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How to Manage an Underperforming Employee: The Easy Way

How to Manage an Underperforming Employee: The Easy Way 1016 528 Sprockets

As a business owner or operator, you are bound to face underperforming employees at one point or another. Either they are not providing the output required by their position, or there is a significant decrease in the quality of their work. But, while underperformance might be considered natural with the ebb and flow of a business, it can affect other workers if not handled quickly, ultimately undermining the performance of your whole organization.

There are a number of proven strategies for managing underperforming employees. Having a formal process will help manage this without the risk of breaching any employment contract or registration. Let’s take a look at how you can accomplish this.

Characteristics of an Underperforming Employee

Your first move should be to identify the underperforming employee.

An underperforming employee is typically one who:

  •         Consistently fails to meet deadlines
  •         Has a poor record of quality in their work
  •         Displays laziness when it comes to task execution
  •         Provides poor customer service

Therefore, take a look at your team members and ask yourself which ones exhibit the above traits. You can do this by merely observing them or using information from their performance reports.

How Do You Inspire an Underperforming Employee?

Now that you’ve discovered who the “weak links” are, your next move is to help them get back on track, right? Well, it is important to first understand the cause of the underperformance. You can then come up with an appropriate plan of action.

What Is Causing the Underperformance?

In some cases, you’ll find the reason behind the underperformance is beyond the employee’s control. For instance, the employee might not be performing simply because they don’t fully understand what is expected of them or they lack sufficient training.

Start by asking the following questions:

  •         Does the employee have the essential skills needed for the job?
  •         Does the employee fully know what is expected for their role?
  •         Did the company give the employee enough training before starting the job?
  •         Is it possible that their workload is too high?
  •         Could the employee be facing personal issues that hinder them from doing their job?
  •         Is there effective communication between the employee and management?
  •         Is there a motivation issue, like the employee wanting recognition or a promotion?

Most of these cases can be solved with a bit of training or improvement in communication. As an employer, it is your duty to ensure that the employees have all the tools necessary to accomplish the task at hand.

Tips for Managing Underperforming Employees

Here are a few steps you can take to handle the underperformance issues:

1. Active Listening

The only way you can identify what is really causing the underperformance is by actively listening to the employee. For best results, you want to use a friendly, informal approach. Employees feel motivated when they know that management is keen to listen to them without bias.

Start by asking how the employee is doing and whether something is bothering them. Remain neutral and empathetic, looking at the situation from their side. You can also involve their line manager or supervisor in the chat. Since they already have a working relationship, it might be easier talking through them. Finally, end the conversation with a note for improvement. Encourage the employee that they are free to voice their concerns whenever they want.

2. Consistent Feedback

Constructive criticism has been proven to encourage employees to perform well while making them feel fulfilled. It helps them know where they are doing well and which areas still need improvement.

The key here is to do it regularly. During the time, make sure you let the employee voice their opinions or concerns.

3. Personalized Training

If you discover that the underperformance is due to insufficient training, your best move would be to offer personalized training while tracking changes in performance. Teaching some underrated skills, such as soft skills in presentation and communication, can go a long way in improving employee morale and performance.

Once you identify where they fall short, focus on addressing those specific weaknesses. This should help solve the problem.

4. Clear Expectations

Ensure that the employee knows the objectives that they are expected to meet so they can actively work towards achieving them. By the end of the chat, they should have a holistic understanding of where they fit in the organization as well as how their contribution impacts the organization.

5. Performance Goals

Next up is to lay out the performance goals together with the employee. The trick is to use techniques like SMART. This means the performance indicators should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

It is crucial that you involve the employee in setting their own goals. This way, they’ll be more committed to achieving the goal.

6. Effective Recruitment

Often, you’ll find underperformance tracing back to the onboarding process.  Either the employee’s skills were not matched to the role assigned when hiring, or they were not clearly told what is expected of them. In this case, you’ll need to restructure your recruitment or onboarding process.

When recruiting, always check that the employee has the required skills. Ultimately, this will result in a quality team of workers.

7. “Silent” Aide

Sometimes, assigning a “silent” aide to the underperforming employee may be the best solution. This can be in the form of an employee who is in the same department that can help mentor them. Just keep in mind that the aide should still be able to execute their own role without distraction.

8. Recognition

The reason for underperformance can also be because the employee gets no incentives or rewards for a job well done. Naturally, the employee feels unappreciated and gradually stops making any effort. You can solve this by setting up a recognition program to keep your employees motivated to do better.

9. Disciplinary Action

It is important to follow up with a second meeting to review their performance. Here is where you go over the previously set goals and give respective feedback. If the employee is still unwilling to improve, then disciplinary action can be taken. This can be through a formal warning or even termination of employment. Of course, this has to follow the guidelines set in the company’s policy. Always keep a written record of the discussions that you have with the employee in case the information is required in the future.

10. Predict Applicant Success With Sprockets

A seasonal employee at a restaurantSometimes the cause of an underperforming employee could be due to them not having the right company fit. If that’s the case for some underperforming employees, let Sprockets AI-powered platform assist in the hiring quality of your future talent. Our applicant matching software is used to find applicants based on the top-performing employees in your company and reduce employee turnover. Improving your hiring process today won’t only save you time, but also save your company money in the long run. Schedule a demo today to learn more!

A restaurant worker and text reading, "What Are the Traits of Engaged Employees?"

What Are the Traits of Engaged Employees?

What Are the Traits of Engaged Employees? 1016 528 Sprockets

Often underrated, engaged employees are one of the greatest assets you can have as a business owner or operator. These select individuals are highly motivated and enthusiastic about what they do. They go the extra mile in making sure their deliverables are met, ultimately translating to better productivity and profits for your organization.

Engaged individuals are also generally more pleasant to be around. They are like a breath of fresh air in the workplace, making it enjoyable and lively for everyone coming to work. It is vital that you learn to identify engaged employees and spot those whose engagement is lacking so you can work out a strategy on how to increase overall productivity. Now, while there are a lot of distinguishable traits that can help identify engaged employees, we will take a look at the ones that actually matter.

What Defines an Engaged Employee?

An engaged employee can best be described as an individual who is highly driven and motivated to do their work well. Engaged employees have a deep emotional commitment to fulfilling their role, helping their team, and achieving company goals. They connect to your organization’s missions and actively work toward making a contribution to its success.

From that definition alone, it is pretty easy to spot an engaged employee. It will be the person who’s always running up and down, doing the most in the organization. You’ll find them following up on ongoing projects, offering suggestions and feedback even without being prompted. All in all, engaged individuals do not shy away from responsibilities. They always do their best to give satisfactory output.

While these traits might seem minor, they can go a long way in keeping your business ahead of the competition.

Characteristics of Highly Engaged Teams and Employees Include

While there are several traits that can be linked to engaged employees, here are the most fundamental traits you’ll spot:

1. Reliable

Engaged employees can always be trusted to deliver on time. Whenever they have a task delegated or assigned to them, they will do it wholeheartedly and see to its completion regardless of the circumstances. They will carry out the task with a positive mindset because they believe their objectives are aligned with those of the organization.

2. Positive

These are the employees that harbor the “can-do” approach to any task assigned to them. They are open to new, challenging assignments and have the emotional capacity to handle them without complaining.

Engaged employees carry with them an aura of positivity, and they are always happy to be at the workplace. You won’t find them quarreling, or making excuses for failed tasks. Basically, they seemingly work toward easing your burden as a manager.

3. Collaborative

These sorts of employees are always happy to assist when needed and are great team players. Since their goals align with those of the organization, they will happily work with others to get the job done, rather than only focus on their own duties.

Collaboration also means actually wanting other colleagues to achieve their goals while helping them get there. Engaged employees are quick to adapt and support each other even without the intervention of their superiors.

Overall, the workplace becomes more pleasant for workers. Productivity also increases since employees are working together instead of competing against each other.

4. Motivated

Whenever a project begins, an engaged employee will be fully committed to seeing it through. These employees show up on time, even working additional hours until their share of work is complete.

Such employees are willing to do difficult tasks without any resentment. They know almost all the processes within the organization, even in different departments.

5. Resilient

In the case of a setback, engaged employees always bounce back quickly. They take setbacks as lessons and learn how to prevent them from recurring.

They are great students of change and are often the ones encouraging their colleagues to keep up and not get disheartened. Ultimately, by fostering such work ethic, your organization and its various departments learn how to better handle downtime.

6. Innovative

These employees do not back down from challenges. They face them head-on and come up with new and creative ways of solving them. This means being able to see beyond the day-to-day tasks and embrace the bigger picture. By doing so, it inspires fresh ideas. An engaged employee will think outside the box and take calculated risks for the sake of improving the organization.

7. Well-Spoken

Effective communication keeps the workflow easy and open throughout the organization. People are able to express their ideas and concerns and ultimately inspire improvements. Engaged employees are able to do this effortlessly. They are not afraid to share their opinions with their peers or higher-level colleagues.

Communication skills also include being a good listener. An engaged employee will take and give constructive feedback and know the exact role they play in the organization. Instead of relying on speculations and assumptions, engaged employees seek clarity in everything they do, leading to efficient operations.

What You Should Do If Your Employees Are Disengaged

While not everybody can be an engaged employee right from the start, that doesn’t mean you give up on them. Some of them just need a little push to get there. Below are some proven ways to improve employee engagement:

1. Mentorship Programs

Mentorship programs are some of the best ways of instilling values or educating a group of individuals. You can start by establishing a program that focuses on improving your employees’ weaknesses and boosting their strengths.

A great way to do this would be having them choose a leader or colleague in the organization who excels where they are weak. This will give them a chance to grow and track their progress.

2. Recognition

Another great way of boosting employee morale is by giving them recognition when they do a good job or achieve a milestone. This will let your employees know they are valued and even increase team participation. You can achieve this via simple things, such as congratulatory emails, bonuses, and mentions in company meetings.

3. Team Building

Employees take comfort knowing that their needs are listened to and that they have the support of the organization behind them. You can do this through team-building and empowerment programs.

Giving your employees a voice in key decisions revolving around their expertise makes them feel important. Team building will make them feel like they belong to the organization and are part of the team. You can come up with simple routines, like outings for lunch-and-learns or delegating other important tasks to other members of the team.

Hire the Best Workers From the Start

Restaurant workers in a team meeting

Finding engaged employees really starts with sourcing the right talent from the beginning. At Sprockets, we believe that it is crucial to find someone who meshes with your team and fits into the company with their attitude, work ethic, and values.

We have developed AI-powered software that makes finding good employees easier than ever. Our applicant matching software does this by analyzing your top talent and identifying the most suitable applicants for your organization. Also, Sprockets allows you to keep open positions in front of the applicants who best fit your organization with our virtual recruiter and sourcing tools. To learn more, feel free to contact one of our platform experts today for a free demo.

Anxious woman sitting with hands against her temples. A teal banner with text below reads: Why Mental Health in the Workplace Matters: What You Need to Know

Why Mental Health in the Workplace Matters: What You Need to Know

Why Mental Health in the Workplace Matters: What You Need to Know 1016 528 Sprockets

It’s easy to get swept up in the numbers, but employers must be able to take a step back and prioritize the well-being of their employees. Mental health is an often-overlooked yet significantly impactful factor in maintaining a happy, healthy, productive team. If you’re feeling anxious, hopeless, or irritable, understand that you are not alone. 1 in 5 adults — approximately 47 million people — struggle with mental health, and those numbers are only increasing. Nearly half of all U.S. workers have been suffering from mental health issues since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. When one’s mental state is unhealthy, it can affect relationships with their family, friends, co-workers, and even customers. Simply put, it’s crucial to promote mental health in the workplace, so read on to learn more and discover ideas for supporting your workforce.  

Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace

Mental health is health. It’s just as important as physical health, and yet, it’s not always taken as seriously as it should be, particularly in the workplace. This can lead to a negative stigma surrounding mental health and well-being. According to Forbes, 62% of workers are afraid to take a mental health day because they’re worried that their employers won’t take them seriously. Many employees also fear that taking a mental health day will make them appear lazy. However, taking a mental health day off is actually one of the best ways to de-stress, relax, and recharge your mind for a more productive workday. 

How to Promote Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace

Studies show there is a clear relationship between job satisfaction and employees’ mental health: “Poor mental health impairs job performance and interpersonal communication… it may have negative effects not only on job satisfaction but also on the safety and quality of services.” 

Additionally, working long hours has a negative effect on mental health and often manifests in severe stress and depression. Unlike physical injuries, you cannot see if a person is hurting on the inside. It’s crucial employers value mental well-being to create a healthy environment. 

Here are a few ways to support mental health in the workplace:

  • Open Discussions 
    • Prioritizing mental well-being is nothing to be ashamed of. As an owner, operator, or manager, start an open discussion with your employees either as a group or during a one on one. Showing that you care about them as a person — not just an employee — will help them feel comfortable taking a mental health day off. 
  • Promote Health Days
    • A traditional “sick day” implies a physical illness, which can create anxiety when an individual needs a mental health day. Instead, some companies have started to promote “health days” to combat this connotation. 
  • Implement Mental Health Awareness Training
    • Understanding the importance of mental health is crucial if you want to create a positive, comfortable company culture. Mental health awareness training for employees, as well as mental health awareness for employers, provides useful tools to manage stress and levels of anxiety and/or depression. In some training, workers learn how to support someone experiencing negative mental health effects. 
  • Offer Access to Mental Health Programs
    • Consider offering your employees access to mental health programs such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP often provides employees with therapy and counseling services at little to no charge. This safe-net can lead to reduced stress and increased productivity in the workplace.

Support Your Employees

Whatever industry you occupy, your employees’ physical and mental well-being play a crucial role in day-to-day success. Mental health in the workplace should not have negative stigma, especially when it comes to your employees. After all, we are only human. Reach out to third parties like Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) if you are especially concerned about a team member. 

A happy man on his phone with text reading "Improve Retention With Our New Background Checks Integration"

Improve Retention With Sprockets’ New Background Checks Integration – Powered by ClearChecks

Improve Retention With Sprockets’ New Background Checks Integration – Powered by ClearChecks 1016 528 Sprockets

Hire the ideal team members, reduce employee turnover, and increase productivity by running background checks from directly within the Sprockets platform! This integration with ClearChecks allows you to verify an applicant’s past and predict their likelihood of success in one convenient place. You’ll spend less time and money during the screening process, allowing you to allocate those resources elsewhere.

Save 50% on Background Checks

Sprockets users save an average of 50% on background checks compared to the leading providers. We’re offering this feature at-cost, empowering you to put funds toward other aspects of your business rather than overspending on screening. Take advantage of our preferred pricing and use the savings for marketing, team-building activities, or even expanding your team to keep up with demand.

Get Precise Information With the Click of a Button

This integration with ClearChecks also reduces the time you spend on recruiting by providing you with everything you need to know about applicants. You’ll see information about their pasts as well as their futures with our combination of background checks and fit scores. You get to decide which applicants are worth interviewing and which ones aren’t, helping you find the ideal applicants with fewer interviews. Plus, it results in higher quality interviews because you’ll know the best questions to ask before speaking with them.

See What Others Say About Sprockets

We have a proven track record of our own with numerous happy customers who have improved retention with the Sprockets platform. Here’s what one of them had to say about our solution:

“It helps us make better hiring choices, and we love the personality breakdowns that Sprockets gives us for each applicant.”

–  Jimmy Johns Franchise Representative

Start Building the Best Teams Today

Sprockets background checksCheck the pasts of your applicants to improve the future of your business! Visit our page on background checks to learn more about this feature and join the long list of Sprockets users who have achieved success with our AI-powered hiring solution. You can even schedule a free demo to see it in action. We look forward to helping you hire the ideal applicants and improve retention.

A Gen Z worker on his phone with text reading "5 Tips for Managing Generation Z Employees in the Workplace"

5 Tips for Managing Generation Z Employees in the Workplace

5 Tips for Managing Generation Z Employees in the Workplace 1016 528 Sprockets

Generation Z is making its way into the business world with tremendous strides, but are you managing members of this group to the best of your ability? Every generation is unique, so owners and operators must adapt their management styles to bring out the best in these new employees. Defined as any individual born after 1997, Gen Zers can be vastly different from Millennials. They’ve had separate sets of life experiences that molded them into the people they are today, which could also affect how they view companies and behave at work.

So, the question remains: What are the best tips for managing Generation Z employees in the workplace? Find out below to start increasing productivity and improving retention!

Managing Gen Z Employees in the Workplace

1. Hire the Ideal Gen Z Workers for Your Business

The oldest Gen Zers are in their late teens and early twenties, which means many of them are searching for entry-level positions that typically involve hourly pay. That’s great news for industries such as fast-food service, home health care, and retail, which rely on hiring young, energetic individuals. 

However, it’s still crucial to be selective about who you hire. Onboarding employees quickly to save time can end up wasting more resources when workers don’t meet expectations. That’s why you should utilize tools such as Sprockets’ AI-powered platform with a sophisticated applicant matching system. It reveals which applicants are likely to succeed and stay long-term, ultimately improving retention and making it easier to manage Gen Z employees. It even includes free job postings to help augment sourcing efforts!

2. Maintain a Positive Company Culture

As with most generations, Gen Z is looking to work for businesses that cultivate positive company cultures. They’d like to enjoy the work they do and feel valued, which ultimately leads to higher productivity, better team morale, and more employee engagement with Gen Z workers. Take time to get to know your employees, request feedback on your management style, encourage diversity, and recognize hard work. (You can find even more ideas for creating Generation Z’s preferred work environment in our blog on 10 Tips for Creating a Positive Company Culture!)

3. Allow for Work-Life Balance

Similar to company culture, Gen Z employees also seek positions at businesses that allow them to maintain a work-life balance. As much as someone might love their job, it’s important to provide breaks, PTO, and flexible schedules so they can lead healthy lives outside of work hours. Otherwise, you risk burnout, reduced productivity, and even costly employee turnover.

4. Ease Health Concerns in the Workplace

As we mentioned earlier, every generation has unique life experiences that can influence their outlook and behavior. In this case, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely one of the most impactful events for Generation Z. In a Pew Research Center study conducted in March 2020, half of Gen Zers from age 18 to 23 stated that they, or a member of their household, had been financially affected by the pandemic. Another report by Deloitte explains that worries about health and finances are growing concerns among Gen Z. Make sure you implement processes that ease concerns around job stability and health — both physical and mental health.

5. Embrace Technology

Technology also plays a major role in the lives of Gen Zers, with smartphones and social media platforms at the forefront of their daily routines. It’s critical for managers to embrace this movement and use digital tools that improve the workplace environment. Check out our blog on How to Use HR Tech to Elevate Your Company Culture for some ideas.

Attract and Retain the Best Gen Zers With Sprockets

The Sprockets platformIt makes a significant difference in managing and motivating Gen Z employees at work when you hire the best applicants from the start. That’s why we created Sprockets, an AI-powered platform that finds the ideal applicants based on a unique success profile for your business. It’s convenient, precise, and proven to work, helping users improve employee retention by an average of 43%. 

See what our happy customers say about it, including owners and operators from top brands like McDonald’s, then schedule a demo to enjoy the same success!

A fast food service worker and text reading "How to Retain Employees: Lessons From Top Franchises"

How to Retain Employees: Lessons From Top Franchises

How to Retain Employees: Lessons From Top Franchises 1016 528 Sprockets

It can cost $5,864 every time an employee leaves your company, according to a study by The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University. Plus, you must consider the “hidden” costs of turnover, like lost productivity, reduced team morale, and worse customer service. It’s time to turn the tides on turnover and learn how to retain employees. And, there’s no better way to discover employee retention strategies than by looking at some of the top franchises.

Explore a few options below or simply do what many successful franchise owners and operators have done to improve employee retention: Use Sprockets. Our AI-powered platform is proven to reduce costly turnover by revealing which applicants are the most likely to succeed and stay long-term.

Learn How to Retain Employees

McDonald’s

This fast-food giant has the solution to your hunger, and they believe they’ve found an answer for improving employee retention as well. In recent years, McDonald’s has increased wages and offered more enticing employee benefits. Crew members can enjoy hourly pay that’s slightly above minimum wage as well as paid vacation and a tuition assistance program. The franchise plans to raise overall wages to an average of $15 per hour by 2024. What makes these incentives particularly compelling is that they are offered to all workers — both part-time and full-time employees.

Chick-fil-A

If we look at Chick-fil-A’s business model, you’ll find a 60-year-old initiative to retain high-quality employees by creating and maintaining positive workplace cultures. It all starts with a focus on recruiting applicants who are the right fit for Chick-fil-A’s culture. Hiring managers look for matching traits in the three C’s: character, competency, and chemistry. Participation in Chick-fil-A’s company culture also goes beyond the front-line workers. Leaders must value open communication with all team members, and every guest should feel as if they are part of the positive environment at each location.

ComForCare

High employee turnover is not only a concern for QSR franchises. The problem extends to the home health care field as well. In fact, Home Care Pulse reported that caregiver turnover hit an all-time high of 82% in 2018. Luckily, some top franchises and business owners have implemented strategies to tackle their turnover rates. One example includes Mark Turnbull of ComForCare, who has increased training opportunities, consistently monitors retention rates, conducts exit interviews, and tries to match caregivers with patients to create the best possible relationships and work environments.

Top Franchise Brands Trust Sprockets to Improve Retention

Cellphones with fit scores to help with recruiting employeesAll of these three franchise brands (and many more) trust Sprockets’ AI-powered platform to improve employee retention by an average of 43%. Our sophisticated solution augments sourcing efforts and reveals which applicants are the ideal fit for your business — before you even interview them. It finds the common thread between your top performers and potential hires, enabling you to make better hiring decisions and reduce costly turnover.

Schedule a free demo today to improve employee retention like these franchise brands have done!

Restaurant workers and text reading "How to Create an Effective Employee Engagement Plan"

Here’s How to Create an Effective Employee Engagement Plan

Here’s How to Create an Effective Employee Engagement Plan 1016 528 Sprockets

It might seem daunting to develop a new employee engagement plan from scratch, but it’s a crucial step to achieving success with any business. The benefits, alone, should motivate you to get together with your leadership team and brainstorm some ideas. Employees who feel more connected with their team members and the workplace can be healthier, happier, and more productive!

While it’s challenging to develop a custom employee engagement plan for your business, it makes a huge difference when you start with the right workers. Sprockets helps you build teams that mesh and work well together by revealing the common thread between top employees and incoming applicants. Schedule a demo today!

What Is Employee Engagement?

Simply put, employee engagement refers to the level of dedication and commitment that someone feels in relation to their workplace. There are various strategies to increase employee engagement among team members, all of which you should consider when creating your plan. After all, every business owner wants workers who sincerely care about their work and contribute their fair share of effort toward achieving company goals.

A Guide to Developing an Employee Engagement Plan

Recruitment

First of all, ensure that you highlight the company’s mission and core values in job postings that follow best practices for recruitment. By clearly outlining the type of environment a future employee would experience, you will attract more like-minded people to apply. Plus, it weeds out those who will not be a good fit – before it’s too late.

Example: Sprockets is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that values innovation, sustainability, and individual growth. Our employees are driven by new ideas, are compassionate, and challenge traditional values to bring about positive change.

Onboarding

Outlining the onboarding process, beyond filling out paperwork and going over where to find the fire exits, is crucial to adding a new employee to an established team.

Example: New marketing employees have weekly meetings with their manager to discuss personal development opportunities and any questions, comments, or concerns with workload or environment. During the first week of employment, the marketing team will go out to lunch with the new employee. The marketing team will have quarterly outings to encourage camaraderie and transparency between departments.

Goal Setting

Outlining goals for a position gives an employee a sense of purpose. Tying their goals directly to the company’s goals and values is a way to effectively display the impact of their work and why they are essential to the company.

Example: The marketing coordinator is responsible for creating content and emails to fuel the sales team with leads. With a company goal of 100 new customers in Q2, the marketing team will need to generate 1,000 leads.

Communication From Leadership

Planning quarterly staff meetings with employees from every department and level is an excellent way to show transparency and build engagement. When employees see the bigger picture outside of their daily tasks, it gives them a greater sense of purpose.

Example: You’re invited to our quarterly meeting! We will share an overview of our company goals and accomplishments for the past quarter as well as introduce plans for the upcoming quarter.

Recognition Programs

Employee recognition can significantly increase employee engagement. From giving someone a shout-out to submitting a nomination for a company-wide meeting, it always helps to recognize hard work. Employees will return the favor with even more great work and motivation.

Example: We will recognize one or more hard-working employees at each weekly meeting for their contribution. In the monthly newsletter, directors from each department will submit the name of an employee who has gone above and beyond in order to reach goals. Employees also get the opportunity to nominate their coworkers for recognition in one of three categories: innovation, team building, or going above and beyond. Winners will receive $50 gift cards.

Career Growth and Development

Whether someone has been with the company for 15 years or recently joined right out of college, all employees can benefit from personal development in the workplace. While not everyone will want to partake, those who do will appreciate it and likely become more engaged. Consider these strategies to improve employee engagement and reduce employee turnover:

  • Lunch-and-learns with a relevant speaker for specific departments
  • One-on-one coaching for new tools and technology
  • Matching new workers with an established employee as a go-to mentor
  • Setting aside time to discuss specific skills they’d like to learn

Performance Reviews

Did you know that 43% of highly engaged employees get feedback on their work once or more per week? Receiving feedback on work instills a sense of trust in employees. It shows that their work is being reviewed and appreciated. The other significant factor here is that engagement drops after an employee’s first year at an organization. By having set performance reviews, employees realize that leaders are still paying attention to their work.

Example: Schedule weekly check-ins and annual performance reviews. (An annual review should not be the first time that an employee hears a piece of feedback.)

Build the Best Team From the Start

Cellphones with fit scores to help with recruiting employeesIt’s crucial to hire applicants who will mesh well, succeed, and stay long-term, ultimately making it much easier to maintain high employee engagement. It makes an immense difference in workplace culture, too.

That’s where Sprockets comes into play. Our AI-powered solution creates a unique success profile for your business based on the mental makeup of your best employees. Then, incoming applicants are matched against this benchmark to ensure you hire the best candidates every time with pinpoint precision. (The average Sprockets user reduces costly annual employee turnover by 22%!)

Schedule a brief demo today to improve employee retention and engagement.

A doctor and patient with text reading "Can Employers Require the COVID-19 Vaccine?"

Can Employers Require the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Can Employers Require the COVID-19 Vaccine? 1016 528 Sprockets

It’s been on the minds of workers, job seekers, and business owners since vaccines became available: Can employers require a COVID-19 vaccine for their employees? While about half of the adult population in the U.S. has received at least one dose, several people have not been vaccinated due to medical reasons, personal preference, religion, or lack of availability.

Still, some U.S. employers have begun developing COVID-19 vaccination policies in line with information from the FDA, CDC, EEOC, and other regulatory bodies. Let’s take a shot at explaining everything you need to know about this complex situation.

What You Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

EEOC Guidelines

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers can require COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees entering the workplace. It does not explicitly forbid mandatory vaccination programs.

Nevertheless, employers must accommodate employees with exemption requests due to religious beliefs or medical reasons. This may include wearing a mask, social distancing, or working from home.

FAQ: Can the CDC Mandate COVID-19 Vaccinations for Employees?

As an arm of the federal government, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not mandate vaccinations or keep track of personal vaccination data. States, local governments, and employers can mandate COVID-19 vaccination programs, but only if it’s permissible under state and other applicable laws.

Employee Vaccination Incentives

Employers, corporations, and states are offering incentives to increase vaccination rates that include lottery tickets, passes to amusement parks, and even cash. These incentives must be limited in scope under the EEOC guidelines. It warns that “very large incentives” could make employees feel too pressured to reveal their protected medical data. 

Incentives must also comply with the ADA and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) as well as with federal, state, and local laws. Under the GINA, employers are not allowed to provide incentives to employees for convincing unvaccinated coworkers to get the shot.

Risks of Mandatory Vaccination Policies

Be aware that employers may be held responsible for workers’ compensation claims if subsequent injuries and illnesses are found to be related to the shots. This is where the situation becomes more complicated.

Employers who implement mandatory vaccination policies must consider that adverse reactions, requiring employees to seek medical intervention or rendering them unable to work, may be recorded on the OSHA logs if the illness or injury is related to the vaccine.

According to Brent Clark, a lawyer at Seyfarth Shaw, “If I’m going to go to the step of mandating the vaccine, then I’m going to own the reasonably foreseeable consequences that individuals may suffer or may result from that vaccination.”

Advice for Business Owners

Carefully assess the risk-to-reward ratio of implementing a mandatory vaccination program. Depending on your business, satisfying the compliance requirements may be more trouble than it’s worth. If you implement a requirement, make sure you inform staff about the process and explain how employees can submit requests for reasonable accommodations/exemptions for religious and medical reasons.

Finally, stay informed with the most up-to-date information. Regulatory agency guidance can change by the day!

Are You an Employer Struggling With Staffing Levels?

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Schedule a brief demo now to see how Sprockets helps you maintain optimal staffing levels!

A man putting a sign on a door and text reading "Which States Will Return to Work Soonest After COVID-19?"

Which States Will Return to Work Soonest After COVID-19?

Which States Will Return to Work Soonest After COVID-19? 1016 528 Sprockets

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in thousands of employees leaving the workforce via layoffs, furloughs, or resignations due to health concerns. Now, we are faced with a labor crisis that has people wondering, “Which states will return to work soonest after COVID-19?”

It’s a valid concern as more states begin to open back up to travel and tourism, encouraging a return to the “norm.” However, how can businesses keep up with consumer demand when it’s such a struggle to stabilize and maintain optimal staffing levels? Let’s examine which states are likely to see employment rise and explain what employers can do to get back to their norm.

Evaluating Which States Will Return to Work Soonest After COVID-19

Industries and Occupations Hit Hardest by the Pandemic

First, it’s important to take note of which industries COVID-19 impacted the most. After all, certain states rely more heavily on specific industries than others.

The unemployment rate in the U.S. reached a shocking 14.7% in April 2020, with an estimated 20.5 million jobs lost. Here are the eight occupational fields that saw the most significant drops in employment:

  1. Leisure and Hospitality
  2. Mining/Oil/Gas
  3. Travel and Transportation
  4. Construction
  5. Entertainment
  6. Laundry
  7. Self-Employment
  8. Manufacturing

States With the Highest Unemployment Rates

Now, fast forward to mid-2021 with a fresh look at unemployment rates by state, and we can gain even more insight into the effects of COVID-19. These are the 10 states with the highest rates of unemployment as of April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  1. Hawaii: 8.5%
  2. California: 8.3%
  3. New York: 8.2%
  4. New Mexico: 8.2%
  5. Connecticut: 8.1%
  6. Nevada: 8.0 %
  7. New Jersey: 7.5%
  8. District of Columbia: 7.5%
  9. Pennsylvania: 7.4%
  10. Louisiana: 7.3%

States Bouncing Back the Quickest

So, while unemployment rates have improved since being at a country-wide average of 14.7% in April 2020, there is still a long way to go before we return to the pre-pandemic average of 3.5%. However, with the rise in vaccination rates, reduction of unemployment benefits, and introduction of return-to-work incentives, some states have begun to bounce back.

WalletHub recently released findings on which states are making the biggest gains by comparing unemployment metrics from various dates relevant to the pandemic. Here are the top 10:

  1. South Dakota
  2. Utah
  3. Nebraska
  4. Vermont
  5. Idaho
  6. Kansas
  7. Montana
  8. Alabama
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Iowa

Hire and Retain the Best Workers

Two people shaking hands during an interviewThe country is on its way back to pre-pandemic norms in terms of employment rates, and Sprockets is doing what we do best to help get businesses back on track. Our AI-powered platform empowers owners and operators to find the ideal new hires. Plus, it augments sourcing with free job posting ($400+ value) and virtual recruiters that send immediate alerts when they discover candidates who would be excellent fits for their teams.

It’s not magic — it’s logic. Schedule a demo today to see how Sprockets reveals shared characteristics among top-performing employees and incoming applicants to improve retention!

Someone doing a job search on a laptop with text reading "The 10 Highest Unemployment Rates by State"

The 10 Highest Unemployment Rates by State

The 10 Highest Unemployment Rates by State 1016 528 Sprockets

Studying the unemployment rate by state midway through 2021 reveals which parts of the country are poised for economic recovery in a post-pandemic era. This can prove beneficial to both job seekers and business owners, especially while we’re in the midst of a labor crisis. The following list consists of states with the highest unemployment rates in America, according to April 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

State-by-State Unemployment Rate

1. Hawaii 8.5%

Even though Hawaii had the highest unemployment rate of any U.S. state in April 2021 at 8.5%, it was a considerable decline from the previous September when the figure spiked to 15%. Chief Economist Eugene Tan of the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism predicts the state will return to normal unemployment levels by November 2021. The state economy relies heavily on its tourism industry, which is expected to recover during the summer.

2. California 8.3%

The Golden State’s reopening for business on June 15 is expected to mark the beginning of a speedy recovery. Over 2.7 million jobs were lost in the state between March and April 2020. By the following April, 1.58 million Californians were still unemployed. Although the state has 11.8% of America’s workforce, it accounts for over 14% of jobless claims in the nation.

3. New York (8.2%)

New York state lost over 2 million jobs during the pandemic, but jobs are steadily returning in 2021. However, unemployment remains exceptionally high in New York City at over 11%. The worst period of joblessness, though, for the nation’s most populated city, was in 2020 at 15.5%. Tourism and hospitality were the industries most impacted by shutdowns.

4. New Mexico (8.2%)

One key reason why COVID-19 shutdowns have drastically affected New Mexico is that the state doesn’t have a high percentage of large corporations that employ thousands of workers. However, since the state has a relatively small and sparse population, only 78,000 residents were unemployed in April 2021. Some officials believe the state’s unemployment benefits are so comfortable that many people don’t want to return to work.

5. Connecticut (8.1%)

As far as job declines in the first half of 2021, Connecticut has suffered the worst, losing 9.7 percent of its workforce from February through April. That equates to a loss of about 188,000 jobs in a state that has had a minimal drop in its unemployment rate since the pandemic began. Overall, Connecticut’s workforce slid from 1.9 million to 1.6 million people over the past year.

6. Nevada (8.0%)

Since Nevada is a large state with a small population, its high unemployment rate is somewhat of a mirage driven by thousands of lost jobs in Las Vegas, the state’s only major metropolitan area. The gambling destination had an unemployment rate of nearly 12% in November 2020, while the state’s overall jobless rate stood at 6.8% by the end of the year. At that point, 1.35 million of the state’s 1.48 million workers had jobs. Potential areas for growth areas that will help the states’ recovery process are mining, logging, business services, manufacturing, and construction.

7. New Jersey (7.5%)

Similar to other states with popular tourist attractions, New Jersey has been hit hard by travel shutdowns, particularly in the hospitality industry. Traditionally, it’s been a commuter state as well, with many residents crossing the state line to work in New York City. New Jersey’s beaches and casinos usually attract heavy tourism in the summer, which will be a key indicator this year for the state’s turnaround. Prior to the pandemic, the Garden State had an unemployment rate of 3.2%, while the national figure was 3.7%.

8. Pennsylvania (7.4%)

One of Pennsylvania’s main problems with unemployment is that many small businesses, including restaurants, can’t find workers to fill jobs. Employers believe the extra $300 per week federal pandemic benefits have slowed down unemployed people’s ambitions to return to work, resulting in a massive labor shortage. Consequently, business leaders will likely put pressure on lawmakers to end the moratorium in which individuals must prove they are looking for work to receive unemployment compensation.

9. Louisiana (7.3%)

Louisiana is trying to lower its high jobless rate by encouraging people to get back to work and discontinuing federal handouts. While 25 Republican governors in the country had made plans to cut federal unemployment benefits by June 2021, John Bel Edwards of Louisiana became the first Democratic governor to join them. States may continue receiving funds from the federal program until September 6, 2021, to pay unemployed individuals an additional $300 per week.

10. Illinois (7.1%)

As one of the worst-stricken states for job losses throughout the pandemic, Illinois’ unemployment rate soared as high as 16.4% in April 2020. By December, the rate had fallen to 7.6% and has continued to decrease. Nearly one million people in the state were unemployed in April 2020, but a year later, the number dropped to around 438,000.

Stabilize Staffing Levels With Sprockets

The Sprockets platformWhen we analyze the state-by-state unemployment rate, we get a clearer picture of how the pandemic shutdowns have affected jobs and certain industries. Nevertheless, signs of economic recovery are evident across the nation, and Sprockets can help businesses achieve healthy staffing levels once again.

Sprockets augments sourcing via free job postings ($400 value) and reveals which applicants are the ideal fit for your team. The AI-powered platform empowers you to hire the perfect candidates every time, ultimately improving employee retention and allowing operators to focus on important daily tasks rather than dealing with an endless cycle of turnover.

Schedule a free demo today to jumpstart your business’s recovery in the post-pandemic era.