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How Leaders Can Create an LGBTQ-Inclusive Workplace

A Williams Institute study in 2018 found that 4.5% of the U.S. population self-reported identifying as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender). The real number is probably much higher, as diversity and inclusion expert Stephanie Huckel’s work suggests as many as 46% of LGBTQ professionals feel compelled to hide who they truly are in the workplace, which means any formal study probably skews quite low in terms of representation.

Any successful HR professional or C-suite executive knows that no team member, no matter how intelligent, focused, and driven can truly do their best work in an environment where they don’t feel safe to be themselves. Maximizing productivity and buy-in from LGBTQ employees and their allies requires creating an environment where people are valued and protected in a way that’s both inclusive and transcendent of their sexuality or gender identity.

Moving forward, we’ll explore:
• The unique legal position of LGBTQ professionals
• Why LGBTQ-inclusive policies build a stronger, better organization
• Some general guidance for creating LGBTQ-inclusive practices

Addressing the Additional Stress on LGBTQ Professionals

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender professionals have disproportionately felt the pain of discrimination in hiring, firing, and promotion scenarios and continue to deal with explicit or exclusionary workplace harassment, even as it has universally unacceptable to target other protected groups in similar ways.

Some HR leaders and organizations find it hard to understand why their policies and procedures need to contain explicit language about LGBTQ non-discrimination or contain specific guidance about potential issues like homophobic harassment or gender transition procedures. The unfortunate current state of affairs is that LGBTQ professionals receive only patchy, implied federal protections, which means that unless their employers take a strong, proactive, supportive stance, their employment status can feel extremely vulnerable.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects individuals from gender or sex discrimination, but only conventional interpretation extends those protections beyond the definitions of “sex” and “gender” that were understood in 1964, when the law was written. While there have been efforts to expand the language of Title VII to create explicit protections for LGBTQ individuals, that work is currently stalled.

Those prevailing interpretations mean that LGBTQ professionals can file harassment or discrimination claims with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunities Commission), but that is a long, expensive process that often draws out the agony of harassment and can potentially negatively impact the victim’s future career prospects.

That inconsistent or just-implied federal support leaves an incredible spectrum of different professionals feeling like they have less agency and recourse in the workplace than their non-LGBTQ peers. With that said, almost half the states in the country have created laws that protect against gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination for both public and private workers.

Western States with LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination Protections: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico

Midwestern States with LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination Protections: Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois

Eastern States with LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination Protections: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C.

Businesses operating within any of those states are held to a reasonably high standard for LGBTQ inclusion, with a framework in place for wronged individuals to gain the protection of the court system and punish businesses for discriminatory practices or creating a culture of normalized harassment.

With that said, even in those states, the existence of a legal framework for recourse does not mean the non-existence of harassment or discrimination. Preventing those initial hurtful episodes still falls to each individual employer or workplace, and the businesses who master creating a fully-inclusive workplace will win over the trust and gain the ability to leverage the incredible skills of the LGBTQ workforce.

On the other hand, for LGBTQ citizens of the other 29 states, there is incredible need for either public or private protections. Some counties or cities have passed local non-discrimination laws to provide protections for their LGBTQ workforce and residents, but that means job hunting for many involves using a map of potential landing places that looks like Swiss cheese.

In areas where no public protections exist, LGBTQ professionals must rely on their employers to create, maintain, and enforce their own policies and procedures to prevent harassment and eliminate discrimination. Given both the historic struggles of the LGBTQ community and the historic struggles between employers and workers, it’s easy to see why many feel extremely cynical or insecure in that position.

With that said, businesses in those areas with no public protections who forge meaningful, inclusive policies that invite LGBTQ workers to be themselves, feel comfortable in their work space, and get powerful back-up from their employer have the opportunity to get first pick at an incredible pool of business-driving talent.

Why Proactively LGBTQ-Inclusive Policies Benefit Everyone

From an organizational perspective, LGBTQ inclusion is much bigger than the basic decency of protecting employees from discrimination and harassment. It’s about creating an environment where assessments of someone’s proficiency, abilities, and strengths or weaknesses are made based on performance data and demonstrated results, not assumptions. It’s about fostering a community where everybody’s insights, perspectives, and strengths are leveraged to the maximum through positive interdependence, shared goals, and empathy.

When businesses do that right, they set themselves up to win big in a few different ways. Let’s pause to explore how LGBTQ-inclusion is a matter of best practice.

It’s the Right Thing to Do
Profit has historically been valued above “doing the right thing” for businesses, especially large ones, but that’s starting to change culturally. In the current atmosphere, it’s more important than ever to consumers (and therefore the bottom line) that businesses operate in an inclusive manner.

Directly aligning a business or brand with strong, progressive values is no longer seen as a boat-shaking move that could scare off customers; on the contrary, numerous large businesses have seen themselves called out by consumers and advocacy groups in recent years for failing to articulate inclusive policies.

By being proactive about LGBTQ inclusion, a business shows their employees, prospective employees, investors, competitors, consumers, and the market in general that they’re concerned with talent, not exclusion.

Building Authentic Buy-In from Workers
Given the high percentage of LGBTQ workers who do not feel comfortable sharing their status in the workplace and the number of employees who do not report incidents in which they’re made to feel uncomfortable, it’s impossible to truly quantify how much productivity, innovation, and morale are lost each year due to inclusion gaps. With that said, any number is too high.

By creating a strong, supportive environment where inclusion feels like a true value and not just a legal concern, organizations can invite workers to feel both more invested and safer in a way that leads to better work and a healthier environment. When employers feel like allies and not just bosses, there’s more incentive to invest in the work and succeed together.

Equipping Leadership with the Tools to Solve Problems
When businesses aren’t proactive about policy, they often find themselves dealing with problems they don’t really have the tools to solve. On the other hand, proactive planning means that when a negative scenario (such as a problematic employee) does present itself, there is a procedure in place by which the problem can be handled and removed in a way that is richly-documented and will hold up in court.

Staying Ahead of Regulation
Depending on the outcomes of upcoming elections, significant increases in federal and local protections for LGBTQ professionals could be on the horizon. Businesses that have already articulated internal policies and created a strong, inclusive environment will be able to transition smoothly into whatever new framework might be created, while organizations that lagged behind get into dragged into accountability and regulation leave themselves vulnerable to potentially costly and reputation-damaging disasters.

In the world of business, it’s always important to be perceived as an innovator on the cutting edge. In the new talent marketplace and culture, being a human rights innovator is just as important as being a financial innovator. Inclusion is just one more way that a business can be ahead of the game in the quest to connect with talent and maximize organizational reputation.

Guidelines for Creating an LGBTQ-Inclusive Environment

Building a company that wins through inclusion requires long-term commitment, vision, and strategy, but here are a few tips to help guide organizations looking to articulate LGBTQ inclusion policies and procedures:

Policy creation
• Nomenclature: It’s important everybody in the workplace uses appropriate, professional terminology. Company policies should spell out acceptable and unacceptable terms and establish clear guidelines for workplace conversations. Furthermore, guidelines for appropriate pronoun use should be created and enforced for transgender and non-binary workers.
• Clearly articulated harassment/discrimination guidelines: As we said before, in order to create a strong, inclusive environment, businesses need to give themselves the tools to enforce the culture of inclusion and weed out bad apples in a richly documented, legally appropriate way.
-Reporting process – It’s not enough to say, “discrimination and harassment are bad;” it’s essential to have a well-organized, transparent, and trustworthy system that employees know how to use to report issues.
-Staffing for support – Policies need to be backed up by human faces who are dedicated to inclusion, equality, and building the best possible workplace culture. Working with a trusted HR partner such as Launchways can connect your team with actionable equality policies while mitigating the need for your business to hire an in-house support person.
• Ensuring there are no employee benefits gaps for LGBTQ professionals
-Comprehensive healthcare coverage that connects transgender, non-binary, or intersex professionals with the doctors they need is essential to keep the workforce healthy and provide equality.
-Transition support programs for transgender individuals must be available.
-Life insurance and other policies that account for non-binary identities and non-heteronormative concepts of family must be available.

Employee Training
• New Employee Orientation must introduce LGBTQ inclusion policies and hold hires accountable for knowing them.
• Allow for an evolving world by having a dedicated HR professional stay up to date on emerging themes and issues of LGBTQ inclusion and providing on-going professional development or training as needs are identified.
• Authenticity is required for employee education to really work. Meaningful role play and powerful, relevant speakers are required to make laggards take these issues seriously.
• Documentation of training creates a strong framework for accountability.

Fostering an Inclusive Culture
• Show organizational dedication to LGBTQ inclusion by adopting a relevant cause, raising money for a relevant charity, or raising awareness of LGBTQ issues in your local community.
• Create a welcoming, positive environment where people are treated as human beings with dignity and valuable assets with potential and skills.
• Make HR a driving force in pushing both leadership and rank-and-file workers to make inclusion, diversity, and LGBTQ rights key values.


LGBTQ inclusion is one of the most important issues facing businesses in the current climate. In order to connect with and retain great talent, organizations must demonstrate their commitment to fully supporting each individual worker in their professional journey, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. With potentially increased regulation looming, the businesses that are proactive will be the ones who articulate the best policies and align their corporate cultures with the winds of change.

Key Takeaways:

• LGBTQ professionals current receive patchy federal and state protection from workplace discrimination
-This can make the workplace a place of increased stress and anxiety, which means workers can’t be their best selves
• Regardless of local laws, businesses who proactively adopt LGBTQ-inclusive policies set themselves up to win with talent and build a future-facing organization
• Policies must be articulated clearly and explicitly designed with the needs, challenges, and support of LGBTQ professionals in mind in order to truly make a difference

Cash Bonuses Can Make Good Performers Become Top Performers: Here’s How

Businesses are only as good as their best assets. It may sound like a greeting card sentiment, but it’s absolutely the truth.

Hiring the right people shouldn’t be your only concern. In any industry, growth and success are only possible when top talent is fully bought-in and authentically motivated. That means that maximizing business returns requires an intentional strategy to ensure that smart, talented professionals see the incentive in working up to their superstar potential on a yearly, quarterly, and daily basis.

Cash bonuses are a classic way to reward and motivate employees around the holidays or at end-of-year, but they can also be incorporated as part of a regular employee engagement and retention strategy that helps top talent buy into your culture and maximize their work hours to deliver business-growing results.

In this article we’ll cover:
● Why cash bonuses are so powerful
● Why cash bonuses aren’t just for big, established companies
● Ways businesses can create an effective, fair cash bonus strategy

The Power of Cash

Cash is a powerful motivator. At the end of the day, it’s why most people go to work. Unfortunately, though, life gets in the way, and thanks to bills and other financial obligations, very few professionals feel like they’re ever able to fully enjoy the salary they earn.

More than ever, young professionals with impressive talents are also managing impressive debt. For many 35 and under, getting the right qualifications and building their skill set required $100,000 or more in student loans. That’s why, unlike any generation before them, rising millennial executives and top Gen Y talent often live bill-to-bill and paycheck-to-paycheck in a way that was previously associated with blue collar work.

Cash-strapped anxiety among white collar professionals isn’t limited to young talent, however. Increasingly, senior executives and professionals beginning to eye retirement must choose between today and tomorrow, finding themselves forced to either wear the belt tighter than ever in the closing years of their careers or risk outliving their retirement savings.

Most HR directors have recognized these emerging trends over recent years, but few businesses have articulated a strategy for alleviating these stressors. Salaries cover the bills, but can employees really be expected to do their best, biggest, most impactful thinking and work when they’re just covering the bills? Can innovation at the business or national level continue when people feel like they’re barely scraping by?

Pushing talented professionals at both the leadership and individual level requires genuine incentive, and in the current climate, cash is the greatest possible incentive.

Cash bonuses invite employees to make the purchases they want, not just the purchases they need, and get a direct, powerful snapshot of how their effort and hard work directly result in money and buying power. Whether it’s upgrading the TV, pulling together a down payment for a house, or planning a family vacation, a cash bonus at the right time can provide a significant lifestyle upgrade or a major weight off the shoulders.

While salary, benefits, and even equity show employees how they are valued in the talent marketplace, bonuses help them see how they are appreciated by their current employer. A timely cash bonus illustrates both company satisfaction with current performance and commitment to the worker’s long-term fluidity. This helps build the degree of buy-in that pushes brilliant minds toward innovation and profitability.

In the current climate, top talent is presented with more chances to switch teams and explore new opportunities than ever before. Maintaining a strong, highly motivated team requires providing compensation that doesn’t just work for employees but actively makes them feel good at what they do and the culture of the place in which they work.

Too often, people have mischaracterized cash bonuses as “buying loyalty,” but the fact of the matter is that in a diverse, competitive talent market, it is the employer who needs to demonstrate loyalty in order to maintain their top rising talent and motivate them to grow with the business.

When faced with the option of continuing at a company that offers cash bonuses, moving to a parallel role at a new employer that does not offer cash bonuses, or transitioning toward freelancing/consultation, there’s simply no question which situation the compensation-minded employee will choose, especially if they have a TV, house, or seat at a private school for their child that a bonus helped them afford.

Aren’t Cash Bonuses Just for Big Companies?

While many employers provide informal holiday or end-of-year bonuses, few have a clear, consistent cash bonus strategy. That’s in part due to the misconception that in order to offer employees a lump cash sum above their salary, you need a Fortune 500 bank account. In fact, lots of small and medium-sized businesses have never even considered offering regular cash bonuses because they’re not sure they can afford it.

Actually, well-scaled cash bonuses are one of the most effective ways small and medium-sized businesses can push their top talent to achieve and make themselves stand out compared to the competition. Bonuses feel especially impactful on a smaller scale and help employees feel bought-in in a way that pushes people to work in an innovative and company-centric manner. It just requires a little more creativity to get there.

The most classic way smaller firms can provide bonuses without obliterating cash funds is to spread that bonus out over a term. For example, a hypothetical $1,000 bonus could be paid out with $500 up front and an extra $100 per paycheck for a set number of terms.

This kind of partially deferred bonus is beneficial for both talent and the employer, as the employee receives both an impactful short-term bonus and, essentially, a short-term raise, while the employer avoids depleting their cash reserves, especially in a scenario where an entire team or department is being bonused. Practices such as these can help small businesses close the cash gap and offer competitive, rewarding bonuses.

Cash bonusing is also ideal for start-up owners who prefer to maintain as much of their equity as possible. A regular, achievable cash bonus framework empowers employees to see real returns faster than in a vesting scenario, making a bonus-powered business more appealing to talent compared to similar organizations that are asking potential employees to take a five-year bet.

Anchoring a Bonus Strategy

Here’s the thing with cash bonuses: they have to be fair, transparent, and grounded in carefully measured KPIs. One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that bonuses come from a black bag of discretionary money that leaders can use to reward their favorites. Building a culture in which cash bonuses are a valuable incentive and motivator for everyone means obliterating that preconception and presenting a clearly articulated approach to bonuses that gives employees brass rings to reach for and shows them that hard work is truly rewarded.

For each asset within the organization, bonus opportunities should be tied directly to expectations laid out in their individual job description and their performance on on-going projects and initiatives. That means strengthening the connection between leadership, accounting, payroll, and HR to ensure that there’s a clear vision for each position in the company and an understanding of what adequate and outstanding performance look like in each scenario.

Ideally, employees should sign on knowing what kind of bonuses they can qualify for from the outset and what kind of data gathering and analysis leaders will conduct in order to determine their eligibility. For organizations unveiling a new bonus strategy, it’s absolutely crucial that existing employees understand which aspects of their work and KPIs are tied to bonuses and what they can do to ensure they qualify. Regular check-ins from supervisors and leaders can reinforce the company-wide culture of working toward bonuses and keep individual team members bought into the system.

When rolled out correctly, a cash bonus incentive system can give long-time talent the push they need to make it to the next level while attracting new potential superstars. On the other hand, if rollout is fumbled or articulated poorly, a seemingly unclear or unfair system can actually hurt workplace culture.

Scheduling a Bonus Strategy

Given that clarity, transparency, and fairness are so crucial to using a cash bonus system as an employee motivator and attraction/retention tool, organizations must articulate from the outset how they will schedule bonuses. Traditionally, bonuses are given on a yearly, quarterly, or project-based schedule. Let’s quickly look at each of those approaches to discuss how they differ:

Advantages: Yearly cash bonuses have been traditional in the workplace for several centuries. Businesses can plan financially to bonus everybody at once. Workers get a large lump sum.

Disadvantages: A year is a long term, which means assessment is complex for leadership and bonuses are fewer and further between for workers.

Advantages: Business planning and accounting is typically conducted in quarters. Quarterly business metrics can most directly inform bonus decisions. Quarterly check-ins with employees regarding goals and company culture feel appropriate and unobtrusive.

Disadvantages: Assessing goals and tracking KPIs for all workers on a quarterly basis is a job unto itself, potentially for more than one person depending on company size.

Advantages: Milestone-based bonuses reward assets directly for getting work done. They provide a timely reward and a pat on the back.

Disadvantages: It’s easier to quantify and articulate bonus qualifications for some positions (e.g. project manager, sales professional, etc.) than others (e.g. graphic designer, service technician, etc.). Mindful planning must be employed to ensure fairness in terms of assignments.

Individual vs. Group bonuses:
One theme that we see across all these bonus scheduling strategies is that businesses must be mindful about whether they want to create an approach in which a large number of employees are potentially getting bonused around the same time or try to stagger assessments to provide massive cash pay-outs in a small time frame.

For smaller businesses and startups, spreading those payments out is preferable in most situations. That means staggering assessment quarters across the workforce, potentially deferring bonus payments out over a longer term, and calibrating bonus goals to be attainable but adequately lofty. All those concerns again speak to the necessity of extensive planning (both in terms of articulation and financial allocations) in the months before rollout.

Key Takeaways:

● Cash bonuses are especially relevant and attractive in a climate where many professionals are wrestling with debt or trying to secure retirement.
● Cash bonuses both attract new talent and provide current assets with the push they need to take their work to the next level.
● Businesses of any size can offer cash bonuses if they commit to a program and get creative. In fact, cash bonusing can be a good way for start-ups and smaller companies to protect equity.
● In order to work as employee motivators and attractors, bonus programs must be grounded in practices, schedules, and KPIs that are clearly codified and administered as part of a transparent system.

Are you interested in learning more about how to effectively leverage cash bonuses at your business? Don’t miss our upcoming webinar:

Everything You Need To Know About Executive Compensation

Why Employee Retention Is Your Best Weapon in the War for Talent

Why Employee Retention Is Your Best Weapon in the War for Talent

There are many reasons why employee retention is one of the most important considerations for your organization. Among these reasons, which include employee satisfaction and team morale, the biggest reason—or at least the easiest to measure—is cost.

And these costs also include the knowledge and experience that an employee gained while at the company; a loss that will turn into a several month-long learning curve for whoever replaces them.

Other reasons that employee retention should be carefully considered are that the organization’s performance and reputation could suffer with a lot of turnover, and that competition to hang on to top talent is heating up in a country with the lowest unemployment rate in decades.

So how many people are actually leaving their jobs, and why? What are the turnover costs for companies? And what can you do to revamp your retention efforts?

Here’s what you need to know about why employee retention is your best weapon in the war for talent.

Employee retention stats

A BambooHR onboarding survey, which surveyed over 1,000 U.S. employees, showed that 31% of workers have left a job within the first six months, and 68% of those workers have left within three. And data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that since January 2019, every month around 3.5 million employees have left their jobs voluntary. BLS data from 2018 showed workers had been with their current employer for an average of 4.2 years.

The BLS also reported that workers in the baby boom generation were found to hold an average of just under 12 jobs throughout his or her lifetime, between ages 18 and 50. However, nearly half of the 12 jobs were held between ages 18 and 24. This means that younger workers are more likely to shift more often, and so retention strategies should put emphasis on what would appeal to this younger population.

Why do employees leave?

It’s no surprise, really, that modern workers are hard to retain. It’s easier now than it’s ever been to research a new company or refresh a job board each and every day. With the endless resource that is the Internet, workers are learning more about what’s fair and what isn’t, what they could be getting paid versus what they are making.

But, the reason for the two-weeks’ notice has to stem from something specific and not so broad as “I wanted something better.” So what drives employees to leave?

The BambooHR survey mentioned above also reported the top three reasons that surveyed employees left their positions within the first six months:

  1. They were no longer interested in the work (28%)
  2. Their jobs were not what they had expected in the interview (26%)
  3. They didn’t like their boss (23%)

This feedback shows that an important part of a new job is transparency: if the work was nothing like what was described, employees aren’t going to feel great about that. If they deal with a rude manager, that’s another red flag. And when it’s only been a few months, they may feel less inclined to stick it out—they are less attached or invested in the company at this point than they would be years in.

As SHRM points out, other reasons that employees leave are because they found a better, more competitive alternative (perhaps a company that provides more benefits or higher salaries); they had a “predetermined plan” to quit because of life circumstances, such as going to get a degree or having a family; or they had a frustrating experience that led them to act on impulse. An example of the latter could be that they didn’t receive a promotion or raise when they thought they deserved it.

In addition, a survey from America’s Health Insurance Plan (AHIP) showed that 56% of respondents said health coverage was a key factor in whether or not they stayed at their current job. According to a SHRM survey, 92% of employees said that benefits remain important to their job satisfaction, and that 29% of employees cited their benefits package as one of the top reasons to look for another position within the next year.

The cost of turnover

The average cost per hire is over $4,000, according to a study from the SHRM, and it takes 42 days on average to fill a given position. Whether or not that number would be much higher or lower for your company, there’s no arguing that costs are substantial. In addition to these financial setbacks, there’s no one in the role doing the work, putting strain on your other employees.

Also keep in mind that those covering the work while a position is being filled may expect to be compensated for the extra work, adding to the costs even more. So needless to say, turnover is not only frustrating, reputation-hurting, and time-consuming, it’s also expensive.

How to revamp your employee retention strategy

To win the war for talent that’s currently going on in the U.S., it’s time to revamp your retention strategy. Based on the common reasons people leave their jobs above, consider these methods:

1. Clearly communicate job duties and expectations

As already mentioned, it can be upsetting or surprising to a new hire if the duties discussed in the interview were not accurate to the job they suddenly find themselves in. This is why it’s not always enough for an HR rep to do the interview and why a manager or colleague who will have similar duties should be engaged in the candidate-seeking process.

2. Update your benefits package

Because workers hold health and other benefits as a top priority in their decision to stay at their jobs, 85% of HR professionals say that they use benefits as a strategic tool to positively impact recruitment and retention, according to an SHRM benefits survey. For example, new trends include updates to parental benefits, such as maternity and paternity leave and adoption leave.

But another part of updating your employee benefits is about work-life balance. Modern employees look for jobs with flexibility offerings, such as working from home or different working hours. These considerations are especially important when catering to the younger generations, who value workplace culture and flexibility.

According to the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, half of millennials surveyed said that they would consider working in the gig economy. This lifestyle appealed to them because of the chance to earn more money (58%), to work their own hours (41%) or to achieve better work/life balance (37%).

3. Encourage position transfers within the company

Another smart move to better retain and satisfy employees is to discuss their end goals and their satisfaction in their current roles, and encourage them to look into other departments if they’re not happy. Some companies are implementing this idea into their policies and procedures, so employees can easily look at their handbook and find out if this is an option.

4. Talk about pay equality and diversity

Pay equality and diversity are two hot topics in today’s workplace culture. Young employees want to know that they’re being compensated for their hard work and dedication, and it will be easy for them to tell if decisions like wage range is based on discriminatory factors.

If this hasn’t been a focus yet for your company, start by offering trainings or seminars where employees can learn or share. Express your commitment to these issues so that employees know you’re thinking about it.

5. Ask for feedback

Another tried-and-true way to get inside the heads of your employees is to simply ask them. Don’t try to guess how happy they are or how satisfied they are with their work or department. Implement employee surveys that are anonymous so they feel comfortable sharing. Hold discussions where employees can provide their opinions, thoughts, and feelings about the company and what could be improved.

It also can’t hurt to introduce new perks in the office, like a Friday lunchtime game or regular outings after work. These opportunities for interaction can help leaders become aware of issues or successes.

Key takeaways

Retention is key with the current dips in the unemployment rate, which are only getting lower. You need to create a retention plan that addresses real concerns that your employees are having.

Remember to:

  • Clearly communicate expectations during interviews and throughout the candidate-seeking process.
  • Update your benefits package (including work-life balance and flexibility benefits) regularly, based on what your workforce cares about.
  • Encourage position transfers within the company.
  • Discuss and address pay equality and diversity concerns that arise all the time in modern workplaces.
  • Involve employees in decision-making so that you can take their feedback into account.

These strategies will help you to stand out from competitors and retain quality talent. Make sure you give these considerations due care, and your overall workplace environment will improve (not to mention you’ll save on the high costs of filling positions that experience turnover regularly).

Don’t miss our upcoming webinar “How to Win the War For Talent“.

Improving Employee Healthcare: The Vital Role of the CEO

The healthcare industry in the U.S. is in the midst of major market disruption.  As systems condense and integrate and nontraditional players enter the marketplace, guiding this transformation will require smart, bold action on a variety of fronts.

Human Resource teams and insurance companies have traditionally led the way when it comes to initiating and implementing improvement efforts. While they have achieved some level of success, there is opportunity to do more. Surprisingly, in the abundance of material on healthcare improvement planning, we find very little that speaks to the role of one central individual—the CEO. What precisely should be the task of the CEO, and how is this role different from that of other executives or other stakeholders?

In today’s fast-moving business environment, companies cannot settle for incremental improvement; they must occasionally make radical changes to remain competitive. This is particularly true in the age of market disruption.  In this post, we’ll look at some of the market dynamics that are driving the need to improve the healthcare delivery and cost model and examine several best practice actions CEOs can take to help accelerate these improvements, including: 

  • Clear communication
  • Strategic collaboration
  • Leading by example

Healthcare as a core business issue

A fundamental management tenant is that leaders take personal ownership of their company’s toughest challenges. Still, despite persuasive arguments, many CEOs have not treated health care costs as a central business issue. They often transfer the responsibility to other internal teams or departments that lack accountability for the company’s financial performance. This is not the optimum approach.

Getting CEOs to approach health care costs like they do other parts of their business can deliver substantial performance results. Key attributes CEOs can bring to the forefront are their motivational and influencing capabilities. They can help bolster improvement efforts by communicating the rationale for healthcare changes, securing beneficial alliances and modeling the desired changes. 

  • Clear communication. CEOs regularly make gutsy decisions that affect employees, from closing business units to discontinuing strategic operations. They make clear the reasons for the changes, and employees acknowledge them as a part of their workplace reality. Communicating health care changes should be no different.

The area of cost containment and balancing rising healthcare expenses with employee expectations is a good example. Controlling costs often requires steering employees to providers that can deliver high-quality care at the lowest price.  But imposing limitations or implementing any type of healthcare change can be met with stiff opposition—even though the change may be in the best interest of all parties.

This is where honest, transparent communication is vital.  Case in point: Walmart confidently uses financial incentives to guide employees toward a number of pre-selected centers of excellence— specialized programs with concentrated areas of expertise— for expensive medical procedures. The practice has resulted in significant cost savings. Employee complaints have been minimal because the company’s leadership has effectively communicated the reasoning and logic for the practice just as they do with any other important change in company strategy.

  • Strategic collaboration.  Strategic partnerships are essential for remaining competitive in today’s highly disruptive business environment. To become more entrenched in the ecosystems that employees engage in, it’s important for CEOs to strengthen and expand their alliances with a broader range of partners in and outside the healthcare market. CEOs are ideally positioned to work with potential partners to identify ways to work together for mutual advantage.

The trend toward value-based care will continue to drive companies to closely scrutinize their healthcare options and fine-tune their cost management approach. Business can’t do much about shifting market dynamics. But they can team together to more effectively negotiate with providers and help ensure that healthcare quality is in line with costs. Bottom line: CEOs who form smart alliances and are proactive in their collaborative approach will save more on health care as will their employees.

  • Leading by example: When substantial financial risk is at state, CEOs have a fundamental duty to roll up their sleeves and get personally involved. Leaders who give only lip-service to an improvement effort will find everyone else following suit.

Modeling the behavior you want and creating a personalized story will help employees buy into in the improvement approach by answering their pressing questions, such as “What are we changing?”  “How will it be implemented?” and “How will it impact me?” People will go to surprising lengths for issues they believe in, and a compelling example set by the CEO will establish and reinforce their loyalty (and participation) in the effort.

Key takeaways

CEOs are uniquely positioned with the responsibility and authority to articulate the strategy, vision and goals that frame every new business challenge or initiative. This is especially true when it comes to managing a transformation as significant and sensitive as employee healthcare.

For CEOs leading healthcare transformation, there is no single model for success. But they can place the odds in their favor by focusing on several core leadership actions: making the changes understandable and meaningful; modeling the preferred behavior; building a reliable and loyal team; and relentlessly pursuing results. Together, these efforts can generate the synergy needed to achieve tangible, lasting improvements.

Should you hire a head of HR? How to Know It’s the Right Time

If your business is like most, in the early stages it was all-hands-on-deck with everyone doing whatever it took to keep the organization afloat. You likely pieced together a human resources process with several people taking on various duties.

Managing HR may be something you can’t – or shouldn’t– use your valuable time to do, depending on the scale of your organization. If the leadership team of your small to medium sized business has been handling the HR tasks it may be time to hire an HR pro. However, how do you evaluate when is the right time to make that decision – and who you should hire to do which HR tasks?

In this post, we’ll discuss

  • Growing pains that indicate it’s time to add HR to your team
  • Tactical and strategic HR tasks
  • Types of HR employees
  • HR technology and outsourcing

Growing Pains

You’ve pieced together an HR process that seems to be working. Recruiting and hiring are handled by the business founder who’s been tasked with building a team from scratch. Your CFO manages payroll and compensation and handles benefits issues. Meanwhile, your admin or office manager processes new hire forms and requests for time off.

Then you hit a snag.

  • You’re not attracting the best candidates
  • An overburdened key employee quits
  • You face legal and compliance issues
  • You don’t have a process to make essential hires quickly and effectively

With so many competing priorities, you may find it challenging to prioritize HR. Perhaps your top pick for a critical role turned you down because you haven’t had the time to research what’s in a competitive benefits package, let alone put one together. You missed out on another candidate when they lost interest because you spent your time screening candidates for a different role instead of getting back to them. Then your admin quit because she couldn’t keep up with her “other duties as assigned” HR tasks while also assisting customers and supporting your sales team.

If that wasn’t bad enough, your legal fees are starting to add up. An employee filed a sexual harassment claim against your company. Then, because you misclassified a team member as exempt to avoid paying overtime, you’ve got a wage dispute on your hands.

But bad news isn’t the only reason to add HR to your team. Perhaps you landed a big contract and you need to add 20 people to your service team – yesterday. An important client wants you to add a second team to support another of their facilities. An online marketing campaign is bringing in three times the orders your staff can handle, and you’re starting to get backed up. HR issues can arise as your company grows because your existing team is just too busy to do it all. Other times, it’s because you “don’t know what you don’t know” when it comes to HR.

HR Duties

Low unemployment, new technology, and increasing employee expectations have caused basic HR processes to become much more involved. Putting thought into what your organization really needs in terms of HR support can help determine your long-term HR strategy. There are tactical and strategic aspects of modern HR teams. You can hire someone to prioritize tactical or strategic HR tasks: however, it’s difficult and impractical to hire someone to handle both these types of HR tasks.

Tactical HR

A tactical HR team member focuses on the manual administrative and technical tasks of HR.

Tactical duties:

  • Post job openings
  • Track and screen candidates
  • New employee orientation
  • Prepare and update employee records
  • Organizing and storing employee data
  • Ensuring state and federal compliance regulations are met
  • Processing payroll
  • Benefits administration
  • Time-off requests
  • Track mandatory compliance training

Strategic HR

Strategic HR focuses on your organization’s growth and long-term HR planning. A strategic HR staff person is more likely to be part of your leadership team than tactical HR staff. In today’s competition to recruit and retain the best talent, adding an HR strategist to your team often makes good business sense.

Strategic duties:

  • Company culture development
  • Employee engagement planning and implementation
  • Professional development and training
  • Job description creation and updates
  • Hiring to develop future leaders
  • Employee retention plan

Types of HR Employees

You can learn more about various HR positions through the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) or other sites such as Human Resources Education. We’ll give you examples of a tactical HR position and a strategic HR position typical in small to medium-sized businesses.

Human Resources Specialist (Tactical)

A Human Resources Specialist typically has a bachelor’s degree and is early in their HR career. They are a generalist more focused on tactical HR tasks rather than strategic HR tasks.


  • Recruiting: Coordinate job postings, process resumes, and applications, screen job candidates, perform background checks and conduct initial interviews
  • Records: Prepare and update employment records related to hiring, compliance, promotions, and terminations
  • Onboarding: Conduct new employee orientation by explaining employment policies, procedures, job duties, schedules, and benefits
  • Discipline and complaints: Address work complaints and harassment allegations, tracks employee discipline

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the median pay for an HR Specialist in 2018 was $60,880 or $29.27/hour.

Head of People (Strategic)

You can count on a strategic HR hire to handle the overall administration, coordination, and evaluation of your HR plans, programs, and goals. This person typically has five or more years’ experience in HR and a bachelor’s degree. The strategic HR hire is your organization’s link between employees and your leadership team.


  • Management: Develop and administer your HR records, plans, procedures, programs, and budget and manage other HR staff or personnel tasked with HR duties
  • Programs: Develop and manage compensation program, personnel policies and procedures, employee handbook, employee evaluation process and benefits, and wellness programs
  • Recruiting: Develop staffing plan; create and revise job descriptions and employment ads; oversee all recruitment; develop interview process; and conduct new employee orientation
  • Retention: Develop employee recognition program and professional development plans; manage employee relations counseling, and conduct exit interviews
  • Planning: Develop corporate culture with the leadership team and recommend new policies, programs, and procedures based on long-term goals and current HR best practices

Although the paygrade for this position will vary greatly commensurate of the candidate’s experience level, the salary for an HR Manager can be used as a point of comparison. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the median pay for an HR Manager in 2018 was $113,300 or $54.47/hour.

You may save on salary costs initially by hiring a less experienced HR team member, but someone who has been keeping up on HR trends and technology may save you money in the long run. Rather than focus on hiring when employee count reaches a specific number, think about who’s handing HR now and whether that time could be put to better use generating revenue or innovating new products.

HR Outsourcing & Technology

Now that you have a better idea of what an HR team member can do for you and what they’ll cost, you may be thinking hiring another full-time person just doesn’t make sense at this time. Utilizing HR technology and outsourcing HR tasks may be a more cost-effective solution for your business.

Outsourcing can help you to adapt to your changing HR needs as your business grows. Working with an HR partners also ensures your HR technology will meet the expectations of today’s tech-savvy millennial workforce. Your outsourced HR partner will track and provide data to help you better manage all aspects of HR as you grow your business and your team.

HR Technology

Launchways offers the top HR technology and can advise and customize based on your business needs. Launchways HR technology solutions ensure your business can effectively handle tactical HR duties such as:

  • Payroll
  • Compliance
  • Recruiting and application portal
  • Time scheduling and tracking
  • Online benefits portal
  • Online performance reviews

Launchways offers fully-outsourced solutions for payroll, benefits administration, and compliance. Working with the Launchways team ensures all these important aspects of your business are handled correctly, while freeing up the time of your leadership team for more important duties.

Key takeaways

When your organization is experiencing growing pains – and ideally before you run into compliance and other legal issues – it’s time to add to your HR capabilities. HR duties are many and varied, from time-consuming tactical administrative tasks to strategic HR planning to help your organization be more attractive to top talent.

In many cases, outsourced HR help can be the most cost-effective option for growing businesses. Learn more about Launchways’ custom HR solutions.