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Are Office Politics Dominating Your Work Environment? Here’s How to Manage Them.

According to collinsdictionary.com, office politics are defined as the ways that power is shared in an organization or workplace, and the ways that it is affected by the personal relationships between the people who work there.”

Office politics is common in any company. Nonetheless, they can ruin productivity, reduce morale, and cause much wasted time, effort, and even good talent. Competition for advancement, striving for constant attention (and the boss’s ear) and the need to always get “your own way,” are not all, but some of the root causes.

Let’s be honest. Office politics can get down, right nasty.

A national survey of more than 1,000 office employees conducted by Bridge by Instructure, Inc., a talent management software suite for businesses, reported “over half believed engaging in workplace politics is an important factor in receiving a promotion.”

While this may be true in some cases, it also means other employees with talent could be disregarded for their efforts and not given the rewards they deserve.

So, what can hiring managers or managers do about this? A lot.

Find the Source

Office politics can arise where competition is fierce. As a result, it’s important to determine who the employee (or sometimes employees) is that is causing the politics in the first place.

It’s not hard to spot. As a manager, try to recognize those superiors who play favorites or those employees who thrive on gossip beyond the water cooler chit chat. In fact, www.mindtools.com suggests to see who gets along with who; which employee(s) find it more difficult to interact with others; determine in-groups, out-groups or cliques; or if interoffice connections are based on respect, friendships, or even romances.

In the event the workplace does get heated (as it often can with office politics) it’ll be easier to determine the source, and find a temporary solution for the problem. Unfortunately, office politics never really go away.

Strive for Open Communication

Communication in the workplace is essential for productivity, growth, and success. It’s also reduces the chances of politics, according to The Management Study Guide. They recommend employees should not play with words and always pass on the information in its desired form. Plus communicate via texts, emails, or various work management software to avoid confusion is also a good idea. From a manager’s perspective, request to be cc’d or bcc’d on any communication to avoid any miscommunication or problems down the road.

 

Promote Transparency and Team Work

A productive workplace is often a happy workplace. As a manager, encourage transparency at all levels so employees are clear of company goals. Policies should also be same for everyone. The Management Study Guide suggests team work should be promoted to not only strengthen bonds amongst employees, but develop stronger relationships.

While there are many methods for managers to combat politics, it just takes a few basic management skills. Once the politics are reduced, you can feel good about managing a sound, creative and productive work environment.

By signing up with Ninja Gig, companies easily promote openings using online employment applications. Online job applications make it easy for qualified applicants to apply. Sign up now for your free trial and get your online job applications in front of potential candidates now.

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Five Unique Questions that are Illegal to Ask in an Interview

There’s a long list of labor laws that hiring managers need abide by and the last thing you want to do is ask one that leads to discrimination. While recounting every labor regulation in the law book is hard for even the most ardent attorney, hiring managers and HR professionals need to be extra diligent when it comes asking certain specific questions during an interview.

According to Monster, there are a series of ones to avoid, which are considered discriminating (and vary from state to state). Asking about age, religion beliefs, nationality, or kids (or planning on having kids) are all well-known questions to avoid. Yet, there are a series of questions and topics that are lesser known. Here are just a few that are most likely illegal in every state:

  1. Bankruptcy Filing

Asking if a candidate has ever filed for bankruptcy is big a no-no, along with asking about loans, wage attachments, and overall financial status. However, you can ask for certain financial information related to benefits of compensation after they have been hired.

  1. Military Discharge Status

While it’s fine to ask if an applicant is a veteran or they have any job-related experience from the military, always avoid asking their discharge status.

  1. Asking About Nearest Relatives or Next of Kin

This is another question that is off limits, yet it’s legal to ask an applicant about a nearest relative or next of kin for emergency contacts once after they have been hired.

  1. History of Belonging to a Union

Raising a question about previous roles and affiliation within a union is another one to avoid. However, you can make reference about the union status of your workplace.

  1. Disabilities

Whether a disability is apparent or not, this is very much illegal  under The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which “provides protections for disabled employees and job applicants.” When a candidate’s disability is obvious (or has disclosed their disability), it’s suggested to ask about any necessary (or reasonable) accommodations they may need for the position.

Interviewing can be a long process and it’s wise to make special note of the more unique questions. Even though you may not realize that some questions are in fact illegal, it’s always best to do further research to avoid any type of discrimination.

By signing up with Ninja Gig, companies easily promote openings using online employment applications. Online job applications make it easy for qualified applicants to apply. Sign up now for your free trial and get your online job applications in front of potential candidates now.

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Bullying in the Workplace and What Employers Can Do About It

Bullying was at one time just an issue in school yards and classrooms. Yet, in recent years, bullying in the workplace has become a major concern among employees, managers and/or supervisors. While having a tough, demanding boss is one thing, bullying is something different altogether. It can essentially undermine an employees’ performance, greatly affect their overall attitude and cause unnecessary stress.

According to The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, bullying in the workplace is not illegal in the U.S. unless it involves various forms of illegal harassment. The result of bullying is extensive and can even be the potential source of physical and mental health problems. So, what can employers do about bullying and how can they prevent it in their workplace?

Here are a few actions employers can take to fight against this age-old behavior in efforts to prevent it:

1. Identify Bullying

Unlike the school yard tormentor, bullying in the workplace goes way beyond stealing lunch money. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries also states that bullying involves many behavioral patterns towards an employee(s) including (but not limited to):

  • Being shouted and sworn at or humiliated.
  • Deliberately excluded or isolated
  • Excessive mentoring and micro-management
  • Deliberately singling out an employee for no apparent reason

 2. Educate Managers, Supervisors and Directors

Employers or human resource professionals may want to implement a zero-tolerance anti-bullying program (or policy) to ensure senior staff is aware of bullying and that they are provided with proper training on how to get involved constructively. In fact, The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries states that bullying will less likely take place if a company takes a strong stand and the tormentor is likely to be accountable for their actions.

 3. Reporting and Investigating Bullying

Employers can also encourage staff to report any incidents. Although no employee wants to be known as a “snitch or a tattle-tale,” reporting about bullying should be handled quietly and confidentially with assurance that there won’t be any further consequences in the workplace.

On a final note, according to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, if an employer, supervisor or manager doesn’t take action against bullying in the workplace, then they are accepting a share of the responsibility for future abuses.

By signing up with Ninja Gig, companies easily promote openings using online employment applications. Online job applications make it easy for qualified applicants to apply. Sign up now for your free trial and get your online job applications in front of potential candidates now.

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The Latest in HR Trends

Every year seems to have a different focus on the HR industry, so what trends are going to be present throughout 2019? Ninja Gig weighs in with what they are seeing kick off this new year.

Personalization

In the past, many companies have focused on a “one-size-fits-all” approach to standardizing businesses. Employees have different work styles, and some employees work better in a collaborative work environment, while others prefer more isolation and silence. Tailoring specific office design settings to employees’ work styles helps to produce more productive employees and a personalized work environment.

Trust

Trust is a big one. Do people trust the companies that employ them? If not, then it makes it difficult for employees to be loyal and stay with a company long-term. I mean if someone doesn’t trust their employer, why do they still work there? If a company says they’re going to do something, they should try their best to do it. Broken promises and smoke and mirrors all contribute to a poor work environment, which leads to higher turnover rates.

Paternalism

While traditionally companies have been taught that leaders and managers should be good coaches, this isn’t necessarily true. In reality, many managers aren’t good, motivating coaches. It’s essential that managers undergo training to help them understand the process of becoming a good coach. If you invest in helping managers to become good coaches and teach them how to enjoy their jobs more, you’ll have long-term employees that are more productive and happy.

Doing Less

Management needs to make an impact by doing less because it produces more significant results in the workplace. If there are an overwhelming number of rules and regulations, work can feel more like going into court than a positive working environment.

Focusing on People

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in semantics, but in the end, all employees are people. Sometimes the expectations of the workforce can be too high. Understanding the psychology of people, what motivates them and how they are driven to succeed will significantly help to improve company performance.

By signing up with Ninja Gig, companies easily promote openings using online employment applications. Online job applications make it easy for qualified applicants to apply. Sign up now for your free trial and get your online job applications in front of potential candidates now.

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Tips for Hiring Seasonal Employees

The busy holiday rush is just around the corner, and many companies are scrambling to hire seasonal or contract employees. Often this last minute hiring frenzy is stressful and daunting.

Here are some tips to help companies survive this busy time of year:

  • Concise Job Description – When creating a job description for seasonal work, accurately describe the duties and clearly state that the position is seasonal, part-time or contract.
  • Social Media – Having a strong social media presence that is supportive of employees and defines a company’s culture is also essential when trying to attract the best talent. Keep in mind that seasonal positions can help determine an employee’s work habits and value, and could lead to more long-term opportunities for advancement. Today’s teens continuously check their social media pages, which makes it an ideal application to post job openings.
  • Employee Referrals – Implement an employee referral program to help incentivize current employees to help refer potential applicants for seasonal and full-time positions. Whether it’s offering a cash bonus or a gift card reward, employers can disperse the referral incentives after the new hire finishes the season.
  • Job Fair – Job fairs are a great way to find seasonal employees and give employers the opportunity to meet many prospective applicants and communicate with them in a short time frame. If participating in a job fair, begin planning advertising approximately two weeks in advance to maximize the reach and exposure.
  • Vet Candidates – Once companies have a good pool of solid candidates, review each applicant’s resume, references and conduct a background check, if necessary. Remember to ask questions during the interview that focus on different scenarios or situations to find out how the applicants react under pressure.

Ninja Gig can make hiring seasonal employees effortless and painless. Sign up now for your free trial and customize your online job applications to save you valuable time by including sections for resumes, references, background check information and even an area for brief essay questions.

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Tips for Interviewing and Hiring Cleaning Staff

If you have a cleaning company, chances are that you know the challenges of keeping and maintaining good housekeeping staff. Furthermore, you probably dread the interview process. If you fear a mountain of paper applications and what types of questions you can’t ask, Ninja Gig is here to help you simplify your interview process so you can find the right talent for your company.

Here are some examples of interview questions and how to phrase them.

  • Illegal: How many sick days did you take last year?
  • Legal: How many days of work did you miss last year?

 

  • Illegal: Do you have a vehicle?
  • Legal: How will you get to work?

 

  • Illegal: Have you ever been arrested?
  • Legal: Have you ever been convicted of theft or fraud?

 

Here are some different, yet insightful questions to ask when interviewing potential applicants.

  • What type of books do you like to read? – This question can help you gauge an applicant’s hobbies and social activities without directly asking.
  • What was the last movie you saw on TV or in the theater? – This gives insight into their personal preferences and hobbies. If they give details about the movie, it shows that they have comprehension skills that may prove valuable when taking directions.
  • Tell me about yourself. – This measures how well an applicant does when put on the spot as well as how detailed they are in answering the question. Avoidant personalities may try to ask, “What would you like to know?” but that is not the question in this exercise.
  • What types of clubs or activities did you do when you were younger? – Children that are involved in activities may grow up to have a better work ethic. In this exercise, you are looking for team sports or groups, such as 4-H Club, etc.

 

Other interview tips include:

  • Telephone Calls – Conduct the initial interview via telephone. This can help eliminate applicants before they even see you face-to-face. Remember that applicants need to earn interviews. Even a three-minute conversation may be enough to ensure that the conversation is understandable and that the applicant is serious about applying for the position.
  • Interviewing in Groups – One benefit to interviewing in groups is that you can conduct your initial interviews in one session, which is excellent for time management. Additionally, followers in groups will chime in, “That’s what I was going to say.” These activities can also establish leaders and followers when identifying potential applicants’ personality types.
  • Meals – Interviewing the final round of applicants over breakfast or lunch is also a good option because you can see their manners and etiquette firsthand.

 

By employing these helpful interview tips into your next recruitment session, you can easily identify qualified housecleaning candidates for your company.

 

Ninja Gig offers online job applications, which makes it easy to avoid a mountain of paper employment applications. Additionally, you can advertise for open housekeeping positions on your website or social media pages, while complying with all state and federal employment requirements. Sign up today for our 30-day free trial and see how easily you can improve your hiring processes.

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Double Check Yourself: Do your words detour female candidate?

Research shows that if companies use the wrong words in a job description, it may detour highly qualified female candidates from applying.

It’s important that companies write job descriptions and applications in a gender-neutral tone. For example, remove all feminine or masculine vocabulary to help increase the likelihood of qualified men and women applying for positions.

For example, studies show that male applicants prefer applications that use the word “exhaustive,” while female applicants respond better to the phrase “loves learning.” Additionally, men are more likely to apply with stereotypical phrases such as “competitive salary” or “best of the best.”

Additional words that may turn off female applicants include:

  • Ambitious
  • Analytical
  • Assertive
  • Autonomous
  • Boastful
  • Chairman
  • Dominate
  • Foosball
  • Ninja
  • Hierarchical
  • Rigid
  • Stock options
  • Strong
  • Takes risks
  • Workforce

While it’s acceptable to use some masculine-skewed terms in a job description, it’s important that companies balance these out with gender-neutral or feminine terms.

It’s not that one term can necessarily turn women off from applying to jobs. It’s when companies scatter several of these hot-button words and terms into a description that it may raise subconscious red flags to women not to apply.

On the flip side, these are words that may help attract more female applicants.

  • Adaptable
  • Choose
  • Collaborate
  • Creative
  • Curious
  • Excellent
  • Flexible schedule
  • Multitaking
  • Health
  • Imaginative
  • Intuitive
  • Plans for the future
  • Resilient
  • Self-aware
  • Socially responsible
  • Thoughtful
  • Trustworthy
  • Up-to-date
  • Wellness program

It’s important that companies use gender-neutral words when creating job descriptions. While solving the gender diversity puzzle is not straightforward or simple, this small step can help companies potentially attract better-qualified candidates.

Ninja Gig offers online job applications that are easy to customize so your organization can focus on gender-neutral wording.  Ready to start?  Sign up for your free trial now and see how easy our software is to use!

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Reshaping Negotiations: How Salary History Bans Affect Your Company

Many state and local legislatures are creating a new ban: one that prohibits employers from asking candidates about their past pay. This will forever change salary negotiations.

For as long as companies and applicants can remember, the most common initial hiring question is past salary. These numbers gave companies insight into determining who made more than the position offered, helping eliminate them from further screening, and offering less money to those candidates that have lower salary histories.

However, policymakers are rethinking this question, believing that it may be helping perpetuate both gender and racial disparities that are present in today’s compensation scale.

Even in 2018, the gender pay gap remains wide, with women only earning around 80 centers to men’s one dollar. Of these women, Black and Latinas see the most significant discrepancy, making approximately 55 to 60 cents for every dollar earned by white men.

This has prompted several states, including New York and California, to move towards banning salary questions in the interview process.

The reviews on whether this will help narrow the gap and create equal pay are mixed. Some companies say that it will improve, while others say that it will have minimum impact on pay equity.

While more states and localities are joining the nationwide trend to ban salary questions, it’s a good time for companies to reevaluate their practice of inquiring about candidates past pay. Consider revisiting company compensation strategies and hiring practices. Rely on the market data to help set the pay rates for positions, which gives companies time to focus on the candidate’s qualifications.

Fines for violating this law vary. For example, Delaware’s law outlines civil penalties that may go up to $10,000 for each offense. New York City is proposing stricter penalties that may go up to $250,000.

To help make sure that your company complies with changing times, check to see if your state or local district has enacted any laws that pertain to restricting questions about salary history. It’s always important that Human Resources departments and company managers know the law.

If your state prohibits discussing salary histories, make sure to update all paperwork that may ask these types of questions.

Here’s a quick list of states that have or are going to be instituting salary history bans: California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, Puerto Rico, New York City and San Francisco.

Ninja Gig offers affordable solutions for traditional job applications. With their online employment applications, employers can quickly alter forms to best apply to local and state laws.  Sign up now to start accepting job applications online immediately!

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Biggest HR Challenges

Today’s companies face ever-evolving workforce threats – ranging from cyber breaches, workplace violence to mental health issues and employee well-being – today’s HR professionals must comply with a myriad of laws.

Here are some of the top HR challenges that companies face in 2018.

  1. Harassment – Courtesy of Harvey Weinstein, harassment has plagued America in both the entertainment, political and media industries over the last several months. Employers must have zero tolerance harassment policies, which are in print to protect employees.
  2. Drug Testing and Substance Abuse – Opioid addiction dominated the headlines in 2017. Managing and addressing drug use and testing is a challenging issue many employers face. Employers should implement a drug-free workplace, putting policies in effect that prohibits the use of drugs on work premises and during work hours.
  3. Employee Handbooks – An employee handbook should contain workplace policies, the employer’s mission and goals, and information about discrimination, harassment, leave and paid time off and employee benefits. Handbooks should remain up-to-date at all times, being closely monitored for changes to federal, state and local laws.
  4. Well-Being and Mental Health – To ensure that workers are productive and have low absenteeism rates, physical and mental health needs to be addressed by companies. It is important that HR professionals employ sensitivity, as well as FMLA and ADA rules when it comes to dealing with physical or mental ailments. Employers may also wish to add substance abuse services and behavioral health treatments that extend beyond what medical insurance plans may cover.
  5. Workplace Violence – In a day and age where mass shootings, terrorist attacks and bomb threats are becoming all too common, employers should implement a safety plan to help protect the workplace should one of these unfortunate incidents occur. Additionally, consider requiring background checks on applicants, implementing a zero-tolerance workplace violence policy and not allowing weapons on the premises.
  6. Recruiting – Employment numbers are low, which means that it is an employee’s market for job hunting. This is putting the burden on employers to attract and find the best talent for their organizations. Use online job applications to help manage and organize information for candidates. Additionally, companies can easily post their job openings online and on social media outlets, creating personal job applications that match the skill sets of an ideal candidate.
  7. Cyber Breaches – 2017 saw some major data breaches. As cloud-based systems become more popular, companies will need to ensure that private and confidential information is protected in the event a cyber breach occurs.

Ninja Gig offers customizable online job applications. Sign up today for a 30-day free trial and see how much easier your recruitment efforts can be!

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12 Human Resources Hot Buttons

Today’s job market has some fierce competition, which is why employees need to stand out more than ever.

Ninja Gig highlights the latest 12 hot button subjects for human resources’ departments to incorporate into their interview questions.

  1. Results – The bottom line is any interview is to determine what the applicant has accomplished. Listen to action and buzz words, such as: initiated, developed, led or increased.
  2. Figures and Numbers – Don’t settle for vague assertions. Ask questions so applicants deliver concrete statistics, numbers and figures. Did they help decrease spending or increase revenue? Ask the hard questions to get the best and brightest employees.
  3. Awards – Make sure that applicants highlight their accolades and awards.
  4. Staying Power – You want to see an employee that has the staying power your company needs to succeed. Look for employees that have stayed at companies for several years and received promotions before moving on. These are signs of candidates that will help reduce your turnover and build your business.
  5. Website or Blog – Blogging and personal websites have become very popular. Reading someone’s grammar and writing style can also highlight good communication skills. This is also an opportune time to see if the potential applicant shared too much about his/her personal life or details about past jobs.
  6. Skills and Education – If your company requires specific certifications, make sure that applicants have kept up with any requirements or necessary education. An applicant that stays up-to-date on the latest technology and industry trends is someone that wants to succeed.
  7. Attitude – You want employees that are flexible, positive and enthusiastic. Avoid hiring applicants that criticize current or past employers or co-workers. Remember that a positive attitude is contagious in the workplace.
  8. Leadership Skills – Many companies think that leadership skills are only reserved for management positions. However, you need to think again. New employees that demonstrate leadership skills can help influence your company and have room for growth. Look for potential leadership by listening to how candidates improved a product or process, came up with solutions to problems or contributed ideas to their workplaces.
  9. Initiative and Ideas – Listen for applicants to tell you solutions and ideas that can solve your business’ current problems. Not only will you be more interested in hearing their proactive solutions, but chances are you’re looking for a candidate that has the potential to hit the ground running.
  10. Growth Potential – You want people that don’t just commit to their job descriptions, but are willing to go above and beyond to ensure your company’s success. Ask candidates about their past experiences where they have operated outside their comfort zones.
  11. Hobbies – You know that all candidates have interests outside of work so why not ask them about their passions. Someone that is devoted to hobbies or has special interests shows he/she is committed to success.
  12. Creativity – You want to hire employees that are creative problem solvers that can easily think outside the box. See if the candidate has a track record for solving problems using innovative solutions.

Ninja Gig can help companies implement a reliable online job application system. You can quickly and efficiently target advertising to potential online candidates and then search through their online job applications. Once you have a narrow list of potential candidates, you can focus on interviewing, asking the right questions and hiring the employee that will help your company succeed.  Sign up today for your free trial and you can make your life so much easier.  Start accepting applications within minutes!