I Replaced Myself with an AI Writer

I Replaced Myself with an AI Writer

Inspired by this wonderful piece of work by George Weiner of Whole Whale, I spent some time this past weekend exploring the OpenAI-based writers to see what kind of content I could produce. I lack the programming and analytics skills of George and Whole Whale, but I wanted to see what kind of no-code tools were available in order to level-set the quality and usability for myself.

My goal for this article is to show my process of generating content via an AI tool and also show the difference between my own writing vs. the writing of the AI. The AI tool I used for this is Jasper.ai. I also spent some time with Rytr.me and Peppertype.ai, but I’m finding Jasper.ai (who I’ll refer to as just “Jasper” from here forward) to be my preferred AI content tool thus far.

I have used Jasper to write various portions of this article from here forward. You will see three (3) different text formats going forward:

  1. My writing for this article 
  2. My writing for the sample article
  3. Jasper’s writing 

What is OpenAI?

open ai logo

First, I figured it might be useful to explain OpenAI to readers, so I asked Jasper, “What is OpenAI?” Five seconds later, I got this: 

OpenAI is an artificial intelligence research laboratory consisting of the for-profit corporation OpenAI LP and its parent company, the nonprofit OpenAI Inc. OpenAI was founded in December 2015, with the goal of advancing artificial intelligence in a responsible way. In particular, they aim to avoid any negative consequences that may arise from the uncontrolled development of AI. One way they are doing this is by researching and developing safe artificial intelligence technologies. Another way is by sharing their research with the broader AI community, in the hopes that others will also develop safe AI technologies. OpenAI believes that content generation is one area where artificial intelligence can have a positive impact. They are working on developing algorithms that can automatically generate high-quality content, such as articles, videos, and music.

Joshua again. OpenAI sells access, via an  API, (application programming interface), to a product called GPT-3. GPT stands for “Generative Pre-trained Transformer” and the 3 is because GPT-3 is the third generation of the product. GPT-1 was introduced in 2018, GPT-2 in 2019, and GPT-3 in 2020. Each generation of GPT has been orders of magnitude more capable than its predecessor. GPT-3. According to OpenAPI, there were over 300 commercial applications using GPT-3 as of May 2021.  

How I set up my test

Now, in the Whole Whale example, George trained his AI using a large dataset of his own content. In effect, he trained an AI version of himself. None of the tools I tried support anything like this, but Jasper suggested a workaround that involved the following steps:

  1. Feeding a few hundred words of my own writing into Jasper
  2. Asking Jasper to describe the “tone of voice” of my writing sample
  3. Copying the descriptors Jasper outputted (in my case, “informative and helpful”)
  4. Asking Jasper “what famous person’s tone of voice matches those descriptors”

And the famous person whose tone of voice most matches my own?

Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Quite flattering, to be sure, but clearly not realistic. For the purposes of this article, however, I went with it. Setting my tone of voice to “Martin Luther King, Jr.” I asked Jasper to “write an outline for replacing myself with an AI content generator.” Five seconds later:

I replaced myself with an OpenAI-based content generator for a day to see what would happen. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was definitely curious about how well an AI could do my job. Turns out, the AI did a pretty good job! In fact, there were only a few areas where it struggled. Overall, I was impressed with its performance. If you’re curious to see what an AI content generator can do for you, keep reading!

My AI-written article


For the purposes of this article, I am staying away from my normal field of writing (nonprofit technology and cybersecurity), and instead of keeping it light by writing a post specifically to a question posed by a colleague in one of my online communities yesterday, “What’s your favorite, go-to, weeknight easy-peasy dinner?”

Let’s start with my own first response to the easy weeknight dinner question – again, the bold text is my own writing.

My favorite quick dinner is Speedy Fish Chowder with freshly baked Jim Lahey no-knead bread. This is a bit of a cheat because the no-knead bread does require a one-minute prep 12-24 hours ahead of time and then another 2-minute prep 2 hours ahead of time. But other than that, the fish chowder and no-knead bread is quick, easy and delicious. I think it’s best with shrimp and haddock, but hey, you do you.

Now it’s Jasper’s turn.

I start by rephrasing the question into something that I think will produce the content I want. I asked Jasper to write me a title and an introduction paragraph for “My five favorite quick and easy weeknight dinners.” Five seconds later, I got this:

My Five Favorite Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinners

After a long day of work, the last thing I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen preparing dinner. That’s why these five quick and easy weeknight dinners are my go-to recipes. They’re all delicious, and most of them can be made in 30 minutes or less! If you’re looking for some easy meal ideas, then you’ll want to check out these recipes.

Then I asked Jasper to write me an outline based on this introduction. Five seconds later, I got this:

1. Grilled cheese and tomato soup 2. Spaghetti and meatballs 3. Turkey and avocado wraps 4. Salmon with rice and vegetables 5. Chicken Caesar salad These are my five favorite quick and delicious weeknight recipes. They are all simple to make, and can be on the table in less than an hour. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is my all-time favorite comfort food. Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic dish that always hits the spot. Turkey and avocado wraps are a healthy and flavorful option for a busy night. Salmon with rice and vegetables is a nutritious meal that is also easy to prepare. And chicken Caesar salad is a light but satisfying dish that can be made in no time at all. These recipes are sure to please everyone in the family, and make weeknight dinners a breeze.

My next step was to take each of Jasper’s five meals and prompt Jasper with them. First up: “recipe for quick and easy grilled cheese and tomato soup”. Five seconds later,

1. Grilled cheese and tomato soup

A grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup is one of the classic comfort food combinations. The warm, cheesy toast pairs perfectly with the rich, flavorful soup, making it a wonderful meal for a cold day. Plus, it’s easy to make at home with just a few simple ingredients. To make the perfect grilled cheese and tomato soup, start by cooking some diced onion and garlic in a bit of oil until softened. Then add canned diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and tomato paste. Season the soup with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your grilled cheese sandwiches. Start by spreading some butter on two slices of bread. Add your favorite cheese to each slice, then put the sandwiches in a hot skillet. Cook the sandwiches until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, then enjoy with a bowl of Tomato soup!

My own next recipe suggestion is this:

Sheet-pan chicken with cumin, turmeric and chickpeas. More cheating. This time because you do need to marinate the chicken ahead of time (I usually do it the night before). But all the rest is easy-peasy. This one is hard to mess up and is super yummy. 

Back to Jasper. I asked Jasper for a “recipe for quick and easy spaghetti and meat sauce.” Five seconds later,

2. Spaghetti and meat sauce

This recipe for quick and easy Spaghetti and meatballs is perfect for a busy weeknight. I start by browning some ground beef in a large skillet. While the beef is cooking, I add some garlic, onion, and tomato sauce to the pan. I then add a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of tomato soup. To this mixture, I add some salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. I then bring the sauce to a boil and add the cooked spaghetti. I top it off with some grated Parmesan cheese and serve it with a side of garlic bread. This recipe is sure to please even the pickiest eaters.

Back to me.

My next three are also all cheats. These are all slow cooker recipes that I make in our InstantPot (which on some days I love just slightly less than I love my children).

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili (I add sausage as well)

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup With Sausage and Greens (I love beans, greens and sausage in all forms)

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

Back to the AI for Jasper’s final three recipes, same process, five seconds for each one.

3. Turkey and avocado wraps

These quick and easy Turkey and avocado wraps are the perfect solution for a healthy lunch on the go. Simply take a whole wheat tortilla, spread on some mashed avocado, and top with thinly sliced turkey breast. Add some leafy greens and a sprinkle of shredded cheese, and you’re good to go. These wraps are packed with protein and healthy fats, making them a satisfying and nutritious option for a mid-day meal. Plus, they’re easy to customize with your favorite fillings. So whether you’re headed to the office or the gym, these Turkey and avocado wraps will give you the energy you need to power through your day.

4. Salmon with rice and vegetables

If you’re looking for a delicious, healthy meal that you can make in a hurry, this recipe for quick and easy Salmon with rice and vegetables is the perfect solution. It’s packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and the rice and vegetables provide complex carbohydrates and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Plus, it’s ready in just 30 minutes! To make this dish, simply brown some rice in a pan, then add some frozen vegetables and cooked salmon. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, then serve. This recipe is sure to become a weeknight staple in your household! Bon appétit!

5. Chicken Caesar salad

For a quick and easy Chicken Caesar salad, start with a bed of romaine lettuce. Then top with grilled chicken, shredded Parmesan cheese, croutons, and your favorite Caesar dressing. For an extra touch of flavor, add a sprinkle of black pepper. This healthy and flavorful salad is perfect for a busy weeknight meal. And it’s also a great way to use up leftover grilled chicken. So the next time you’re looking for a quick and easy recipe, give this Chicken Caesar salad a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Finally, I asked Jasper to “write a conclusion.” Five seconds later…

It’s a tough decision to decide what to cook for dinner. The five dinners we’ve provided are quick, delicious and easy to prepare so you can spend more time with your loved ones or relaxing after work rather than in the kitchen. Whether you’re looking for comfort food like grilled cheese and tomato soup or something healthy like salmon with rice and vegetables, we’ve got you covered. So next time you’re wondering what to make for dinner, give one of these recipes a try. You won’t be disappointed!

Would I write with AI full-time? 

full time ai writing assistant

I’ve only been working with Jasper for a few days, but I am amazed at how easily I can create usable content with Jasper. In fact, my experience of working with Jasper feels like my first glimpse at something like true AGI (artificial general intelligence). I watched this fifteen-minute video yesterday by the delightful (and very excited) Cailin and it left me gobsmacked in two ways:

  1. How quickly and easily Cailin makes usable content
  2. How Cailin used the AI to answer an actual question she had for herself (how do I start a gluten free diet) by basically asking Jasper to write her a blog post answering her question.

It’s this second function, meaningfully answering a complex question that you know little to nothing about, that blew me away. My experience over the past few days has felt like a glimpse into the AI-assisted future. I fully plan on using Jasper to generate first drafts of dozens of blog posts which I will then edit to (hopefully) improve and add my own personality. But some of the language Jasper has already produced from my prompts is, honestly, better than what I would have written myself. Humbling, but also awesome, in every sense of the word awesome. And of course, Jasper is going to rapidly and radically improve. I’m not sure I can say the same about myself. 

So, that’s my conclusion. What’s funny is that Jasper seems much more critical of AI’s current talent than I am. I’ll let Jasper have the last word on the subject. Here are Jasper’s “thoughts”, generated by my prompt to “write a conclusion on AI vs. human generated content.”

In conclusion, there are several important differences between writing produced by a human being and writing generated by an AI. The key difference between writing generated by a human and writing generated by an AI is the capacity for creativity. While an AI can follow grammar rules and construct cohesive sentences, it lacks the ability to generate new ideas. For this reason, AI-generated writing tends to be repetitive and formulaic. In contrast, human beings are constantly generating new thoughts and ideas. We are able to see the world around us in new ways and express ourselves in original ways. This capacity for creativity is what sets human beings apart from machines. It is what allows us to create works of art, literature, and beauty. So long as we continue to value creativity, there will always be a place for human beings in the world of writing.

Cryptocurrency Donations – Opportunities & Concerns for Nonprofits

Crypto, crypto, crypto, blah, blah, blah. 

Most of us have been hearing about cryptocurrency for years. For those nonprofits who haven’t started accepting cryptocurrency donations already, you might be getting nervous. You’re wondering if you’re missing the boat or if you’re wisely avoiding the newest shiny object. 

Some days it seems like everyone is accepting cryptocurrency.

That is certainly not true (yet), but what is true is that there is a meaningful opportunity in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space. According to a recent report from The Giving Block, Nonprofits with The Giving Block received an average of $69,644 in crypto donations in 2021. The annual volume of crypto donations jumped from $4.2 million in 2020 to $69.6 million in 2021, an increase of 1,558%. 

Let’s pretend, for fun, that the growth in 2022 slows from its blistering 1,558% pace in 2021 to a measly 40%. That would result in nonprofits accepting cryptocurrency receiving, on average, $100,000 in crypto donations.

Anyone out there that wouldn’t like an extra $100,000 in donations next year, please raise your hands. 

questions about cryptocurrency donations

(scanning around)

(still waiting)

I don’t see any hands up, so let’s continue. 

Ten Things to know about cryptocurrency before jumping in

What is Cryptocurrency?

1. Cryptocurrency is a digital medium of exchange (e.g. $) that allows direct transactions without third-party processors. 

  • If you want to learn more about cryptocurrency, there are approximately 9,768,456 resources available (give or take), but here’s one that is popular. 

Why would you want to accept cryptocurrency?

2. Accepting cryptocurrency donations opens you to an entirely new donor space

  • Nearly half of “millennial millionaires” keep 25% or more of their assets in cryptocurrency

3. Accepting donations in cryptocurrency gives you access to the NFT space as well

Some concerns about cryptocurrency

4. Cryptocurrencies aren’t regulated or backed by any government

5. The value of cryptocurrencies can be meaningfully volatile

Barriers to Entry

6. Accepting cryptocurrency requires some technical know-how and setup

  • The upshot is that The Giving Block can provide your nonprofit with virtually all the needed support

7. Most likely, crypto donors are not like your current donors

Cybersecurity and other risks to cryptocurrency

8. Most cryptocurrency is not insured, or even insurable

9. Holding and exchanging cryptocurrency exposes you to new kinds of security threats,

10. Failing to appropriately protect your digital wallet and other crypto assets leaves you vulnerable to significant losses that will not be covered by insurance

What to do next

giving block crypto donations

If this article has convinced you that cryptocurrency is worth looking into as a revenue opportunity for your nonprofit, we recommend you reach out to The Giving Block. And if you want help making sure your nonprofit is technology ready and secure (including your crypto), then reach out to us

Intent & Impact: Do You Know the Difference? Does It Matter?

Intent & Impact: Do You Know the Difference? Does It Matter?

By: Susan KreegerI didn’t mean to upset or offend anyone!

These and similar retorts are frequent responses when someone is the focus of a discrimination or harassment complaint. Sometimes, the individual in question does not understand what they did wrong, and attempt to defend their actions by explaining that others misconstrued what took place.  

Although the employee may be describing their state of mind accurately, that is not the measure of whether unlawful conduct occurred. Simply accepting this explanation does not address the complaining employee’s concerns nor fulfill the company’s obligations. 

In this blog, we explore the following topics to help you understand these concepts and how they affect your workplace and HR initiatives:

That is not what I meant!

Distinguishing Intent from Impact

Intent and impact are opposing perspectives. 

Intent lies within the mind of the actor. It is solely from their point of view and may or may not be apparent to anyone but that person. Impact focuses on the feelings and reactions of those present when a person utters certain words or engages in particular conduct. How others receive a message is the impact – the effect of those actions.

Often intent and impact do not align.The individual speaking or acting may have the best intentions but that does not necessarily translate to those around them. In some instances, unconscious biases can lead good intentions to go awry. 

If the message does not come across as planned or is misinterpreted, conflict can result. The reality is that someone may feel offended, degraded, or harassed. When an employee feels this way, they may believe they are the target of unlawful discrimination or harassment. 

For example, a supervisor makes a point of explaining everything in detail to an employee for whom English is not their primary language. The supervisor just wants to help and make sure the employee is not at a disadvantage. However, the employee does not need the added explanation and views the supervisor’s actions as condescending and demeaning. They report the supervisor to HR.

How your organization responds when someone raises questionable behavior will inform employees about your level of commitment to maintaining a welcoming, positive workplace and set the stage for any legal action that may follow.

The Injured Party’s Perception Is What Matters

Many individuals accused of discrimination or harassment do not see themselves as malicious or trying to mistreat others, but their opinion of the situation does not determine when improper conduct occurred. Bad intent is not required if the end result is a hostile work environment or adverse employment action.  

The law does apply a reasonable person standard when assessing if conduct rises to the level of legally actionable, but that does not mean that the recipient needs to accept unwelcome conduct just because others do. As long as the individual’s reaction to the comment or behavior is within reason, unlawful conduct may have taken place, warranting a company response.We were all just joking around!

Addressing Discrimination and Harassment in Your Workplace

Everyone perceives the world differently based on their unique backgrounds and experiences. To avoid miscommunication, we must sensitize ourselves to how others approach the world and understand that our actions have consequences – some positive, some negative.

Setting the Ground Rules

As an employer, you need to send the message that harassment, discrimination, and retaliation are not accepted in your workplace. Implementing thoughtful, well-designed policies and procedures is an important first step. Consistent application of your policies shows that the company will do the right thing and take corrective action if employees raise concerns. 

Getting Employees Up to Speed

Communication, training, and modeling are critical to understanding and embracing anti-discrimination and harassment policies. Incorporating policies into your handbook, reviewing them when onboarding new hires, and periodically disseminating them company-wide are good practices. However,  engaging, interactive training sessions may be the best way to reinforce this information. In fact, this type of training is required in certain states.

Whether or not mandated by the state or locality in which your organization has operations, a comprehensive engaging  program is highly recommended. Effective training sessions focus not only on the legal implications of discriminatory conduct, but also the benefits of creating and maintaining a work environment that appreciates and values every employee’s contribution and unique talents. Modules that focus on unconscious bias are often incorporated when discussing these topics. No one looked upset!

Taking Action After an Incident

Even with all the right policies, programs, and training in place, situations will arise that need addressing. In addition to having a legal obligation to investigate these matters, it is the right thing for employers to do – for employee engagement, betterment of the organizational climate, and overall business success.

The procedures you have in place should provide employees, managers, and HR representatives with a clear roadmap for handling complaints. The key to reaching a fair and satisfactory resolution is a thorough and objective review process. Every employee involved must be treated with respect and have an opportunity to share their version of the events as well as any concerns they may have without fear of reprisals or retaliation. 

Some employers have the resources within their organizations to conduct investigations, but many hire outside counsel or consulting firms. When you engage a third-party, you have the benefit of an objective, outsider’s view of the incident. Oh, c’mon. They are being overly sensitive!

How RealHR Solutions Can Help You Commit to a Welcoming Work Environment

If you are looking for ways to enhance your culture, improve employee communications, and avoid the problems that may arise when employee intent does not match the impact, RealHR has solutions. Our team of HR professionals has decades of combined HR expertise and experience developing policies, training programs, and conducting workplace investigations. Our goal is to help our clients create a positive, welcoming and productive workplace, but if complaints arise, we can help to address them promptly and fairly.

We do not market off-the-shelf solutions. Instead, we assess each company’s particular needs and design HR strategies and initiatives to address those exact concerns. When meeting with our HR  professionals, we review your current situation and help you determine what makes sense for your business.

This blog should not be construed as legal advice

Employee Loyalty: The Secret Sauce and Tips Your Organization Needs

How loyal are your employees to your organization? As you consider this question, a few employees might stand out in your mind for their dedication to your nonprofit’s cause or their above-and-beyond contributions to a recent project for your business. But in reality, employee loyalty is a difficult thing to measure and quantify.

That isn’t to say there haven’t been attempts to measure employee loyalty. In 2018, management and consulting firm West Monroe found that 82 percent of employees have a high sense of loyalty to their employers. However, they also found the following:

  • 45% of employees have applied to new jobs after a bad day at work
  • 59% of employees would leave if they got a better offer from another organization
This graphic illustrates the finding that 82 percent of employees feel loyal to their employers.

What does this all mean? Employee loyalty is volatile. Similar to a tropical plant that requires exact amounts of water, careful fertilization, specific stretches of time in the sunlight, and consistent pruning, employee loyalty is something you have to carefully nurture.

One current, large-scale threat to employee loyalty is a new trend called “The Great Resignation.” This refers to the massive amount of turnover the U.S. is currently seeing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.4 million employees quit their jobs in September 2021 alone. And The Great Resignation isn’t likely to end soon. Astron Solutions national director Jennifer Loftus recently discussed this topic with other HR experts in a Cerini and Associates webinar, predicting that The Great Resignation will likely continue for the next two years.

A variety of things could be causing so many people to leave their jobs, including burnout from the pandemic and a realigning of personal priorities. But instead of deciphering the causes of The Great Resignation, your organization should focus on mitigating its effects by increasing long-term loyalty among your employees.

In this article, we’ll give you the information you need to understand what employee loyalty is and how to create it in your workplace. We’ll cover the following:

Are you ready to start taking action to improve your employees’ loyalty to your organization and its work? Let’s jump right in!

This CTA encourages readers to learn more about what Astron Solutions can do to help them grow employee loyalty at their organization.
In this section, we'll walk through some frequently asked questions about employee loyalty.

Employee Loyalty: FAQs

A number of questions can arise when discussing employee loyalty. Let’s tackle a few of these to help you cultivate loyalty among your workers.What is employee loyalty?

Employee loyalty is the idea that employees at your organization are genuinely invested in your organization and its work because they believe in it and want to see it move forward. Loyal employees view your organization as the best place for them to work.Why is employee loyalty important?

Employee loyalty is important because it affects overall employee satisfaction and retention. If an employee is loyal to your organization and is satisfied with their job and compensation, they will be much more likely to continue working at your organization in the long run.What does a loyal employee look like?

There is no comprehensive checklist for determining whether an individual employee is loyal to your organization or not. But loyal employees do have some key qualities, many of which are easy to identify. They come to work on time, complete their work, and participate in company culture. But there are also some characteristics that make a loyal employee stand out from the crowd.

A loyal employee is truly invested in your organization’s work. You may have heard these employees described as “engaged.” They see the bigger picture of your work or mission, instead of just focusing on the day-to-day. This is often reflected in their efforts to improve themselves in their current roles or take advantage of career development opportunities. A loyal employee helps brainstorm ideas that will benefit your organization as a whole and gives honest feedback about their experience because they want to make your organization a better place to work. They also accept final decisions that come from the top and run with them.

Loyal employees also have boundaries. They don’t sacrifice their health, personal endeavors, or time with loved ones for your organization. They take their vacation time, use their sick days, and are better workers because of it.

This graphic identifies some of the characteristics of a loyal employee.

How do you improve employee loyalty?

You can’t improve loyalty at your organization overnight. Much like a relationship with a donor or client, loyalty has to be cultivated over time, and that effort can take many different forms. In the sections below, we’ll give you actionable strategies for improving employee loyalty.

What employee loyalty means and looks like will vary from organization to organization. Loyalty is a complex idea to define and measure, but there are some effective ways to make positive changes in your organization so you can foster loyalty among your workers. It all starts with what we call “the secret sauce.”

In this section, you'll learn about the secret sauce your organization needs to improve employee loyalty.

Employee Loyalty: The Secret Sauce

The reality of employee loyalty is that most organizations try to get their employees to truly care about the organization and their work and end up missing the mark. Why?

Because they aren’t applying the “secret sauce.”

This secret sauce comes from an idea David Turt and Todd Nordstrom shared in a 2019 Forbes article called “The Truth About Employee Loyalty, And 5 Things Every Leader Should Know”:

You, as the leader, can only control your loyalty to them. We’ve personally seen so many managers get wrapped up in trying to ‘fix’ employee behavior. That seems like the job of a boss. But, it’s not. As a leader your job is to focus on what you can do to bring the best out of people. If it’s not working, keep focusing on what you could do differently.

-David Turt and Todd Nordstrom

This is the secret sauce: realizing that you can’t control your employees’ feelings about their jobs or your organization. The only thing within your control is your ability to create a work environment in which employees thrive in their roles, causing them to feel loyal to your organization and you as a leader.

The secret sauce of employee loyalty is realizing you can't control your employees' feelings about their jobs or your organization--you can only control how loyal you are to them!

Organization leaders who realize they can’t force loyalty look at their employees and their organization differently. They see their employees as assets who need to be treated fairly and compensated in a way that communicates appreciation. These employers do everything in their power to ensure employees enjoy their jobs and have opportunities to learn and grow professionally. Then in return, employers like these get the dedication and investment they want to see from loyal employees.

Now that you know about the secret sauce of employee loyalty, you may be wondering what changes you need to make to your approach to apply the secret sauce and create an environment where employee loyalty can grow.

In this section, we'll cover 15 tips you can use to cultivate employee loyalty at your organization.

Employee Loyalty: 15 Tips for Positive Change

What do your employees need from you right now that can help them develop loyalty toward your organization? Check out these 15 tips for creating a workplace that employees will want to stay and thrive in.

Note that some of these tips may need to be modified depending on what your workplace currently looks like during the COVID-19 pandemic. Be sure to follow state and local guidelines and to modify these tips as needed.

In this section, we'll talk about how working with an HR consultant can help you improve employee loyalty at your organization.

1. Work with an HR consultant.

Does your organization have the human resources policies and processes in place to encourage employee engagement and long-term retention? In order for your employees to buy into your organization and its work, you may need to work with an HR consulting firm that can provide an objective third-party evaluation of your current strategies and help you to improve them.

To select an HR consultant for your organization, follow these steps:

This graphic walks through the steps of choosing an HR consultant that your organization can work with to improve employee loyalty.
  1. Define your needs. Identify what you need from an HR consultant. This might include streamlining your performance management process, changing your approach to compensation, or improving how you find and hire job candidates. Your needs will help guide your search for a consultant.
  2. Discuss with key stakeholders. Before you commit to any engagement with a consultant, make sure your team is on board with the idea of hiring outside help. This will be especially important if you’re working with a strict budget.
  3. Outline your guidelines. Set your expectations for working with an HR consultant. Consider the budget you have, the expected start date, and the timeframe for the engagement.
  4. Begin your research. Search the internet for candidates or reach out to professional connections for recommendations. Remember to consider whether or not you’re willing to work with someone remotely and to filter your options accordingly.
  5. Draft an RFP. An RFP, or request for proposal, will detail your organization’s needs and expectations. When you submit an RFP to a consultant, they can use that context to draft a strategy for your organization, which will help you decide whether or not you want to work with them.
  6. Compare the candidates. Once you’ve submitted your RFP to your chosen candidates and received their proposals, review the proposals and candidates with your leadership team.
  7. Make your pick. After researching your top candidate and reviewing their references, reach out to them and start working together.

HR consultants can help you see the blind spots in your strategy for cultivating employee loyalty at your organization and help you determine what you need to change as an employer. Be open to your consultant’s ideas, but don’t be afraid to push back on or workshop the strategies they bring to the table, too.

The second tip for improving employee loyalty is to equip your employees with the best tools for their work.

2. Equip your employees with the best tools for their work.

Do your employees have the best tools available for their roles? For example, an employee might suggest that Slack or Trello could enhance workplace communication and project management. How do you respond? If you’re willing to try it out, this shows your employees that you care about their ideas to improve how they work.

Providing your employees with the best tools can require investing in technology or other resources you may be unfamiliar with. But letting your employees have more of a say in how they complete their work helps communicate your loyalty to them and receive their loyalty in return.

Plus, never underestimate the effect purchasing up-to-date tools and equipment (like new computer monitors or desk chairs) can have on morale!

In this section, we'll talk about how having open conversations about retention can help you with your efforts to improve employee loyalty.

3. Discuss retention openly.

Your efforts to retain your employees don’t have to be a secret. In fact, communicating to your employees that you want them to continue working for you can actually help your retention efforts. This will not only make them feel valued, but will also help both you and your employees speak up about what you need to change or keep doing to continue working together.

One of the best spaces for discussing retention is one-on-one meetings between managers and their direct reports. Because managers are in the best position to get to know their direct reports and be involved in their work, they are also in a great position to discuss potential retention risks. Here are some questions that can help guide managers when talking about retention:

  • What do you like about your job?
  • What do you dislike about your job?
  • Do you feel like your work is meaningful?
  • Do you feel you’re able to develop new skills and take advantage of professional development opportunities in your role?

Questions like these can help you proactively extinguish potential employee turnovers before they even have a chance to spark. You can also use retention surveys to gauge new employees’ first impressions of your organization, reasons that star employees stick around, and why employees leave, all of which can inform your strategy for cultivating employee loyalty.

In this section, we'll explain how total rewards compensation can be helpful when trying to cultivate loyalty among your employees.

4. Take a total rewards approach to compensation.

According to our guide to total rewards compensation, “a total rewards approach to compensation is the most viable method of keeping your employees satisfied, increasing retention rates, and growing your organization sustainably.”

This approach encourages employers to view compensation more holistically, offering not only direct compensation and benefits, but also things like:

  • Scheduling flexibility and PTO usage
  • Performance recognition
  • Career development opportunities such as continuing education courses, professional association memberships, and relicensing or recertification opportunities

A total rewards approach to compensation can help you create the kind of internal culture where employees thrive and want to stay. This will encourage them to strive for constant improvement in their roles, boosting retention and loyalty all around.

Transparency can go a long way in helping your employees feel more loyal to your organization.

5. Be transparent about everything.

Transparency is key to building trust and loyalty with your employees. Transparency ensures that both your and your employees’ expectations are clear and can be met. Whether you’re open about compensation or an upcoming merger, employees will appreciate it when you make an effort to keep them updated and involve them in big-picture organizational moves.

It’s also important to be transparent about the negatives. If your nonprofit loses a major source of funding or a client’s relationship with your company sours, employees will want to know. Instead of scaring them away, you’ll show them that your organization has high ethical standards and wants to collaborate with everyone to improve and move forward.

In this section, we'll discuss how an employee recognition program can have a positive impact on your efforts to grow employee loyalty.

6. Set up an employee recognition program.

According to an Apollo Technical article on employee recognition, an employee who receives recognition for their work is 63% more likely to stay at their current job for the next three to six months. What does this mean for you? Frequent and thoughtful recognition is key for ensuring your employees are happy and productive in their roles, which can increase their feelings of loyalty toward your organization.

Here are a number of ways to recognize your employees:

  • Set up an incentive plan, encouraging individuals or teams to meet certain goals to earn a reward, like a gift card or an extra day of PTO.
  • Write thank-you notes for employees that go above and beyond.
  • Give star employees shoutouts in staff meetings or newsletters.
  • Select an employee of the month and give that employee extra perks for the month, like a reserved parking spot.
  • Throw parties or host special lunches or dinners for teams who go above and beyond.

Remember, employee recognition doesn’t have to break the bank. According to our article on low-cost employee recognition, “the point of employee recognition is to make the employee feel valued by the organization.” No matter your budget, you can find a way to incorporate recognition into your strategy for cultivating employee loyalty.

In this section, we'll explain how management training can have a positive influence on employee loyalty at your organization.

7. Provide management training.

Management training can help your employees—from those in entry-level positions all the way to those in top-level management roles—learn more about how your organization works and what it means to be a good boss. These opportunities can help employees who aspire to be in a management role and provide insight for others interested in learning more about why their boss makes the decisions they do.

Offer management training sessions to your employees in which you discuss how you run your organization and how managers fit into the organization’s hierarchy. Create spaces for open discussions about good management techniques, like active listening and providing feedback, so that both managers and their direct reports can get more out of their relationships with management.

Remember, teaching your employees what it means to be a great manager won’t mean much if you don’t live by what you talk about in training. Actively apply the advice you give in training to show your employees how to put it into action themselves.

In this section, we'll give you some reasons that prioritizing employee health is good for employee loyalty.

8. Promote employee health.

Employees will feel more connected to your organization when your organization promotes healthy ways of living. Why? Because employees want to know that you see them as people, not just parts of an always-working machine. There are a variety of ways you can promote healthy living, including:

  • Offer a mental health stipend.
  • Hold daily or weekly workplace yoga, meditation, or stretching sessions.
  • Keep your breakroom stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, and caffeine-free beverages.
  • Encourage teams to take walking meetings.
  • Enter teams of interested employees in fun runs or walk-a-thons.
  • Install standing or cycling desks.
  • Invite a sleep expert to present to your employees about getting the rest they need.
  • Host challenges to see which department can walk the most steps or drink the recommended amount of water every day for a certain period of time.

Show your employees that you care about them and their well-being by incorporating more health initiatives into their day-to-day tasks. They’ll be more satisfied and happy with their jobs, as they’ll feel like your organization is a place where they can both develop professionally and maintain or improve their mental, physical, and emotional health.

In this section, we'll show you how faciliating social events can help you cultivate employee loyalty.

9. Facilitate social events.

Employees need friends at work to enjoy their jobs and want to stay with your organization. To create an environment where friendships can grow, host social events. These events can be big or small. For example, you might organize an after-work happy hour, take the office out for lunch, host a holiday party, or even set up an employee trip to an amusement park.

Ask your employees for suggestions and be sure to listen. They’ll let you know what social opportunities are the best fit for them, and they’ll love the chance to meet people from other departments and develop memories outside of their day-to-day work with each other.

In this section, we'll walk you through how career development opportunities can have an impact on employee loyalty.

10. Provide career development opportunities.

Another great way to increase your employees’ loyalty to your organization is to offer them career development opportunities. Career development opportunities are likely already part of your organization’s talent management process. But also thinking about them as something that employees want and need to feel more invested in their work can help your efforts to increase loyalty.

Here are some popular opportunities you can offer your employees:

This graphic illustrates the many career development opportunities you can offer your employees that will help you grow employee loyalty at your organization.
  • Stretch Assignments: These are out-of-the-ordinary assignments that require employees to learn and develop a new skill.
  • Cross-Functional Teamwork: This gives employees the opportunity to work with a team or department they usually don’t get to interact with in the scope of their daily duties.
  • Continuing Ed Courses: Continuing education courses, especially those that offer continuing education credits, can give your employees the chance to learn from experts in their field.
  • Recertification/Relicensing Opportunities: If your industry requires employees to recertify or relicense, your organization can provide study materials and pay for the relicensing exams to encourage employees to keep their skills sharp.
  • Conferences and Webinars: Provide your employees with opportunities to network and mingle with people in their field, allowing them to develop professional relationships and keep up with new industry knowledge.
  • Association Memberships: Associations create a community of professionals within the same field and provide opportunities like networking, conferences, workshops, and social events to help your employees grow their professional networks.
  • Management Training: In-house management training can help your employees develop a stronger understanding of how your organization works, how they can get the most out of their relationships with their managers, and how they can work toward a management position.

No matter where your employees are in their professional lives, it’s always a good idea to promote continuous learning and improvement. Providing career development opportunities like these can help you develop a great reputation with your employees as you encourage them to learn and grow within your organization.

In this section, we'll explore how championing diversity and inclusion can help you with your efforts to improve employee loyalty.

11. Focus on diversity and inclusion.

According to Glassdoor, 76% of employees and job seekers report that diversity is an important factor when they evaluate companies and jobs. Work with your organization’s top leaders to evaluate your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. You might need to take action to adopt fairer hiring practices or to revise your compensation approach.

Remember, it’s not enough to just talk about DEI. Your employees want to see you making real, positive changes in the workplace.

In this section, we'll look at how empowering employees to give back to their communities can boost employee loyalty.

12. Empower employees to give back.

Employees love to see opportunities from their employers to give back to the community. Opportunities to donate or volunteer enrich employees’ lives, and they also boost your reputation in your local area. Here are some opportunities you might consider offering:

This is a clipboard image that notes three ways you can empower your employees to give back to the community: donation matching, volunteer grants, and corporate volunteer days.
  • Donation Matching: One of the most popular ways for employees to give back is to donate to causes they care about. Try offering gift matching to help employees increase their donations’ impact. To learn more about the good that gift matching can do, check out 360MatchPro’s article on corporate giving and philanthropy.
  • Volunteer Grants: Volunteer grants are donations organizations make to nonprofits where their employees regularly volunteer. These grants encourage employees to volunteer more and can be a great boon to nonprofits.
  • Corporate Volunteer Days: When you organize a corporate volunteer day, you’re arranging for all of your employees to participate in a nonprofit’s cause for the day. Whether you’re building a new playground or tutoring school kids, your employees will find fulfillment in lending a helping hand on these designated days.

If giving back is something that your organization values, providing opportunities for employees to do the same communicates to them that your organization is consistent and has a genuine desire to do good. As you look for ways to help your employees make a difference in your community, you’ll likely notice an increase in dedication to your organization.

In this section, we make the case for showing appreciation for the little things in the name of employee loyalty.

13. Show appreciation for the little things.

When it comes to recognizing your employees or communicating how appreciated they are, remember to thank them for the little things. An employee might clean the coffee pot, water the office plants, or take notes in a meeting without being asked. Be sure to tell them “thank you.” Those two words can go a long way in making your employee feel like they belong at your organization.

Another great way to bolster employee loyalty is to change up the routine for your workers.

14. Change up the routine.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your employees is to shake things up. A change in routine can be a lot of fun, relieve stress, and reset your team to be more productive. Try out one of these ideas:

  • Hosting a work retreat
  • Surprising your employees with catered breakfast or lunch
  • Bringing in therapy dogs for employees to interact with for an afternoon
  • Hosting meetings in different locations, like outside of your office building
  • Switching out office chairs for exercise balls for a day

Monotony can turn into a retention risk. By demonstrating that your organization works hard to make each day fresh and new, you can make a positive impression on your employees.

When you put forth a real effort to listen to your employees' feedback, you'll notice employee loyalty getting stronger.

15. Listen to your employees’ feedback.

To feel invested in their work and loyal to your organization, employees need to know that when they give their managers feedback, suggestions, or ideas, they are being heard. Surveys are a great tool for getting feedback from your employees. When employees can remain anonymous, there’s less pressure to keep their ideas to themselves and more encouragement to share what’s on their minds.

To learn more about surveys and to choose survey questions that will help you get actionable feedback, we suggest working with an HR consultant. A consultant can help you design a survey, administer it, understand the survey responses, and implement positive changes to make your organization a better place to work.

In this section, we'll wrap up this post on employee loyalty and point you toward useful additional resources for learning more.

Wrapping Up

Employee loyalty is complex, and your employees’ feelings about your organization can change on a regular basis. However, when you apply the “secret sauce” and work to demonstrate your loyalty to your employees by applying the tips we’ve discussed in this article, you’ll start to see more dedication to and investment in your organization’s work.

To get expert help with your efforts to cultivate employee loyalty, reach out to an HR consulting firm like Astron Solutions. Astron Solutions can provide you with the services and solutions you need to improve your employer brand and keep your organization moving forward.

Interested in learning more? Check out these additional resources:

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Building Data Ethics into Data Management – The Bright Side of Scary

Building Data Ethics into Data Management

This article was written co-operatively by RoundTable Technology’s Kim Snyder and LA Tech4Good’s Rachel Whaley.

Yes, there are a few looming, scary reasons why nonprofit professionals are rethinking their relationship with their own data. The first is compliance. In recent years, individual states — California, New York, Colorado — have enacted privacy regulations. The majority of states have recently considered enacting some level of privacy legislation, and many are actively in the process of drafting legislation. In our increasingly boundary-less world, many organizations collect data from EU residents. That means that GDPR applies.  Even if privacy regulations aren’t on the radar, they are sure to be knocking on just about every organization’s door soon.

The second scary reason is cybercrime. We hear about it in the news, and we also feel it in our gut: data breaches are a very real threat for organizations of any size. Breaches and ransom attacks are not just a big business problem. Nonprofits collect and process high value data, particularly donor data, and cybercriminals have their eyes on this, especially in today’s very polarized world. Added to this are recent  global tensions with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,  which places  US-based organizations  on high alert.

Both of these realities are motivating nonprofit leaders to prioritize data management and security like never before. Think of these as the extrinsic motivators for organizations to take control over data. We need to take actions to prevent bad things from happening to us. That doesn’t make these reasons any less real — and building a practice of data management is a very real requirement for addressing them. 

But there is another brighter side to this. 

The same data management practices that nonprofit professionals are learning and building to address privacy and security share significant elements with data ethics principles and practices. Developing data governance and management practices offers organizations an opportunity to actively build a data ethics culture. Promoting an ethical approach to data means that in addition to complying with relevant regulations, you are also ensuring that your organizational core values are reflected and upheld in your data practices.

Think of data ethics as an intrinsic motivator. We need to take these actions because they will make us better as an organization.  We will be more  conscious of what we collect, more thoughtful about how we manage this data, and become more trustworthy in the process.

Ethical Building Blocks

Ethics principles touch upon virtually every aspect of establishing organizational best practices in data management and security. Here are a few examples of how aligned these principles and practices are:

Start with Individual Rights

The newly emerging state-based privacy laws incorporate the principles of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a foundation. GDPR is created around the belief that personal information belongs to the individual, and that individuals have an inherent right to privacy. Respect for an individual’s right to privacy as a starting point is very solid ground upon which to build ethical data practices. 

Know Your Sources

Capturing the how and why of data collection is a first step in building a data inventory. Once we can verify we have a legitimate reason for collecting a person’s information, we need to document the collection points to ensure that we can protect that information at every point in its journey into and through our organization. Data ethics asks that we know and examine our sources, but for slightly different (but related) reasons. In the foundational work “Datasheets for Datasets”, researchers led by Dr. Timnit Gebru provide a model for documenting data sources and processes to promote greater transparency and accountability throughout the data lifecycle. Documentation like this is a key tactic for promoting ethical data practices, because it enables transparency of crucial information such as, How was this data collected? When and why was it collected, and by who? How is the data processed and analyzed? And based on all of those answers, what should the data be used for? What should this data not be used for? Answering these questions about your datasets up front will help get everyone on the same page about how to use the data and will help prevent misunderstanding of what the data means.

Align with Your Organizational Values

As you think about what it means to practice data ethics in your daily work at your organization, one good starting point is to assess how closely your data practices align with your organizational values. Building data documentation is a great step in beginning to align your data practices (which could include technical choices, process steps, and team setup) with those values, because the act of creating documentation requires you to look closely at each piece of data with a critical lens. These reflections can help you think through how your values, whether those include respect, inclusion, accountability, or any other core belief, manifest themselves in your data work, and how to make them more tangible in your data management processes.

Protect what we Collect

Security is another crucial aspect of ethical data management. When we collect personal information — whether it’s our constituents or employees — we need to be trustworthy guardians of that information.  Considering that “accidental” is one of the root causes for data leaks and breaches, we need to establish the systems that minimize the risk of those accidents from happening in the first place.  This is why healthy cybersecurity is inseparable from data management practices in today’s world. This is especially true for organizations and programs that handle sensitive data, where accidental exposure can lead to very real risks for individuals.

Learn More

We believe that the process of building ethical data management practices is one of continuous learning. New regulations will emerge, cyberthreats will advance and ethics requirements will evolve as our programs and organizations change.  It is never too soon for organizations at any point in their data maturity evolution to begin building in data ethics practices. 

Building your Data Maturity Model is another good next step to take in this journey, luckily we have another article detailing this process.

To learn more about building ethical data management practices, join us for our upcoming webinar, Data Ethics and Privacy for Nonprofits – register here!

Register for Data Ethics and Privacy for Nonprofits

Protecting Your Nonprofit from Cyber Threats

By Michael Fleischer

Senior Vice President, SterlingRisk

The cyber-attacks that make headlines are often aimed at large corporations and financial institutions with household names. The sad truth, however, is that no one is safe from cyber activity, including today’s nonprofit. In fact, a growing number of charitable organizations that engage in online fundraising and giving campaigns have discovered the hard way that cyber criminals don’t discriminate when targeting victims.

While ransomware and phishing pose a growing threat to all organizations, the following tips can help protect your agency or association from cyber-attacks, cybercrime, and online fraud.

Plan for Worst Case Scenarios

If someone orchestrates a cyber-attack against your nonprofit, it is important to be able to respond quickly. All organizations should have cyber protocols and testing in place. You should be systematically testing your business for cyber weaknesses and entry points, and if a hack or mistake shuts down a vital system, have a plan B. Find a workaround that allows you to keep as much of your business running as possible.

Assess Your Vulnerabilities

You might not always know the risks you and your employees are taking. Bringing in an independent contractor to audit your technology systems and processes is one way to get ahead of those risks. A contractor can uncover hidden dangers such as unpatched software, insecure processes, or compromised systems.

Be Mindful of Emails

Research has found that more than 90 percent of detected malware arrived via email. This is due to the number of ways email can be manipulated.

An employee might receive a seemingly innocent email attachment, only to discover it carries malicious software, known as malware. This malware could take down a single computer or your entire network. Emails can also contain links leading users to websites that automatically download malicious code onto their computers. This type of code cannot always be prevented using traditional antivirus software alone. If an employee’s email account gets broken into, a hacker can pose as a trusted sender and dupe you into sharing valuable information.

Train Your Employees to Detect Threats

Another reason email is such an effective way into an organization is that employees don’t always know what to look for and are not fully aware of the risks they are taking when they check their messages.

Phishing emails, which are messages sent by someone posing as a reputable sender, often have small details changed or contain odd phrasing. With good training, employees will know to ask questions, double-check procedures, and verify requests via other sources. One effective technique is to send test emails that can track whether employees click links or follow a direction contained in a message. If they do, then the system can display educational materials or you can follow up to make sure they understand their mistake.

Require Strong Procedures for Payments

When COVID-19 first emerged, many of the usual processes and procedures had to be reimagined. This created new opportunities for invoice fraud.

For example, after COVID-19 started, businesses and nonprofits saw an increased number of invoices sent via spoofed, disguised, or hacked email addresses. Cyber attackers who spent time observing workers were able to imitate language and processes perfectly. Due to this, it is recommended that employees be skeptical of all invoices and to have client, vendor, and bank phone numbers readily available in order to easily verify any payment or bank charge.

Use Strong Passwords

Passwords should be complex, but they don’t need to be hard to remember. Rather than pasting your passwords into a spreadsheet or writing them down, consider using a password manager with strong encryption. Password managers can assist with password protection, giving the ability to store encrypted passwords for multiple sites in a secure vault. These high-tech tools can keep hundreds of passwords safe and are easy to use.

While no system is foolproof, following the above cyber tips will go a long way towards safeguarding your nonprofit. If you experience any unusual requests or think you might be a victim of fraud, contact me at mfleischer@sterlingrisk.com or call me directly at 516-719-8759.

Michael Fleischer is Senior Vice President at SterlingRisk, one of the nation’s largest privately held insurance brokers. He brings over 35 years of insurance and risk management experience to his clients at SterlingRisk. Michael’s understanding of cyber insurance, claims, risk management, complex coverage issues, and carrier relationships enables him to develop and implement complete and comprehensive solutions to his clients’ exposures. To learn more about SterlingRisk, visit www.sterlingrisk.com.

Cybersecurity Concerns Related to Ukraine / Russian Conflict

As the Ukraine / Russian conflict continues, many people and organizations have expressed concerns about the potential for cyber-warfare and potential impact on their organizations and/or people.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, then your organization and/or personnel may indeed be facing greater than usual threats as a result of this conflict:

  1. You have operations in Russian or the Ukraine
  2. You have personnel working in Russia or the Ukraine
  3. You support journalism, research, or activism (especially human rights) in Russia or the Ukraine
  4. You are responsible for US critical infrastructure such as power, gas, water, or hospitals

Most people and organizations will answer no to all those questions. For those of you, the situation has not meaningfully changed. Your most significant threat is from cyber criminals and criminal organizations that wish to take your money. They will attempt to do this by tricking you (e.g. business email compromise and gift card scams) or through ransomware attacks or various other means.

Your best defense is a solid foundation of cybersecurity. At the absolute minimum you should:

  • Using multi-factor authentication on ALL your business critical applications
  • Ensure all your devices and software are patched – running up-to-date versions
  • Ensure you have verifiable, secure backups of all of your critical data
  • Train your staff regularly on cybersecurity awareness

You may also wish to inform your staff to be extra cautious of phishing attempts (via email, text or social media) on current news events, in this case, any communication purporting to be about Ukraine or Russia.

We do not advise trying to perform a year’s worth of security projects in a week. To paraphrase an ancient proverb,

“The best time to have started a comprehensive security program was several years ago. The next best time is today.”

3 Reasons to Consider Follow-Me Print

Follow-Me Print allows users to send a print job to a central queue and then walk up to any printer and release their job. Here are some reasons to consider implementing this:

  1. You don’t have to figure out what printers are close to a user. People are usually set up to print to machines that are close to their desks. If you are moving towards a hybrid office and people won’t have dedicated desks anymore, not only is it not practical to set them up to print to every device but they will also likely have difficulty figuring out which printer is close to them.
  2. Protect private information. If employees are printing pages with “private” or “personal” information, to comply with New York State’s SHIELD Act, those print jobs can’t be left out for anyone to claim accidentally and must be disposed of properly.
  3. Waste less paper. The days where you are throwing out reams of paper of unclaimed print jobs will be gone—the trees will thank you.

We can help you implement follow-me print using Papercut software or HP’s Access Control. Call 718-785-8243 ext. 3 or click on the button below to schedule a conversation to see how we can help

Schedule a Conversationwith one of our Printer/Copier
Solutions Experts

Cerini Connection – Workplace Trends

Since the start of the pandemic, many companies have adopted a hybrid model, meaning that it is time to revaluate your space and how it is used. Join us as we talk to Paul G. Wolf, Co-Founder & President, Denham Wolf Real Estate Services. In the conversation we will cover:
• What does your office need to look like to ensure all people feel comfortable and health concerns are addressed
• How has your space changed and how to use it most effectively
• At what point should you revaluate your lease and best practices to do so

Compensation Programs and the Great Resignation

Compensation Programs and the Great Resignation

As a direct result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 finds us facing high inflation rates. We’ve seen prices rise 7% – in everything from cars and housing, to gas, food, and furniture. It is the largest 12 – month increase in inflation that we’ve seen in 40 years. According to CNBC, “Employers had it easy over the past decade. Inflation has lingered between 1% and 2%, while pay raises have increased between 2% and 3% during the same time.” This means employers have to adjust their compensation strategy in response. Additionally, while attempting to counteract the current inflation rates, we are still facing “The Great Resignation.” 4.3 million people quit their jobs in December 2021 alone.

How much will rising inflation and the Great Resignation influence compensation this year? How can employers balance employee expectations with employer interests and fiscal sustainability? Lastly, what strategies can employers use to create meaningful compensation packages? These questions are answered in this week’s Astronology®.

Inflation and The Great Resignation – Balancing Employee Expectations and Employer Interests

Like inflation, employee expectations are at an all-time high. The COVID-19 pandemic created a shift in priorities for most people. Employees want lots of things, including higher pay, more job flexibility, and better child care. Employers are responding to these priorities by reviewing and adjusting benefit options – specifically, including or adjusting remote work features.

In order to remain competitive in a hot market and to account for inflation, Willis Towers Watson anticipates employers paying an average 3.4% raise to their employees this year. Despite this expected increase in wages, inflation is still taking a toll on an employees’ “take – home pay.”

Recognizing this, employers need to focus on a total rewards strategy when deciding to use variable compensation to reward employees. Doing so will help an organization balance employees’ needs and expectations with the organization’s interests, budget, and plans for growth. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) explains in a December 2021 article, “Variable-pay incentive bonuses, which are one-time cash payouts that do not affect base pay, are projected to significantly increase compared to last year, with 1 in 4 employers saying they will have an overall bonus pool more than 10 percent higher than last year…While the current labor market is driving some increases in pay, employers are concerned about economic uncertainty and therefore are looking to other vehicles such as incentive pay to reward and retain workers in this tight labor market.”

Sounds good. But is that all? What other strategies can employers take?

Four Strategies to Consider

Along with some form of variable compensation, here are four strategies that employers can consider to create an overall compensation strategy with a focus on total rewards:

  1. Prioritize Hourly Pay: In recent years, we’ve seen movements to adjust the national minimum hourly wage to at least $15 per hour. We’ve also seen many states respond to this movement by adjusting their minimum wages to gradually meet this limit. Certain companies such as Costco and Target have already set their own minimum wage to meet or go beyond $15 per hour. This indicates that prioritizing and uplifting hourly pay is a popular strategy. “With unprecedented levels of churn in the labor market, wage growth at record pace, and increasing external scrutiny, now is the time to focus on hourly pay strategies,” states Lauren Mason, senior principal at Mercer’s business division.
  2. Take a Segmented Approach: In order to address gaps in competitiveness, consider a segmented approach. Offer higher wages to both new staff and high – performing current employees in critical business segments. Another group to consider are those whose pay levels are below market rates. Now would be a great time to consider bringing their pay rates to the proper market rate (or even slightly above). In fact, an overall review of your organization’s compensation structure can elp you identify such weak areas. Astron Solutions has 23 years of experience helping organizations identify and address such issues. Why not request more information today?
  3. Consider the Overall Employee Experience: Employees are burnt out and exhausted from the pandemic. As an employer or leader in employee experience now is the time to examine reasonable and impactful ways to support staff’s unmet needs. Adding resources that could help employees navigate pandemic – related burnout can be considered indirect compensation, contributing to an employee’s total rewards.
  4. Be Transparent in Communicating Your Pay Strategy with Employees: In addition to providing supplemental benefits to round out an employee’s total rewards, equally important is communicating the total value of their employment. Aon noted in one of their blog posts, “Communicating total rewards is important; employees can be tempted to leave their employer for very little increase in actual salary and sometimes what you find is that they don’t appreciate the wider picture of how much their benefits are truly worth.” Employees that have access to a total reward statement have a transparent view of their overall package and thus will be motivated to stay. Move beyond traditional “boring” benefit communications and find ways to share the full reward.