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How to Solve the Biggest Problems Surrounding Performance Reviews

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In a study of company processes influencing employee motivation, performance reviews received a total motivation score of 41 points, based on a scale from -100 to 100. Yet, for varied reasons, appraisals often fail to produce results – conducting reviews late, not setting clear objectives, using an inefficient HR and payroll solution, and inadequate management training being among the most common. Here’s how to address the common problems with performance reviews.

Late Reviews

Even the most well-intentioned manager can become so busy that he or she fails to complete performance reviews on time. But, late reviews may cause employees to feel as though their contributions aren’t valued, which can demotivate them and hinder their performance. When managers have the resources to complete evaluations on time – such as an HR and payroll solution that reduces review preparation time – it’s easier for them to follow through and conduct timely reviews.

Unclear Goals

Employees need clear, specific, comprehensible, attainable and measureable goals that are challenging and relevant to the organization’s objectives. Telling an employee to “increase production” doesn’t precisely convey your expectations. A better strategy would be to say that she needs to increase production by five units per hour by Jan. 1. This clearly articulates what’s expected of her and gives you a quantifiable basis for rating her performance.

Personal Biases

It’s not uncommon for employees to complain about the unfairness of performance reviews. For instance, an employee might assume low performance ratings are a result of a personal issue the manager has with him or her. While this is a subjective viewpoint, personal biases do exist and must be avoided during the review process.

To reduce the risk of unfair appraisals, employers can use an HR and payroll solution that allows objective, verifiable measurements, such as:

  • quality, i.e. accuracy and usefulness of the work performed
  • quantity, i.e. level of productivity
  • timeliness, i.e. whether the work is completed by a certain date
  • cost-effectiveness, i.e. how efficiently the work was produced

During performance reviews, employees may ask questions that numbers alone cannot answer. They might, for example, seek their manager’s opinion on whether they have a bright future with the company. Even then, managers should strive for objectivity by providing concrete examples to support their assessments.

Mishandling of Poor Performers

Discussing employees’ deficiencies during performance reviews is a sensitive matter that managers must handle with tact and honesty. Withholding the truth about an employee’s subpar performance only stifles growth, while revealing the truth in a harsh manner fractures self-esteem. Try to strike a balance between being helpful yet firm. For example, give the employee a thorough action plan, schedule regular follow-up meetings and explain the consequences of repeated poor performance. Additionally, inadequacies should not first be discussed in the performance review. Instead managers should address issues as soon as they arrive in one-on-one sessions.

Not all employees respond favorably to bad news. A poor performer might cry, shout, walk away or seethe silently during the review. With appropriate training, managers can learn to gauge employee reactions and respond accordingly.

Lack of Employee-Job Alignment

Employees need responsibilities that match their capabilities. Otherwise, they will not achieve their potential or perform at the required level. To assist in employee job alignment, during performance reviews you might ask employees how they feel about their roles and capabilities. Based on their responses, you can discover their untapped potential or determine whether further training or job reassignment is needed.

Failure to Keep up with Technology

By embracing newer technology that enables accuracy and efficiency, employers can implement best-practice solutions for performance reviews. For example, a single-application HR and payroll solution lets you:

  • perform timely reviews by reminding you of upcoming appraisals.
  • set clear goals based on family, department, position or employee.
  • conduct objective reviews according to required competencies.
  • establish development goals to improve poor performance.
  • create and delegate positions that coincide with employees’ abilities.

Conducting performance reviews on time shows your commitment to your employees’ success. Keeping reviews focused on what can be proven reduces arbitrary ratings. When dealing with poor performer, merging empathy with truth reveals your desire to see them grow. Discovering employees’ abilities helps you delegate responsibilities to those most capable.

These strategies can boost employee motivation, but managers cannot accomplish them alone. They need proper support – such as an HR and payroll solution that simplifies yet strengthens the appraisal process.



Author Bio: As a Human Resource Professional with over 20 years of experience, Jenny has extensive experience in management, mentoring, policy development and recruiting. Jenny's team player mentality and leadership abilities make her an elite HR Director who is always on top of the latest HR trends. She relentlessly directs associates and executives to achieve their maximum potential for both themselves and their companies.

applicants’ criminal history

California ‘Ban the Box’ Law to Take Effect Jan. 1

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Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1008 (AB 1008), placing new restrictions on employers’ ability to make hiring decisions based on applicants’ criminal history. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, AB 1008 also limits when employers may ask applicant about that history.

Prior to this legislation, “ban the box” protections only prohibited state and local agencies from asking about conviction information before the applicant was determined qualified for the position. The new law extends the protections to all applicants applying to an employer in California with five or more employees.

Under AB 1008, consideration of an applicant’s criminal history is permissible only after the employer has made a conditional offer of employment. At that point, employers may not rescind the employment offer based on the criminal history until they have performed an individualized assessment.

Individualized assessments of an applicants’ criminal history

An individualized assessment is a process to justify denying an applicant a position by linking their criminal history to specific job duties. For example, if an employer is considering an individual for a cashier position, which would involve handling large sums of cash, the employer may determine a shoplifting conviction to be reason for disqualifying, because the conviction relates to specific job duties.

An individual assessment must consider:

  • the nature and gravity of the offense and conduct
  • the time passed since the offense or conduct and completion of the sentence
  • the nature of the job held or sought

Also, the employer must notify the applicant in writing once a preliminary decision is made. This notice is not required to contain a justification for the preliminary decision, but the employer must:

  • provide written notice of the disqualifying conviction or convictions that are the basis for the preliminary decision to rescind the offer
  • include a copy of the conviction history report, if any
  • let the applicant know they have the right to respond to the notice within at least five business days
  • explain the candidate may submit evidence challenging the accuracy of the conviction record or present mitigating circumstances

During that five-day period, the employer cannot make any final hiring determinations based on conviction records. If the applicant responds, the employer must consider the information in the response before making a final decision.

California employers

AB 1008 contains a detailed process for California employers to follow when making employment decisions based on criminal history. Employers should review these changes and adjust policies and procedures accordingly to ensure compliance by Jan. 1, 2018.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

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Posted in Blog, California, Compliance, Featured

Jason Hines

by Jason Hines


Author Bio: Jason Hines is a Paycom compliance attorney. With more than five years’ experience in the legal field, he monitors developments in human resource laws, rules and regulations to ensure any changes are promptly updated in Paycom’s system for our clients. Previously, he was an attorney at the Oklahoma City law firm Elias, Books, Brown & Nelson. Hines earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and his juris doctor degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law, where he graduated cum laude. A fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Hines also enjoys exploring the great outdoors with his wife and daughter.

How The Fred Factor Can Transform Your Customer Service

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In 1982, leadership expert and motivational speaker Mark Sanborn moved into a neighborhood where his view of customer service was transformed. In his first internationally best-selling book, The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary, he tells the story of a postman who revolutionized the way he looked at customer service and the idea of “going above and beyond.”

Sanborn had just moved into a new home in the Washington Park area of Denver when Fred, a seemingly ordinary United States Postal Service carrier with a small, thin mustache, introduced himself one day during his route. However, Fred was no ordinary mailman.

As Sanborn came to discover, Fred was the kind of worker who exemplified everything “right” with customer service. He was “a gold-plated example of what personalized service looks like and a role model for anyone who wants to make a difference in his or her work.”

Join us as Mark Sanborn, provides the answer through four powerful tools that business leaders and HR professionals can use to help others pursue their potential, which in turn, helps improve engagement and a company’s bottom line during our free Nov. 16 webinar.

In The Fred Factor, Sanborn describes how each of us can become a “Fred.”

What makes someone a ’Fred’?

A “Fred” is someone who goes above and beyond the normal call of duty, regardless of recognition or reward. And that’s the key part: regardless of recognition or reward. These employees demonstrate a spirit of service, innovation and commitment. This “Fred Factor” will help you at work and in your personal life.

Here are four principles from the book that can help you become a Fred.

  1. Everyone makes a difference

No matter your position, ultimately it’s up to you to do your job in an extraordinary way. There are no unimportant jobs, just people who feel unimportant doing them. More satisfaction exists in being a first-rate truck driver than a tenth-rate executive.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep the streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep the streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

Think about the ways this applies to you and your job, and remember: What you do every day matters and has an effect on others.

  1. Success is built on relationships

Indifferent people provide indifferent service. Building strong relationships with your colleagues will help you work better together and provide an even higher level of customer service.

You can improve the service you provide by getting to know your customers better, too. Service becomes personalized when a relationship exists between the provider and the customer. For example, think about your hairdresser or barber: Would the hair-care experience be a good one if the two of you weren’t on friendly terms? Would you be willing to spend hours with this person every other month or so if he or she wasn’t personable? Probably not.

What can you do to build relationships with the people you work with, including the customers you frequently serve?

  1. Continually create value

Creating value doesn’t have to cost a thing. Ever feel like you don’t have enough money, training or other resources to perform at a high level? Fred had only a uniform and a bag of mail, and still he managed to provide exceptional customer service. His own creativity and drive helped him succeed, and it didn’t cost him or the company a single penny.

Your imagination and creativity can help you go above and beyond too! If all Fred needed was a bag of mail and a uniform, think of everything you can accomplish with the resources you have at your fingertips.

You can be an employee who gives your company a competitive advantage by creating value for your clients and colleagues. Want to bet that will help you in your professional life?

  1. Reinvent yourself regularly

Most of us fall short of what we are capable of accomplishing. If you want to reach your full potential, mediocrity is your silent opponent. Doing just enough to get by means you’ll never know how much you could accomplish.

Think of the effort and originality Fred brought to delivering the mail. If he could bring such value to putting letters in a box, how much more can you bring to your position? Just getting by won’t help you reach your goals; pursuing innovation and creativity can help you gain real value and meaning from your work.

No matter your position or circumstances, you get to start with a clean slate every day. You can orient your professional (and personal) life any direction you choose!

The way to move through life joyfully is by focusing on what you give rather than what you get. You do the right thing not because you have to, but because it’s right. All work is honorable; always do your best, because someone is watching. This is the “Fred Factor”!

After putting these ideas to practice, you may wonder, “What’s next?” If you want to make sure you’re reaching your full potential (even after achieving your goals), join us for our live webinar Nov. 16, when Sanborn provides the answer through four powerful tools that business leaders and HR professionals can use. Register for free here.

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Posted in Blog, Employee Experience, Featured, Leadership

Chelsea Justice

by Chelsea Justice


Author Bio: Chelsea is co-host Paycom’s HR Break Room podcast, editor-in-chief of its corporate culture magazine, Paycom Pulse and is Paycom’s communications supervisor. During her more than eight years in marketing, corporate training and communications, she has created hundreds of magazines, training guides, videos and webinars for multiple industries. In her free time, Chelsea is planning her next travel adventure, perfecting her most recent baking recipe, devouring a good book and, above all, spending time with family.

How Automating Recruitment Boosts Your Candidate Experience

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You treat your employees like people, not just numbers, right? You respect their time, communicate with them regularly and get to know them personally. If you want to improve your candidate experience, you need to treat candidates the same way.

The quality of hires can be improved by as much as 70% when a company invests in a positive candidate experience, according to Glassdoor. Candidates want a simple experience that reflects the environment in which they may work. Negative experiences frustrate candidates, which could lead them to posting bad reviews of your company on career sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. Poor reviews will make it more difficult for you to find great talent. Automation and an applicant tracking system (ATS) can help you make sure every candidate leaves with a positive impression of your company, even if they are not hired.

Learn how automating the recruitment process makes it possible to provide a consistent candidate experience while reducing paperwork and time spent searching for the right people.

No more ‘black hole’ of communication

After candidates apply for a position at your company, they should quickly hear from you. Although many candidates may infer they haven’t been selected if they don’t get acknowledgement of receipt, receiving nothing can make them wonder if their application even made it through the system.

An automated process helps to remove the “black hole” of communication by ensuring every candidate – qualified or not – hears something back from your company. In 2016, 47% of candidates were still waiting to hear back from an employer more than two months after submitting an application, according to the nonprofit organization Talent Board. While an automated response may not be personal, it at least lets candidates know you received their application and how long they should expect to wait to be contacted if they are being considered.

When you create an automated process, you’re forced to establish a clear hiring pipeline for all hiring managers to follow. Setting up a process allows you to test candidates’ experiences and find gaps in communication. This process then can be provided to candidates even before they’ve applied.

Once a hiring process is established, add a section on your careers page that clearly lays out the steps in an interview process. Concrete steps – for example, if a phone interview will occur, in addition to in-person interviews and a homework assignment – help candidates understand where they are in the process.

A personal connection with recruiters

High-touch aspects of recruiting, like interview preparation, can be improved when routine tasks are removed from the recruiter’s/hiring manager’s plate. A good ATS allows your recruiters to spend most of their time with talented candidates, instead of spending hours weeding through those who don’t meet your minimum requirements.

Recruiters have time to call candidates and prepare them for their in-person interviews, including answering any questions they may have and providing a detailed agenda. This personal touch helps to reduce or remove the nerves candidates feel going in to interviews – which will make those interviews a more accurate representation of the candidates.

Clear guidelines and decreased repetition

With an automated recruiting and established processes in place, your hiring managers will know better how long each aspect of the interview process will take. An established and consistent process will make it easier to identify the gaps that may lead to long waits between interviews or unnecessary steps and wasted time.

Candidates who gave their experiences a one-star rating indicated their time at appointments and interviews was disrespected, and some said they withdrew from consideration because the process took too long, according to Talent Board. Candidates won’t fall out of a long process if they know ahead of time to expect it.

How an ATS can help you

Organization is the key to success when it comes to providing a consistent candidate experience. Whether your business uses external recruiters, staffing firms or its own recruiters and HR department to gather candidates’ information, an ATS makes it easy to stay organized.

No matter what kind of business you have, automated recruiting can help you treat every candidate consistently and fairly. The result is an applicant left with a positive impression of your company, and an improved talent pool for you.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, Pre-Employment, Talent Acquisition

Callie Johnson

by Callie Johnson


Author Bio: As a writer for Paycom, Callie Johnson creates content for the company’s various marketing and communications initiatives. Having earned her bachelor’s degrees in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and web design/development from Full Sail University, she has written for companies of all sizes. Outside of the office, she enjoys hand-lettering, going to the movies and spending time with her family and dogs.

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