers.
Prior to the employee’s training, run a session with his or her manager to outline what the employee will learn and explain how the manager can be supportive. This will help create buy-in.

Tie training to competencies.
Offer training courses linked to areas for development.  As you approach yearly performance reviews, give managers a listing of courses tied to competencies. This will help them get involved in the employee’s professional development.

Link training to company goals.
Offer workshops that support the focus of the organization. This helps you gain support from leadership.

What advice do you have to sustain learning in adults?


About the Author

Karen Rodriguez is a passionate marketer, designer, and communicator. With over 15 years of experience, Karen manages Exec|Comm’s global brand including their online presence, web-based learning center, advertising, PR, classroom materials, and live special events. She manages the firm’s blog, The Chat, and lunch & learn series, The Learning Exchange as well as the delivery and expansion of Exec|Comm’s open-enrollment seminars in Chicago, Dallas, New York, San Francisco, and San Jose. Karen holds a BFA from Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City.  She lives in Aberdeen, NJ, with her husband and three sons.


Tags:  Employee Training  Exec-Comm  HR  HR Management  Human Resources  Karen Rodriguez  Learning Professionals 

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Ready to Manage Up & Improve Your Executive Presence?

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Thursday, April 14, 2016

By Patrick Reilly, 

Patrick Reilly will present Demonstrating Executive Presence and Managing Up, on Tuesday, April 19th, 9:30-3:30, in the NCHRA Training Room (San Francisco). Register today.

Today’s world of work is not the same as yesterday’s. Due primarily to the speed of change and the abundance of information managers often need to successfully manage their own boss and other leaders higher in the organization. Just yesterday, I was with a client who needed to influence her boss, the new COO, to make some changes. She has superior domain expertise and organizational knowledge and needed to influence him to take the right action. This happens every day in all organizations.

Aside from her knowledge and subject matter expertise she needed to access her executive presence to succeed and influence her boss. What is executive presence? We all talk about the need to have it, but very few can seem to define it. We can.

In order to build your executive presence it helps to know what it is. Executive presence is comprised of three core elements: how you act (gravitas), how you speak (communication) and how you look (appearance). It can also be described as consisting of the skillful application of emotional intelligence and the effective presentation of your professional skills.

At the higher level of organizations and especially with Boards, executive presence is an essential success factor. Our model provides a concrete set of criteria so that leaders can clearly identify areas of focus and potential action. What we’ve discovered, through research and experience, is that we are evaluating the executive presence of others and ourselves in the following ways: 

1. Confidence – Can I share my point of view well?

2. Competence – Am I competent in my domain of technical expertise and able to communicate it effectively, especially to those who are not as expert in this area?

3. Courage  – Do I have the courage to take a stand for the things I believe in? Take well informed risks and drive change?

4. Calmness under Pressure – Can I project a sense of calm and poise regardless of the circumstances?

5. Credibility (Balance) – Do I have a balanced approach that includes being both assertive and results oriented while being compassionate and having empathy for others?

6. Reliably deliver results  – Do I provide quality results in a timely fashion?

7.  Clarity and Crispness – Is my communication in speaking and writing clear, crisp and succinct? Do I have the tone and timbre in my voice that makes others want to listen?

8.  Connection – Do I have strong relationships with people at all levels of the organization.? Do others see me as an effective listener, authentic, and approachable?

9.  Appearance – Do I fit in with peers and those one level up.? Do I dress professionally for my company and in line with today’s standards? Do I exhibit good manners, use appropriate language and employ good grammar?

Where are your executive presence strengths? Where are your challenges? Is it time for you to find out more?

About the Author
Patrick Reilly is President of Resources In Action, Inc. He has worked extensively with international leaders in the health care, financial services, technology, and utility sectors for more than 25 years. His passion is getting leaders into action for success and satisfaction. Patrick has a BA in Psychology from Tufts University and an MA in Organizational Development from the JFK School of Management. He is a Certified Master Business Coach through Leadership University. He previously served on the Board of the Professional Coaches and Mentors Organization. He currently is the marketing leader for Alexcel, a group of senior executive coaches. 

Join Patrick's seminar, Demonstrating Executive Presence and Managing Up Tuesday April 19, 2016, NCHRA training room, 9:30a.m. Sign up

Tags:  business coaching  executive coach  executive communication  executive presence  hr  human resources  NCHRA  Patrick Reilly  personal reputation  public relations 

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Top 5 Ways for Organizations to Handle Negative Employee Feedback

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Thursday, April 7, 2016

97% believe that negative feedback from employees can be useful.

Waggl, a digital platform that offers companies a simple way to surface and distill real-time actionable feedback, recently designed an ongoing research project called The Voice of the Workplace. Waggl goes beyond the traditional survey by offering an extremely easy way to listen to many voices at once within an organization for the purpose of making it better. Its real-time listening platform creates a transparent, authentic two-way dialogue that gives people a voice, distills insights, and unites organizations through purpose.

This latest Voice of the Workplace survey was sent out through the Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA), InsiderHub, and Executive Networks over a two-week period (March 8 to 23, 2016). The three organizations helped comprise an external audience of some 500 business leaders, HR leaders and consultants. The survey participants were first asked whether or not they agreed with the following two key statements: 

1) “Providing an open forum for employees to offer candid feedback is essential for organizational improvement,” and

2) “Negative feedback from employees can be useful to help an organization improve.” 

An overwhelming 96% responded positively to the first statement, and 97% to the second.  The responses were fairly consistent across various sizes of organization, job titles, and geographic regions.

There was a unanimous agreement that negative feedback from employees can be useful. Over the years, Waggl has seen many instances of companies that have either ignored or attempted to eradicate negative feedback, usually with less than optimal results. 

The data from this also poll indicates that attitudes are shifting, with business and HR leaders alike becoming more open to candid feedback, and more receptive about how to work with it to make their organizations stronger.

The Voice of the Workplace also included a second, open-ended, question in this particular survey: “What is the most constructive way for organizations to handle negative feedback from employees?” 

Here are the top five answers that were crowdsourced with over 3,000 votes on Waggl:

1.  “Provide a response to those giving feedback to indicate that it was heard and understood; then describe action to be taken -- this may include no action, but providing feedback indicates that the input was carefully considered. Further information may clarify the situation about which negative feedback occurred. Responses must be respectful, and not defensive.

2.  “Listen, understand the real issue, probe into further information if needed to fully understand, and then address the feedback directly, honestly, and in a timely manner. Then ask if that helps or if there is further negative feedback.

3.  “Acknowledge and address openly and honestly - be transparent whenever possible - communicate, communicate, communicate.”

4.  “Ask employees to elaborate. Individual or small group. Be honest and transparent. Assume your employees are intelligent and honest people. The dialogue may be uncomfortable, but necessary to fill understandings of issues.

5.  “Acknowledge receipt of the feedback and try to understand its root cause. Be transparent about what the feedback was and what if anything can be done to address/ respond to it.

In the open-ended responses, a clear pattern emerged in which the participants advocated acknowledging the feedback in a transparent way---rather than hiding from it. They also sought to clarify and better understand the root cause, as well as take timely action to address the issues. 


Strong organizations “ACT” on feedback (A.C.T. Acknowledge, Clarify, and Take action).  They understand that to be the best possible version of their organization, they need to look to the wisdom in their own system, their own people. In some cases, the action taken might be explaining to employees why the decisions were made, which can be very powerful in building trust and alignment within an organization.


Waggl is typically used within organizations to collect and distill anonymous, real-time feedback from employees.  The platform provides a variety of templates for users to cultivate feedback, in only a few clicks.  Results are available immediately to administrators and participants in the form of easily digestible infographics.  Unlike traditional survey and polling platforms, Waggl creates a virtual dialogue with participants by asking open-ended questions where favorite responses can be ‘voted up.’  It’s fast and easy to share through multiple channels, and adds a fun, gamified aspect to the process of collecting feedback as shown below.

Tags:  employee  employee engagement  employee relations  employee wellness  HR  human resources  human resources management  NCHRA  stress management  Waggl  workplace 

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