Six Ways to Recognize Employees and Drive Engagement

National Employee Appreciation Day may have passed, but it doesn’t mean employee recognition should end. In fact, according to Forbes, recognition is the number one thing employees want in order to stay inspired and produce great work.

The best part is – recognition is essentially free! It can come in the form of a formalized employee program, or can be as simple as sending a thoughtful email (or better yet, a handwritten note) to your team members recognizing them for their amazing work.

Here are six ways to keep the momentum of National Employee Appreciation Day going month after month.

1. Express gratitude publicly

As we mentioned above, handwritten notes are a great way to express gratitude. But in some cases, showing gratitude in a public manner can go a long way. For example, give deserving employees a shoutout for finishing a large project on time and under budget in your company’s monthly newsletter. Or during a team meeting, give credit to an employee that deserves recognition.

2. Pass the mic

Praising and encouraging your team members can also come in the form of autonomy. When people are given responsibility, they are further motivated to own and complete the project. For instance, have team members present during management meetings and share how they solved a recent problem for your customers, or ask an employee to brief the rest of the team on what they learned after attending a training or industry event.

3. Reward with additional PTO hours or flex time
Handing out extra time-off that can be bundled and used for a half-day or full-day is a reward that we can promise will be in high demand, especially for employees who you know put in the extra hours for a major project. Give them those hours back to show you noticed, and that you care about their well-being and the necessity of reconnecting to themselves, their family and their friends outside of their job.

4. Keep open lines of communication

Open communication plays a huge role in your teams’ comfort level and shows employees that leadership values their opinion. Asking employees for their feedback can come in many forms. Try weekly 1:1s with managers, employee surveys, or polls using online tools that can help with anonymity.

5. Connect employees to your company’s purpose

Strong company culture directly impacts employee engagement. In fact, according to Gallup, “a strong culture makes employees want to perform better and makes customers want to spread the word about you.” Help employees see the link between their day-to-day jobs and the company’s overall mission to give them a greater sense of meaning, and ultimately, better productivity across the team.

6. Gifts are always welcome

The simplest way to show your employees you value their hard work is to reward them with unexpected treats. For example, bring in cookies at the end of the month or host a happy hour at the office after a successful quarter. Recognizing your team’s dedication with rewards, as simple as they may be, shows you appreciate their time and effort all year long – not just once a year.

Recognition is a crucial part of creating an engaged culture. So important, in fact, that according to a study by Gallup, “Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they'll quit in the next year.” Which is why acknowledgment for a job well-done is powerful and important in the workplace.

We actually wrote a playbook all about the topic of employee engagement. Download your free copy today and get six additional tips for how to build your own employee engagement program.

How to Get Started Building Your Employer Brand to Attract New Talent

No matter the size, every company has a unique story to tell, and it can be used to create a compelling employer branding message that will not only help retain current employees, but attract top talent. In today’s candidate-driven market, competition for talent is high, and the period between a candidate’s first interaction with a brand online to receiving a job offer is critical. Your employer brand, or the perception of your company as an employer, can make or break a potential candidate’s experience.

Below, we’ll walk through how to create or improve an employer brand, and how it plays a role in attracting, recruiting, and hiring the best employees.

Why employer brand is important

Employer brand addresses both your current and prospective employees. It includes your company’s core values, its culture, and the employee and candidate experience – everything from benefits and perks to career development opportunities.

Not paying attention to your employer brand can be detrimental, especially when it comes to hiring and attracting talent. In fact, 84 percent of job seekers say the reputation of a company is important when making a decision on where to apply for a job, and 9 out of 10 candidates would apply for a job when it’s from an employer brand that’s actively maintained. A poor employer brand, on the other hand, not only affects a candidate’s desire to work for a company, it affects the bottom line as well. In fact, a negative reputation will cost a company at least 10 percent more per hire.

If you want to attract the right talent to your business, you have to develop your employer brand as well as the perception that your company is a great place to work. You do this not only through intangible qualities, like your company culture, but tangible ones as well, including messaging, the careers page of your website, your social media channels, and more.

Step #1: Assess the situation

The first step in any project, including creating an employer brand, requires first assessing your current situation. Start by turning to the first place a prospective candidate is likely to visit – your careers page. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and ask yourself whether current job openings are visible and prominent enough to easily locate. Does the content accurately represent life at your company? Would a candidate be able to get a look and feel for your company culture just by visiting your careers page? What about SEO? Are you using enough relevant keywords that would draw search engine results to your page?

Step #2: Define your vision and values

Next, outline your organization’s vision and values. What do you offer to current and prospective employees that your competitors don’t? The answer to this question will help form the basis of your Employer Value Proposition (EVP), a strategic statement that defines how you want to be perceived by your employees. It should not only convey your organizational values and ideals, but what it’s like to work at your company and what is expected of employees.

Step #3: Improve your job descriptions

Then consider which job boards you’re currently posting to, such as Glassdoor and Indeed. Are your job descriptions compelling enough? Clear enough? Creating a clearly stated job title that is relevant to the job and easily found on job boards and search engines is the first step in hiring the right candidate.

Step #4: Turn to social media

Lastly, another thing to consider as you assess your employer brand is your social media channels. Do you have a presence on the channels most frequently used by your target candidate? If you’re a graphic design firm, it’s highly probable that prospective employees frequently use Instagram, so consider showcasing some of the company’s work (and other employees) on an Instagram account.

These are just the first few steps to getting your employer brand up and running. To learn more, join us for our webinar, “How to Attract Talent With Your Employer Brand,” where we’ll discuss how to put your brand assessment to work.

4 Performance Management Best Practices for Employee Satisfaction

According to a survey conducted by Energage, two-way communication is the largest differentiator in the leading companies noted as Top Places to Work. More so, numerous studies have shown a clear correlation between open, honest communication with employers and employee job satisfaction. This is a primary driver for why improving communication between employees and management has never been a more relevant strategy for retaining top talent. In fact, it is essential to job satisfaction.

What exactly is performance management?

Performance management is an ongoing process designed to enhance employee success and development. Employees need ongoing feedback – whether that means an employee that needs to be engaged or an underperformer that needs a clear improvement plan. At the end of the day, it helps employees be the best they can be while also increasing employee satisfaction.

How can business owners in Hawaii implement these strategies into their current system? We’re sharing forward-thinking approaches with clearly defined goals and expectations that can set the stage for success from the first day of work until the last.

Let’s look at four performance management best practices that you can leverage for employee satisfaction.

Best practice #1: Set clearly defined goals and expectations

It can be challenging to figure out exactly how to to set goals that work for your business. Using the SMART framework can help clearly define expectations, and give you a path to producing real results. What’s the SMART model?

SPECIFIC: Choose the particular goal you want to hit, like zero customer complaints this quarter or answer all calls before the third ring. Identify who’s working towards the goal, the resources they’ll have, and their plan of action.

MEASURABLE: Select which metrics to track in order to measure progress towards your goal. For example, if your goal is increasing revenue, a measurable is achieving X percentage growth in new sales.

ACHIEVABLE/ATTAINABLE: Goals that are based on your baseline performance, rather than industry benchmarks are more realistic to achieve. For example, if last quarter your customer support team had a monthly average ticket count of 450, try setting a goal to decrease that by 5%. Just remember, the goals that are set must be attainable given employees’ skill set and resources.

RELEVANT: It’s crucial to align goals with the organization’s business plan, while accounting for current trends in your industry. For instance, will hiring new employees lead to increased productivity? And is it actually possible for you to hire skilled employees from the talent pool available? If you’re aware of all the existing factors, you’ll be more likely to set goals that are realistic, achievable, and more beneficial to your company.

TIME-BOUND: Goals that are attached to deadlines are more likely to be taken seriously and adhered to by your team. And the same goes for you – if you don’t give yourself a deadline, accomplishing your goal will take too long to achieve long-term success.

Performance management works best when it is applied from top-down, so business owners need to be heavily involved in setting the tone when it comes to expectations and being involved in establishing goals.

Best practice #2: Keep an open dialogue

Excellent communication skills are essential for good performance management. For an employee to succeed, effective feedback and guidance must be provided by business owners and managers in an open, honest way. Additionally, employees sometimes feel threatened when discussing their performance, so it’s especially important to pay attention to how the message is being delivered – as well as received. Keeping an ongoing and consistent dialogue related to performance will also help employees better understand how to improve, meet, or exceed expectations.

Best practice #3: Establish milestone dates

It’s been said time and time again that only checking in with employees once a year during annual performance reviews is ineffective. Performance management shouldn’t just happen once a year, rather it should occur on a continuous basis. For business managers, a good exercise is to build out an annual schedule with dates attached to when goals are set, how often you’re touching base with employees, when self-assessments and/or peer evaluations should take place, as well as official review meetings. For instance, here is a sample calendar:

January: Use SMART model to set goals.

March, June, September: Have quarterly check-ins with employees you manage.

October, November: Encourage employees to prepare for their review meeting,

individually or as a team. This is a good time for you to start getting your documents in order for each team member.

December: Host annual reviews.

Being transparent about the coming year helps employees and managers know how to plan for and manage expectations.

Best practice #4: Acknowledge positive behavior

Recognizing excellence can make a world of difference in the workplace. From encouraging positive behavior in employees that are meeting standards to creating healthy competition amongst the team, rewards are a proven way to impact both employee engagement and company culture.

We’ve seen firsthand the impact of employee reward programs and one of the biggest misconceptions we come across is cost. But you don’t have to break the bank to reward your employees’ hard work. Here are a 3 ways to recognize employee performance for under $30: free lunch, books or a subscription to Audible, or a charitable donation.

Performance management does not only happen once a year; effective business leaders manage performance every day. Use the best practices outlined above to create the best system for your own business.

To learn more on this topic, sign up for our webinar, “Supervisor Series: Performance Management Best Practices” here.

Don’t Let Rising Labor Costs Hurt Your Business

You can find significant savings on your labor costs—everything from healthcare and benefits to workers’ compensation and employee perks. The answer is HR outsourcing.

Did you know that you can find significant savings on your labor costs—everything from healthcare and benefits to workers’ compensation and employee perks? The answer is HR outsourcing.

While many businesses stand to benefit from working with an HR partner, a lot of employers worry that it will involve extra costs. That’s an especially big issue when 49% of Hawaii business owners said keeping costs in line was their top concern.

In reality, outsourcing to a local HR partner can be a great strategy to get rising labor costs under control. Let’s take a look at three reasons why.


1. There's a lot of costly HR “extras”

First, the true cost of HR is actually more than just your employees’ wages. It also includes things like healthcare and benefits, insurances like workers’ compensation and Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), employer taxes, and administrative costs like payroll too. These expenses can make up about 70% of your labor costs (including wages).

2. Buying in bulk has its perks.

Second, when it comes to determining pricing for all these extra HR costs, many local businesses are at a huge disadvantage simply because of their employee size. The reason is something we call buying power, and Hawaii businesses don’t have a lot of it.

Buying power: It’s the idea that you can get a better deal when you purchase things in large quantities. It’s the reason toilet paper is cheaper when you buy it from Costco. Or, you may have seen buying power in action if you’ve ever given a discount to a client who was sending you a large amount of work.

The same goes for all your “HR extras” too. When it comes to your business, the cost of things like healthcare or workers’ compensation insurance is going to be very different if you’re purchasing it for a company of 10 employees, versus a company with 100 employees.

3. There's power in partnership

When you work with an HR partner, they extend their buying power to YOU—which means you save on all your “HR extras” while getting more value for your dollar. After all, an HR partner can have the buying power of hundreds of businesses and thousands of employees (at ProService, we represent 35,000+ employees).

This is really good news for Hawaii businesses. Whether your business has 1, 10, 50 or 200+ employees, you can offer benefits on par with Fortune 500 companies at a reduced price—as long as you have the power of an HR partner behind you.

For example, you can find savings on things like:

  • Top medical, dental, and vision coverage
  • Flexible Spending Account plans
  • 401(k) and student loan repayment assistance plans
  • Life insurance and personal accident insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Gym memberships, commuter benefits, and other perks


And while you may not think of things like workers’ compensation and TDI rates as negotiable, they are. Leveraging the buying power of a big group can get you better rates on these mandatory insurances and save you money—especially if your HR partner handles claims management in-house.


Benefits that help you (and your employees) win

Not only does offering excellent benefits help you take better care of your hardworking employees, it also positions your business to attract and win top talent too (remember, Hawaii’s workers are looking for better benefits to deal with our high cost of living). In our low-unemployment market, having great benefits can be a huge differentiator for
your business as well.

Still not convinced? Download our free ebook to learn more about the major advantages of outsourcing & HR partnerships in Hawaii. 

4 Laws of Habit Change: Advice From Our February Growth Series

Our first Growth Series event of 2019, “Atomic Habits: Compound Tiny Changes Into Remarkable Results,” took place on February 27 and featured James Clear, New York Times bestselling author, as our keynote speaker. We were honored to have him share his insight with our attendees.

Clear is an American author and entrepreneur as well as one of the world's leading experts on habit formation. He is the creator of The Habits Academy, the premier training platform for individuals and organizations that are interested in building better habits in life and work, and his most recent book, Atomic Habits, offers a proven framework for getting 1% better every day.

During his keynote, Clear shared personal stories and interesting anecdotes with Hawaii’s business community to show how we can create better habits, make better decisions, and live better lives.

If you couldn’t attend our Growth Series event last month, you’re in luck — we’re recapping Clear’s four laws that can help us understand what a habit is, how it works, and how to improve it.

The power of tiny changes

Good or bad, habits can work for you or against you. Over the course of a typical day, a bad habit may seem miniscule –like filing away an unread email that you promise yourself you’ll come back to at the end of the day, and then forgetting about. Another 365 days of of not responding to emails will quickly go from no big deal to a very big deal, and could potentially end with a very irritated – and ignored – customer. On the flipside, good habits can also lead to positive changes if they are consistently occurring.

So why are bad habits so hard to quit? Bad habits repeat themselves not because you don’t want to change but because you have the wrong system for change.

According to Clear, the system of building a habit – good or bad – can be divided into four simple steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.

Law #1: Make it obvious

A cue triggers our brains to initiate a specific behavior. Basically, it’s information that predicts a reward. For example, if we see an advertisement promising more efficient advertising software, our brain is triggered by this cue to look into the product. Understanding cues helps us see our habits clearly, as well as identify obvious cues for triggers we want to change.

Seeing patterns in our lifestyles can also lead to easily making small shifts or adding habits where they are the most obvious. For example, if you make coffee the second you wake up every morning and a new habit you want to implement is to start meditating more, you can associate making coffee with meditating. Flip your coffee machine on, and meditate for five minutes before pouring yourself a mug of coffee.

One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking. Habit stacking is a special form of an implementation intention. Rather than pairing your new habit with a particular time and location, you pair it with a current habit or an entrypoint.

Law #2: Make it attractive

Cravings are the key to the second law of the habit loop, and they are the motivational force behind every habit. As Clear notes, without some level of motivation or desire – without wanting a change – we have no real reason to act.

One of the keys to making habits attractive is to design your environment based on the changes you want to make. For example, if you want to make a habit of networking with your peers more, place event reminders on your calendar, so you receive the notification before leaving work each day. The key is to make your environment a positive force for change.

Law #3: Make it easy
There’s a reason New Year’s Resolutions are given up by the second week of the year – making drastic lifestyle changes are hard to keep up with. Instead, opt for easy, marginal changes that you can continue day after day until it becomes a habit.

There are a few key moments in your day that can determine the trajectory of the rest of your day. And most of the changes that we want to make can be put into motion in just two minutes. Clear presented his “Two Minute Rule,” with the idea that “when you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.”

Clear states, “nearly any habit can be scaled down into a two-minute version.” For example, a goal to “engage more frequently with my customers” can be distilled down to “send one customer a thank you note” or “pick up the phone and call Rick from ProService to say hello.”

The idea is to make your habits as easy as possible to start. Once this is set in motion, chances are you’ll find yourself on the path to positive change.

Law #4: Make it satisfying

If the ending is satisfying, we have a reason to repeat the behavior – so the “reward” is a very crucial part to creating good habits. Although for many long-term positive habits, change can take time to see. For example, if your goal is to cut business costs, after a week you might not see an increase in profitability, but you will by the end of the year.

Clear encourages us to create a visual trigger that can help motivate you to perform a habit with more consistency. For example, using a habit tracker can help keep us motivated by visually tracking progress. A habit tracker can come in the form of an app, a simple notebook, or moving paperclips from one pile to another.

Seeing progress is satisfying, and visual measures provide clear evidence of your progress. As a result, it can help reinforce your behavior and add little bit of immediate satisfaction to any activity.

Final thoughts

We were so thrilled to welcome James Clear to the islands for our Growth Series event “Atomic Habits: Compound Tiny Changes Into Remarkable Results.” With his insightful tips, we are sure that you have the right tools to make tiny changes that add up to dramatic changes for you and your business. And if you missed the event, check out the video of the full event here.

As always, ProService is invested in your business's growth and success, so stay tuned for our next Growth Series event coming this spring!

Best Practices for Conducting Effective Interviews

Employers in Hawaii are becoming increasingly frustrated with the state’s very low unemployment rate, and as a result, the challenge of finding skilled talent to fill open roles. To compete, employers should look at how they are recruiting and attracting qualified employees.

Specifically, more and more studies have shown that traditional interview techniques are becoming less effective. According to Glassdoor, each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes. Of those candidates, four to six will get called for an interview, and the one that gets offered the job could choose not to accept it. So how can employers conduct more effective interviews to lead to more job offers being accepted?

Here are seven best practices leveraged by our own HR professionals to hire the best talent.

Create the perfect job description

The job description is often the candidate’s first glimpse into your company’s culture, and if done right, will encourage the right candidate to apply while also minimizing applications from unqualified candidates. To learn how to craft job descriptions that attract the right candidate, check out this blog post.

Advertise the open position

From hiring a recruiter to help promote the position, to using local job boards, or even encouraging team members to post available positions on their personal social networks, getting in front of a wide range of candidates is an important step in finding the perfect fit.

Screen candidates

Don’t waste your time – or the time of potential hires – by not doing your homework. Use work history forms, telephone interviews, and technical screenings when applicable to narrow down who to bring in for an interview. An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can also help by making the recruiting process more efficient through automation, specifically in resume screening. Weeding out the wrong type of candidate will give you a better idea of exactly what you are looking for in the right one.

Use Topgrading interview techniques

Topgrading is a comprehensive interview technique that gives a holistic view of a candidate’s professional background and personality. Candidates are classified as “A, B, or C Players”, and the goal of using this process is to create a high-quality workforce with top-performing “A-player” employees. By asking chronological questions about past events, challenges, successes, and what has led to their current experience, skills, and knowledge, you can better understand the candidate’s motivations and values. Example questions include, “Give an example of a problem you faced and how you solved it,” or “Describe a typical day at your previous job.”

It’s important to ask only job-related questions and ask the same questions to all candidates to remain unbiased. Keep your questions open-ended and ask for specific examples, and use an evaluation form to take good notes and debrief with your colleagues immediately following the interview.

Trust us, it works! We use Topgrading here at ProService, and it’s one of the reasons why we have such a hardworking team dedicated to delivering outstanding customer service.

Evaluate candidates

The best way to retain all the information shared during each interview is to use a standard evaluation form and complete it immediately after the session. Choose 15-20 competencies to compare candidates in areas like technical ability, communication skills, drive/problem solving, teamwork, and interest in company, which will help to evaluate whether the candidate is a right fit for the role and for your company culture. Score each candidate based on how their answers match up to the criteria, while also including any additional comments on what made the candidate stand out. At this stage, it’s important to ask, “Do we have enough information to make a good decision?” and “Do we want this person to work for us?”

If you can’t answer yes to both questions, keep looking for the right candidate!

Make the offer

Congratulations, you’ve found the right hire for the role! Make the job offer verbally with a window to accept or decline, and follow-up in writing when accepted. Key items to include in an offer letter package are: a welcome note, contingencies, salary, effective date, benefits, any special agreements (unpaid time off in the first year, etc.), the job description, and whether there will be an introductory period. And make sure to think about which items are negotiable in case the candidate makes a counteroffer.

Onboard new hires

The hiring process doesn’t end at the offer letter. It’s important to train and encourage new hires to succeed. By making your onboarding program and processes engaging, new hires feel welcomed and empowered with knowledge about your business. Use managers who know and love the business to welcome new staff and involve senior leaders to show top-down involvement.

With more and more companies in Hawaii competing in the same talent pool, it’s crucial for business owners to make the interview process effective. Learn more about these best practices and the five core elements of a comprehensive total rewards program to help you find and hire the right talent in our upcoming webinar, “Win Talent With a Total Rewards Strategy.” Learn more here!

Should You Keep HR In-House or Get an HR Partner?

When it comes to managing HR, you generally have two options: you can grow your HR team in-house, or you can share the workload with an HR partner through a strategy we call outsourcing. Let’s take a look at these two options.

Before we dig in to the debate, let’s quickly define what goes into HR, or Human Resources. Essentially, HR is anything and everything that relates to the management of your workforce. It involves recruiting and hiring new employees, assessing, managing and motivating existing ones, paying people on time, thinking through workplace safety, and adhering to labor laws too—to simply name a few things.

Did we mention admin and paperwork too? There’s plenty of that to go around also.

When it comes to your employee management and responsibilities, employers generally have two options: you can grow your HR team internally, or you can share the workload with an HR partner.

Let's take a look at these two options.


Option 1: DIY in-house

Handling all of your HR in-house is certainly an option—whether you take it on yourself, add HR duties to an existing manager's role, or hire a HR specialist to tackle it full-time.

Choosing the do-it-yourself path gives you total responsibility over how you stay compliant, compensate your employees, offer benefits, and take care of your team.

DIY in-house also means a few other things worth noting:

  • A single source of talent. If you decide to handle things in-house, your business’s HR capacity and expertise is limited to the specific professional or professionals you hire.That is, once you’re able to find excellent talent to join your team (remember, Hawaii’s unemployment is at a record low).
  • You own all the risk. Employment compliance? Payroll liability? Claims management? When you take things in-house, you become 100% responsible for all these liabilities. According to the Small Business Association, the average cost of an employee-related lawsuit in the United States is $150,000. When the stakes are this high, you want to be sure you (or someone on your team) knows the ins-and-outs of employer laws and HR rules.
  • It’s a good idea, until it’s not. Handling everything in-house may seem like a good idea until you run into a problem. Think of it like this: We’ve all seen a home remodel show or two. A DIY kitchen remodel can seem like a fantastic idea, and it might even kickoff smoothly—until you run into a problem with your drywall seams, and the impact is costly. The same thing applies to employee management.
  • It’s an added cost. If you choose to hire a dedicated HR pro, there’s the added cost of their wages. According  to PayScale, HR managers in Honolulu earn ~$64,000 per year. But don’t get us wrong here: We 100% believe in the value of having a dedicated HR pro on your team if you have the means. The key is to make sure they have time to add strategic value to your business and your people—rather than juggling all your back-office HR admin work instead.


Option 2: Share the workload with an HR partner
Another option is to join forces and share a portion of your employer responsibilities with a local HR partner. While you still need someone internally to do the strategic day-to-day, face-to-face people-work of HR, an outside partner can help you with certain back-office functions like payroll, benefits, workers’ compensation claims, compliance, and a variety of other HR tasks.

It’s a strategy that can streamline your workforce management, reduce your employer liabilities, give you access to a greater pool of specialized talent, and even lower your labor costs.


Still weighing your options? Download our free ebook to learn more about the three big benefits of HR partnerships in Hawaii.