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How to Prevent Job Titles from Losing Their Value?

Title inflation is nothing new. HR departments have been rebranding their employees with creative titles for a while now.

By Laura Morgan, Managing Partner at MorganHR

Job titles are not free, so why are companies passing them out like candy?

If you’re not careful, wrongly staging your employees’ careers could be like promoting a first grader to eighth grade. They will lose out on necessary skills that are taught along the path and will end up being in an artificially high position with more responsibilities (and expectations of their own) than you intended. How to Prevent Job Titles from Losing Their Value?

Title inflation is nothing new.

HR departments have been rebranding their employees with creative titles for a while now. But has this had a negative impact on our work culture? The proliferation of new job titles may be an attempt to make oneself look better than what they are, or it could simply be an attempt to distinguish between different levels of responsibility within a department. It could also be seen as an opportunity to create a more inclusive and empowered workforce. Whatever the reasoning behind it, there are some major issues that come along with title inflation, and it’s imperative that we prevent it from happening.

Let’s take a simple example to see what title inflation might look like.

Say you have an employee who is solely in charge of all of your marketing efforts. They aren’t an analyst, since that title implies the specialization of one avenue or process. They’re likely a director. But what is their actual title? If your instinct was to say Marketing Director, you’d be right! What happens when you assign them a Director of Marketing role? Suddenly someone who should, on average, be paid around $80k/year (according to Glassdoor in Chicago) searches their job title and finds that they should be making $128k/year. See the problem? Suddenly your Marketing Director is convinced they are underpaid, and they are likely going to come to you about it.

So, your Marketing Director is given a “Director of Marketing” title. Beyond the salary inconsistency, the employee now has Director of Marketing on their resume. There are certain skills that are learned while on the path from Director Right to Director Left, and making that leap inhibits that learning, much like my first to eighth-grade example earlier (unless you have a robust training plan that will get them up to speed before the first performance review). What if the seven-year-old were to transfer schools? Can they fulfill the role of an eighth-grader in this new environment? Most likely not, so why would you set your employees up for the same failure?

Having a fair and accurate organizational design is crucial for the confidence and success of your employees.

I encourage you to look into your own organization – are your job titles accurate to the work your employees are doing? If not, I am more than happy to help.

Repurposing Plastic and Other ESG Goals

By Amanda Morgan, a Consulting Associate at MorganHR

LEGO, Patagonia, Nestlé, Procter and Gamble, Apple, and Unilever– what do these companies have in common? They’re working towards transitioning from a linear to a circular plastics economy as a part of their ESG and DEI goals.

LEGO is changing the game by developing a prototype for 100% recycled PET plastic bricks. Patagonia has changed the clothing game since ’93 by transforming discarded bottles into recycled polyester. Now, they are incorporating production waste and old garments in their reach for reuse over-extraction. Nestlé is decreasing their use of virgin plastics by one-third and reaching 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025. Procter and Gamble are stretching for 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2030, but they’re starting with halving their petroleum-based plastic use by the end of this year. Apple is working to reduce the quantity of plastic packaging while also exploring using recycled and fiber-based alternatives for their petroleum and virgin plastics. Unilever plans to decrease virgin plastic use by 50% within the next four years. They are committed to designing reusable, recyclable, or compostable products while collecting and processing more plastic than is sold.

It’s no question that companies are placing a heavier focus on being environmentally friendly. Especially since climate change is such a hot topic. Companies are starting to communicate their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals. We looked at the history of ESG and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) in the workplace after discussing how to read between the lines of a company’s proxy statement. As I’m sure you are, we’re finding that more companies are adding their ESG and DEI goals to their proxy statements and other public communications. Why?

What is the purpose behind a company’s ESG/DEI statements and goals?

To answer that question in brief, I’d say values. Think about it: there is more than money behind decisions, right? Money is absolutely a motivator, but a company is built, designed, and led based on the culture and values that it stands behind. Not to mention that investors and other stakeholders will be more inclined to support a company whose values align with their own. ESG/DEI goals are another way for a company to display its values, and they are becoming ever more popular. So, let me ask you, what are your company’s ESG goals? How were they decided?

Some readers may have an immediate answer, as they either designed the goals themselves or have great internal communication. Others may have an idea of their ESG goals but are unsure where to start or how to communicate that with the rest of the company. At MorganHR, we are always ready for what’s coming around the corner, so if you’re caught up in making informed and up-to-date decisions regarding setting ESG goals, let us help you.

Learn Something Essential

By Neil Morgan, Managing Partner at MorganHR and Creator of SimplyMerit

Many old-world skills are on the endangered list. When was the last time that you went foraging for mushrooms in the forest? My mother did as a child. Within one generation, the ability to identify edibles has seemingly disappeared… or has it?

We live in an age where you can learn virtually anything sitting on your couch. Yet, with all of this instantly at our fingertips, many of us would rather rely on the trappings of our modern society… drive to the grocery store to pick up mushrooms or throw lighter fluid (and TONS of it) on a stack of firewood to start a bonfire.

Over the past several years, I’ve become increasingly interested in some basic skills that fall under the category of “bushcraft.” With YouTube and other streaming services, I’ve honed my knife sharpening skills, lit my passion for starting bonfires with nothing more than a Ferro rod, and secured my skills around tying a dozen useful knots.

Bonfires are an essential part of our backyard and RV fun. Having the fire building skills to source the materials from nature (bark from birch trees for the tinder source, twigs for the kindling, and larger branches for the fuel), to stage the materials to allow the fire to build gradually, and then to ignite a roaring fire from nothing more than a spark from a Ferro rod is immensely gratifying. But passing these skills onto the kids is by far the most rewarding.

Since getting into bushcraft, I’ve added a small pocket knife as an EDC (Everyday Carry). I keep this knife, a larger fixed blade knife, and a hatchet sharpened and honed using both a whetstone and a strop. Having a super sharp knife is an amazing experience whether you’re cooking in the kitchen or working wood for the bonfire.

Now, you’d be surprised how often you need to tie knots outside of tying your shoes. And while there are probably hundreds of knot variations, there are a handful of knots that will get you through life just fine. By far, my favorite is Corporals Corner improvised trucker’s hitch. It’s a quick way to secure loads or to string up a rope between trees on which to hang gear or tents.

Learning should never stop. There is so much information available literally at our fingertips that I challenge you to find something new and potentially master a skill.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Recruitment and Retention in a Post-Pandemic Environment

By Stacy Fenner, Auxin Group Program Director at MorganHR

52% of North American employees plan to look for a new job this year according to Achievers Workforce Institute. 47% of employees will look for a new job if their employer doesn’t offer hybrid work. Companies face a significant risk of losing talent if they are not looking at ways to engage and shift recruitment and retention strategies.

What strategies will work?  First, put up your own mirror.  When have you been the most motivated to get up and turn on that laptop/drive into work early? It is most likely when you feel your contribution is valued, you have clarity in your goals, you are part of a team, and you have the freedom and flexibility to make an impact. Plus, you most likely enjoy the people you work with and can have a little fun during the workday.

What has changed in the past year and a half? The pandemic put a roadblock in front of employee engagement, but companies quickly adapted to keeping their employees engaged in a remote work environment. From prioritizing employee WELLNESS to virtual talent shows, there are many ways to retain your current team and even recruit new employees.

Unfortunately, the Turnover Tsunami is real, but there are many ways to keep your employees happy and engaged right where they are. Here are some actionable steps to take:

  1. Give Positive Feedback
  2. Encourage creativity and innovation
  3. Respect and Value Employees
  4. Provide Opportunities to Grow (Personally and professionally)
  5. Earn trust
  6. Provide Challenges
  7. Create a Healthy work-life balance
  8. Include employees and provides connection
  9. Ensure salary is competitive
  10. Provide a safe and comfortable environment both in the office and home

These are just a few suggestions, as there are hundreds of more ways to keep your employees happy. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but the common denominator is that employees want to feel that they belong where they are now. If you’re not sure where to start making improvements on your retention/recruitment strategies, don’t worry. MorganHR offers just-in-time coaching to help with the compensation conversations and strategies for managers and HR professionals. Plus, Auxin Group promotes employee balance and development by offering bite-sized WELLNESS® and development opportunities at their fingertips with our app.

To retain and win talent during this unique time, leaders across the organization have to take part in retention and recruitment strategy development, and with MorganHR, we can come up with the best plans together.

Remember Everyone’s Invisible Backpack

I have one. You have one. Your family members and friends have one. The cashiers at the grocery store have their own. Your children’s teachers, your co-workers, your doctor… literally everyone is walking around with an invisible backpack loaded with stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

These emotions are hitting all of us because we are living with so much uncertainty. Is my job secure? What’s going to happen with my kids’ camp this summer? What about the fall? This is unchartered territory. There are no rituals or rules or lanes to guide us. When we are adrift and overwhelmed with endless worries, the filters disappear, and our words don’t always come out quite right. We unintentionally ignite a fire with another human being. In these intense moments, when someone else’s comments hit you hard, be forgiving. Remember the backpack, theirs and yours. Their backpack affects what they say, and your backpack affects what you hear.

Instead, I urge you to acknowledge the backpack. Talk about the worries. It’s ok to ask others about them… and go beyond the surface.  Check out this article that suggests 20 questions to ask instead of “How are you doing?” It will lead to a more open and honest conversation, a deeper connection, and you both may come out of it with a little less in your backpack.

What is Self-Development? Is it an oxymoron?

By Laura Morgan, Managing Partner at MorganHR 

Managers are eager to discuss development plans with their employees. The list of ideas is generated to help the employee select the growth-oriented exposure to a key project or the certification courses that would augment their understanding. The employee is also encouraged to read, be mentored, and participate in leadership development programs with special experiences and coaching. Is that enough? I think development happens when someone’s mind is exposed to new ideas AND when they have a way to discuss, gain opinions, and receive feedback on their interpretation of it all. 

What is the definition of development? 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, development is defined as the process of growing or changing into a more advanced, larger, or stronger form. It’s a relative process: people experience their own development in different ways, which is a function of their personalities, background, learning style, and preferences. What you might think of as good training, for example, might not be relevant for an employee who comes from a different background. The disconnect might be due to a lack of experience, lack of financial resources, or a multitude of other reasons. So while development can mean a variety of things to different people, it can be easily described, for our sake, as bringing the employee up to speed in terms of their applicable knowledge and skills.  

What is missing with self-development? 

In many organizations, employees think of self-development as a career enhancer or a simple learning opportunity. Let’s just go back to that oxymoron “self-development”. How can you truly grow into a more “advanced form” by yourself? What is missing when you read development articles or attend lectures? Discussions & debates are key in digging deeper into your own development. The best way to strengthen a muscle is to add resistance, so why don’t we automatically do the same with our professional development?  

The best ways to improve development 

Often, managers are invested to create these exposures and identify development opportunities to help their employees. That is true for those managers with budgets and open access to these amazing tools and systems. When you don’t have the budget or team of trainers available, where do you turn? At MorganHR, we foster conversations, debates, and feedback-oriented discussions that stretch and shape each other’s development. We all have experience with speed bumps and roadblocks in our paths, and when we can learn from others’ expertise, we begin to foster our own growth and development.  

When working on your own development, you become focused on improving. You may even get stuck in a tunnel vision mindset that prevents you from seeing the forest from the trees. If you really want to strengthen and develop your skills, take your new ideas and learnings and share them with others. Get into discussions and challenge each other’s interpretations. You need to be exposed to more than your own thoughts and to be able to shift, shape, and strain (in some cases). Otherwise, it is to self-vacuum, not develop. 

Two Truths, or a Lie?

By Laura Morgan, a Managing Partner at MorganHR  

Have you ever heard anyone truly use the “my dog ate my homework” excuse?  I don’t think so as I’m sure many would agree that people have a great ability to dodge a negative more creatively.  No? As a mom of four spanning 14 years among them, I’ve been lucky to have been regularly entertained by my kids’ responses made by my children when I challenge them to explain their naughty behavior.  “Honey, didn’t we tell you not to bring food upstairs?” and the response, “well, I had it in my hand when you asked me to go get [that thing] and I forgot it after laying it on the dresser.” “Sweetheart, how is it that your grades are slipping?  Are you getting your homework in on time?” and the response, “well, you wanted me in all of those sports and do those chores.”  “Honey, why is your tub so filthy?  What did you use that is pink?” and the response, “I don’t know.  It just is pink.  I have no idea” to later see in the garbage a wrapper of a bath bomb. 

The saying goes that two truths create a lie. This statement is rooted in the idea that telling only part of the truth, or making a false statement, can be more damaging than outright lying. And it turns out, science agrees with this idea. 

In his TED Talk on “The Power and Peril of Storytelling,” psychologist Dr. Rosen explains how “We’re all natural storytellers.” Everything we do is affected by our personal stories–even when those stories may not be accurate. In other words, when we tell partial truths or omit information in order to portray ourselves in an approved light, we actually risk coming across as less trustworthy and less credible than someone who tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

Do you think it is possible that every human has told one lie at least in their lifetime?  What about every year?  What about every week?  Or every day?  Do you wonder?  Now, I’m a mom and, to give me some credit, I have been in HR for more than 30 years.  While not a psychologist, I have been told that I am a pretty good lie detector.  It is just incredible to look back on my career and remember how often people just lie flat out, to your face.  One trick I learned from the lying experts, was the ‘two truths tactic’ – put two truths together and they can deceive the people in the room.  For example, one leader told me that she got the approval for a salary change that was pretty extreme.  I asked her did her leader really approve it.  She said, “Laura, I spoke with them.  He was okay with the recommendation.”  What I realized was that she did speak with them, but didn’t get approval for this specific recommendation but for another one.  Two truths.  Very creative. 

There are many memories of lies being shared.  Heck, there are games to encourage good lying.  Now back to my skills as a mom.  I have learned that when all else fails, tell your children that they better cover their mouths when they lie because their lies have colorful words that you can see.  Good luck. 

Impact Considerations on Colorado’s new EPEWA and EPEWA part 2

By Alex Morgan, Operations Manager at MorganHR 

Effective January 1, 2021, employers with employees in Colorado have new disclosure requirements for their job postings. This new Act is currently the most significant of its kind in the United States. Colorado requires that all employers with jobs in Colorado post positions with specific compensation and benefits information specified in their postings. The employer must include the pay range they genuinely believe it would be willing to pay for the job; a general description of any bonuses, commissions, or other compensation; and a general description of all benefits (health care, retirement, PTO, and any other tax-reportable benefits) the employer is offering for the position. With the significant shift to remote work following the lockdowns and social distancing restrictions brought forth to slow the spread of COVID-19, these requirements impact companies that even have only one employee who lives in Colorado. 

If a company has at least one employee in Colorado and is posting a job opening on the internet for a position that could be filled by someone who lives in Colorado, they must disclose the abovementioned pay and benefits information. The disclosure requirement has profound implications related to pay practice privacy and can easily damage small businesses that cannot afford the same level of pay as mega-corporations. Additionally, it reveals information that has historically been kept close to the chest to prevent competitors from using the information nefariously. Most compensation salary surveys require that at least five companies submit pay data for a particular job for the ranges to be included in the survey results. Colorado is overreaching here and should lead companies to take measures to protect themselves and their pay practices. 

Johnson & Johnson, DigitalOcean, and Drizly are a few of the companies posting remote positions and excluding Colorado residents from the possible hiring pool. Interestingly, state and local governments feel the need to create laws for something already illegal based on the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Disclosing pay practices can lead to employee dissatisfaction because many workers do not understand the differences in pay caused by seniority, merit, productivity, geographic differential, background, etc. This act is already having a negative impact on the hiring process for Colorado employees. We encourage you to stay informed and protect your policies and practices. Sharing the details of comp without all the facts can cause confusion and misinterpretation surrounding how you value your employees.  

The Colorado Pay Equity Law is Yet Another Jab to Small Businesses

By Laura Morgan, a Managing Partner at MorganHR 

While transparency is the goal, the Colorado Pay Equity Law of January 1 this year places an extreme undue hardship on small businesses.  This law requires companies with one or more employees to post the complete compensation range and benefits for any posted position.  This is not only salary but bonus targets, insurance, etc.   As a compensation consultant for more than 15 years, it is very uncommon for smaller businesses (under 300 employees) to purchase and have the available, expensive salary surveys to determine salary ranges.  As a common approach, these companies identify the salary range when they make an offer typically based on the candidate’s salary requirements.  If they can afford the salary of someone that feels would be a great addition to their team, they then work up an offer and work up what they can pay.  This law now forces small business employers to actually screen out higher-skilled, potential candidates by sharing a range that may not truly be the range. 

Then there is the most obvious issue.  Many employers can’t afford the deep-dive experts to help them shape these ranges.  Developing a salary range is more involved than just sharing what you are wanting to pay.  The affordability, market data, financial goals, local/state taxes, and business growth projections all factor into building compensation and benefits strategies.   The challenge now placed on these small business employers is hurtful.   

It is also known that the larger companies, i.e., Google, are reacting to this law by ensuring remote working employees living in Colorado are not eligible.  These transparency rules have an impact that extends beyond Colorado.  Recent remote worker job postings are actually excluding Colorado residents from being eligible to apply.  

MorganHR has created a solution to help smaller businesses have access to compensation expertise and data on-demand and in smaller, bite-sized options.  Our compensation community has posted their availability on our app to help anyone with compensation questions – modeled into 15, 30, and 60-minute intervals.  If you come equipped with your questions and schedule time on our Auxin App, you’ll have on-demand expertise ready to work through your challenge.  If the challenge does require additional time, our experts will guide you on how to move forward when and if you are ready.  

Does Your Dog Want You Working from Home?

Does Your Dog Want You Working From Home?

By Laura Morgan, Managing Partner at MorganHR 

If you are working from home and have a dog, you are slowly being programmed and probably don’t realize it.  Think about it.  Before working remotely, you had your schedule.  You left the house to get to work on a consistent and predictable schedule.  You came home on a very predictable schedule, too.  You arranged to have either a caretaker or standard schedule where they conformed to your schedule.  You would arrange for extended care when you wanted to.  Remember how your dog was so excited to see you with a wildly wagging tail when you came home?  You may not have been in a good mood but when you got home, your dog worked to make you happy.   

The remote work schedule, or lack thereof, has clearly shifted the roles of the dog owner.  The more time your dog sees you in the home, the more the dog maneuvers your schedule to conform to theirs.  Now that you are working remotely, your dog has not only created your schedule, but now has the ability to tell you when you are happy.  When you were at the office, your happiness was evaluated by you, your friends and coworkers, and your boss.  You had control to remove yourself from the environment when you needed more happiness.  You’d head to the gym or out for a beer.  Now, your dog has the control on your happiness.  How convenient it is for the dog to see that you are finally starting to relax and get some work done.  Feeling confident and control.  Then your dog barks, disturbs the peace, insists it is time to go outside in the rain or he’ll make a large issue for you to address.  Your dog is in control.  He likes you to work from home in this new remote world and he has you convinced that you like it too. 

Now let’s evaluate your happiness.  Are you the one in control and your dog works to make you happy or vice versa?  Think about it.  Watch for the signs and stay in control.  Do you have a schedule or does your dog create it?  Do you get to relax when you want or can you find calm only when the dog is asleep?  Does your dog seem to be more mischief-oriented now that you’re home? 

I challenge you to reflect on the last 10 zoom calls.  At least one of 10 had someone ‘apologize’ for their dog.  I was on a conference call and my client shouted, “no way!  What are you doing???!!!”  He dropped the phone to tell me that his dog decided to poop right there in front of him.  No warning.  No bark.  My client had to disconnect to deal with the dog.  Stressed and overwhelmed.  

I have an employee that has a dog and the schedule is controlled by his dog.  He has to walk the dog or face domestic challenges by his dog.  Another employee on our team had to jump off the call because her dog decided it was time to go for a walk and headed into speeding traffic.  He wanted her to conform and go for a walk on his schedule.  Is this the new reality of working from home?  Are invisible collars being placed on us?  I do think the dogs are figuring out that our consistent presence gives them the control.  When Orwell wrote Animal Farm, he didn’t envision computers and the ability to work from home other than being on a true farm.  Imagine if he was here to write about the animal takeover today.