Benefits Benchmarks: North Central Alabama

A few weeks ago, I asked the question “Are Employees Utilizing Those New Perks?” and highlighted benchmarking as a critical activity for evaluating workplace benefits. Now, we have the published results from the 2022 North Central Alabama Wage & Benefit Survey! First up, Average Benefit-Cost Per Employee (Annual) increased 25% over 2021. Employers reported an average of $16,608 spent annually per employee in benefits, compared to $12,459 one year ago. Some hot categories for increased benefits spending are Child Care Support, Adoption Support, Pet Insurance, and Elder Care Support. These types of benefits are increasingly attractive, and the Huntsville/Madison County

Crafting a Thoughtful Performance Management System

I recently asked a room full of managers representing dozens of organizations if they actually liked their own company’s performance management system. What do you think they said?  Some of us may think of Performance Management as a rubber stamp on an annual review. We often don’t think of it as a living, breathing, system. Others of us may think of Performance Management as monitoring what we’re doing wrong. We may not think of it as monitoring and developing what we’re doing right.  When an organization thoughtfully designs, implements, and continuously improves a performance management system, it should look like

Are Employees Utilizing Those New Perks?

Organizations have been extra creative lately with new benefit offerings and retention strategies. Is it working? Are employees utilizing those new perks and sticking around? Yes and no. SHRM explored the issue nationally, and our team has some local insight from the 2021 and 2022 North Central Alabama Wage & Benefit Survey.  Aon reported in April that enrollment in voluntary benefits increased 41% from the previous year. Most of the increases were tied to medical benefits, as to be expected, but some may be surprising:  The fastest-growing voluntary benefits employees enrolled in amid the COVID-19 pandemic include supplemental health insurance

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work…Unless the Team is Dysfunctional

This week, I had the great pleasure of facilitating in-person training with a group of junior managers who are working diligently to improve team and unit dynamics among their direct reports. They quickly identified the teams they lead that are functional vs. dysfunctional, and we had some deep discussion about why some teams work and some don’t.  Patrick Lencioni is a subject matter expert on organizational health and team dynamics, and his model of the “5 Dysfunctions of a Team” is embedded in most training about how and why teams work or don’t. The foundation for the model is Trust,

Training and Developing Growth Mindset

Two weeks ago, Taylor kicked off our new series on Growth Mindset: what is it?! Today we’re exploring a growth mindset in training & development.  The Neuroleadership Institute (NLI) defines growth mindset as …the belief that your skills and abilities can be improved, and that ongoing development is the goal of the work you do. However, creating a growth mindset culture isn’t just about having optimistic employees, but creating a space where employees strive to learn, enjoy being challenged, and feel encouraged to develop new skills. Let’s look at a case study of NLI’s work with Microsoft.  A few years

Why Encounter Groups Work

One year ago this month, Mary Ila published “4 Exercises to Enhance Your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts” and featured the Encounter Group Model. This blurb stuck out to me the most:  “When we engage in these types of activities, we get to know people. We build relationships. And when we know people it makes it much harder to hate them, or people that are ‘like’ them.’” Since then, our team has partnered with a client to pilot Encounter Groups with about 50 people in an organization of thousands. And it’s working.  We define Encounter Groups as “a group of

Learning from K-12 Educators

“Naturally, everyone must find a way to earn a living wage, but the paycheck should not be the only motivation. Employees who are confident in their abilities and somewhat comfortable in their workplace can be highly productive. Please note that my sentence said ‘somewhat comfortable.’ We must become a bit uncomfortable to grow professionally.”  This is a quote from a K-12 Career Counselor in our latest Continuing Education Class for Facilitating Alabama Career Development: Assessments & Resumes. For the last couple of years, our team has been working with K-12 career developers throughout the state of Alabama, and one big

Lead Up and Learn Up

MYTH: Individual Contributors can’t shift the paradigm at the organizational level.  Our team has a long-term partnership with a multinational company to facilitate leadership training for all of their Managers of People (MOPs) and Individual Contributors here at the local site. The program we’ve developed for them consistently receives glowing reviews, with one caveat: Individual Contributors are skeptical of a real shift among the “higher-ups”. The feeling is something like, “This is great and all, but unless corporate changes the way we do things, I can’t have an impact.”  Let’s tackle the myth.  Willie Pietersen, Professor at Columbia University and

Book Review: Happy Brain

My sabbatical was great for many reasons, personal and professional. One of the big ones: I could read books! I love to read, and my schedule had gotten so full that there was no time for it. So, the first book I read on sabbatical? Happy Brain by Dean Burnett. 10/10 would recommend.  Leading into my extended leave from work, I experienced my first personal mental health crisis. For several months, I felt wrong. Not like myself. My moods and emotions became erratic and unpredictable. It’s very strange, that feeling that you’ve lost yourself. So I did something about it. 

SAC Preview: Workforce Challenges and Solutions

This morning I read about 3 economists who’ve been awarded the Nobel Prize for their research and impact on critical workforce issues including minimum wage, immigration, and education. Their research on minimum wage in the 1990s found that raising the minimum wage had no effect on the number of employees, showing that companies could effectively raise the minimum wage, retain top talent, and increase the number of applicants in the labor pool. That was 30 years ago.  We’ve come a long way, but as we find ourselves in 2021, employers struggle to find and retain talent – particularly in retail