5 Must-Follow Tips for Successful Open Enrollment Communication

When open enrollment arrives each year, you need to be prepared. Choosing benefits is often stressful for employees. They need enough information and time to determine which benefits best meet their needs. Therefore, you need to begin preparing well in advance. Here are five must-follow tips to successful open enrollment communication.

Review Last Year’s Results

Review your previous year’s open enrollment results to determine areas that were successful and areas that needed improvement. You’ll face similar challenges this year, and you want to learn from previous mistakes. Meet with key team members to review what worked and didn’t work last year. Ensure each member leaves with action items and deadlines. Also, define your open enrollment objectives and how you will measure success. Use that information to decide who your audiences are and what your overall and targeted messages will be. Then, determine what media you’ll use, what your timeline is and what barriers you may face in achieving your goals.

Set Goals

Determine hard goals, such as the number of new enrollees you’d like to see in your company retirement plan. Also, determine one to three soft goals to make the enrollment process easier and more understandable. For example, ask how well an employee feels they understand your company’s benefits, how aware of the benefit process they are and how they would rate the effort needed to sign up for benefits.

Use Data Analytics

Have year-over-year data showing how benefits are being used to determine what training materials may help employees take better advantage of underused or under-valued choices. Keep track of and compare enrollment data in a manner that gives useful insight into how employees choose their benefits, which can show where additional education is needed during open enrollment.

Highlight Key Information

Because your employees are busy, highlight key information in all open enrollment communication. When you send employees printed material or an email, ensure the information can be read in 30 seconds, the amount of time an employee will devote to looking at the material. Use bold graphics and clear, concise language to increase engagement and comprehension of the information.

Emphasize a Call to Action

Stress a call to action at the end of each communication. Your employees must know what they need to do after reading the information to make it most effective.

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Which Questions Must You Ask a Financial Recruiter in a Phone Call?

As a skilled accounting or finance professional, you’re most likely receiving phone calls from recruiters. Whether you’re looking to change positions or keep the role you have, you need to be prepared to talk with recruiters. Even if you don’t want their services now, you may change your mind in the future. Here are four questions you should ask when a recruiter calls.

What Are the Three Main Qualifications the Company Is Looking For?

Determine whether you’re qualified for the role so you can decide whether to continue the conversation. Although the recruiter most likely has a list of desired skills and experience, candidates typically need to possess only three or four main ones. If you lack in any of those areas, let the recruiter know. Also, if you’re looking for a different position, mention what type of work you’d like and your qualifications. The recruiter may be able to discuss a more suitable opportunity with you.

What Is the Job Description?

You need to ensure the role fits your interests and adds to your skill set. Also, make sure you can fulfill the job responsibilities each day and have room for advancement within the organization.

Are You Working Exclusively With This Employer?

Uncover how far the recruiter is in their search and how likely you may be to get the position. If the recruiter is the only one asked to fill the role, you have a greater chance of having your resume reviewed by the hiring manager. However, if the recruiter shares the placement with others, the odds of having your resume seen are reduced. As a result, you’ll need to invest more time following up with the recruiter to determine where you’re at in the process. Also, the hiring process may take longer because there are more resumes to review and candidates to interview.

Why Is the Job Available?

The previous employee may have been promoted, or the position may have high turnover. Find out how long the position has been vacant. If it hasn’t been long, or you’re the first candidate to interview, you may have to wait a while as the hiring manager meets with other candidates. If the role has been vacant a while, determine what didn’t work with the candidates who interviewed. You’ll know whether you have a better chance of being offered the role. In addition, find out the longevity of the rest of the team. Determine approximately how long each member remains in their role and advances in or leaves the organization. You’ll gain an idea of what path you may take with the company.

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Considering Hiring a New Grad? Here’s a Guide to Making It Work

Hiring new grads can be beneficial for your company. Recent grads can use their knowledge-based foundation and transferrable skills to help move your organization forward. Follow these guidelines to successfully hire new grads.

Know How to Connect

Aside from recruiting at college career fairs, there are many ways to connect with new grads. Use your company website, social media and job boards to post openings and engage with followers. Also, have an employee referral program in place to find new talent as they enter the workforce. Ask for referrals from clients, vendors, consultants and other business partners to increase your candidate pool.

Market Your Company

Create engaging posts, photos and videos to provide information on your company mission and values, culture, available entry-level opportunities and potential for advancement. Emphasize that your interview process involves working with candidates to determine which position may be the best fit for them. In addition, mention the educational backgrounds you’re looking for without being too narrow in your search.

Help Visualize Employment

Introduce them to employees with similar backgrounds and experiences. Show candidates the area they’ll be working in if they’re offered a position. Discuss what will be expected of candidates daily.

Emphasize Soft Skills

Critical thinking, time management, leadership and strong communication skills are essential traits for any position. You can ask candidates to provide an example of how they successfully applied soft skills in a previous job, volunteer role, sports team or other extracurricular activities. After hiring candidates, you can provide direction on successfully applying soft skills to their new roles.

Welcome New Grads

Ensure each new grad has at least eight to 12 weeks of departmental or mentor-based training. You may want to assign both an experienced mentor and a recent college grad with two years’ experience to assist during the training process. Also, make sure your new grads begin contributing to the organization within weeks of their start date so they feel like valued members of your team. Utilize new grads’ technology skills to teach managers and coworkers how to use new software. Encourage new grads to provide input for company operations to help with innovation.

Provide Ongoing Constructive Feedback

Give new grads real-time constructive feedback to improve their performance. Praise proper behaviors while suggesting steps to improve in areas that need work. Address issues as they occur to improve current and future outcomes.

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Is an MBA Worth the Cost for Your Career?

Earning a master’s in business administration (MBA) may provide you the knowledge and skills needed to enhance your career opportunities and increase your compensation and promotions. However, due to the substantial time and expense involved, earning an MBA may not be in your best interest. Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether an MBA may be worth the cost for your career.

Consider Your Career Path

An MBA may be worth the time, effort and expense if you plan to work in a business-related field, in management or as a company founder. Some companies require MBAs for certain positions because of the skills students learn in data analysis, leadership, collaboration and working with different cultures. However, you typically need to earn your MBA from a top-tier business school for your degree to be valued by an employer. Also, earning an MBA doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be hired for a job. If you’re already working in a leadership or executive position, it’s typically because you have the knowledge, skills, experience and personality to succeed. Also, many startups won’t hire candidates with an MBA because the program teaches students to look at prior data and patterns to predict future outcomes, whereas entrepreneurs prefer innovative employees who adapt to emerging markets and international advising. Furthermore, because the costs involved in earning an MBA continue increasing at a greater rate than salaries are, the return on investment of an MBA has been decreasing.

Determine When to Pursue Your MBA

If you decide to earn your MBA right away, you may want to enroll in a full-time program. However, as a full-time student, you most likely won’t have time to work during the two to three years you spend in school. Because many top schools look for relevant work experience as a requirement for admission, you may not be admitted to a school that will enhance your employment options. Also, because many employers want work experience along with an MBA, you may not immediately benefit from your advanced studies.

Decide on an MBA Program 

There are two types of MBA programs you can choose from. If you decide to gain work experience first and later enroll as a part-time student, you can work full time and enroll in either an MBA or executive MBA (EMBA) course. Students earning an MBA are typically 24-35 years of age and not yet in leadership or executive roles. Students earning an EMBA are typically 32-42 years of age and have worked in leadership or executive roles. Most students in either program take classes in the evening or on weekends and may have their employer pay for their program.

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What Does Your Financial Talent Brand Say About You?

Your talent brand consists of what your employees think, feel and share about working for your company. Because your talent brand significantly impacts your recruitment results, you need to ensure your talent brand portrays the appropriate messages about working for your organization. As a financial services company, here are four benefits of determining what your financial talent brand says about you.

Control Company Reputation

Manage your talent brand by controlling your company’s reputation as much as possible. Monitor what’s being said about your organization on Glassdoor, CareerBliss and other review sites. Set up alerts so you can stay on top of newly posted reviews. In addition, watch your ratings on salary and advancement to see if they need attention. Furthermore, encourage happy employees to share their experiences. Plus, respond to negative reviews with positive comments.

Engage Passive Candidates

Because these highly skilled workers comprise the majority of the workforce and enjoy maximizing company contributions, you need to position your company as a rewarding place to work. Since candidates use Glassdoor to learn more about roles, salaries, culture and reviews, you need to actively add photos, videos, summaries and other branding tools to portray a positive image, monitor what’s being said about your company and positively respond to negative reviews. You can also use Google Analytics to attract passive candidates. Ensure you monitor what your most effective inbound recruiting channels are, such as social media, email or organic searches; which pages candidates enter on and leave from; how much time is spent on a page and on your entire site; and what your bounce rate is to determine ways you can improve.

Generate Employee Referrals

What employees say about their company has significantly more impact on job candidates than what employers say about working for their company.  Happy employees can tell their families, friends and colleagues about what makes your company great; share your latest company news, reports and open roles; and encourage others to work for you. Also, because top performers typically associate with other top performers, you have an excellent candidate pool to draw from. Furthermore, you’ll gain additional insight into candidates’ background and reasons why they’re an excellent fit for a position. Referrals typically report greater job satisfaction and remain loyal to your company longer because they received detailed information about the role and your organization before being hired.

Retain Talent

Ensure the financial increases, benefits, perks and advancement opportunities guaranteed during recruitment are continually fulfilled. Also, encourage employee input in all areas, including how to more effectively manage their department, streamline business operations and move the company forward.

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Does the Job Search Now Include Texting and Snapchat?

Today’s job search is unlike any other. Candidates now use Snapchat and texting to find their new role. Therefore, it’s important you understand the appropriate use of these methods to maximize your results. Follow these guidelines for using Snapchat and texting in your job search.

Build Your Snapchat Stream

Determine which companies you want to work for and add them to your Snapchat stream. Visit Snapchat’s Discover section to choose which companies you want to follow. You can study their articles, videos and photos to learn more about the organization to see whether you’re a good cultural fit. You can also initiate or join conversations with employees about what it’s like to work for the company and why you’d be an excellent addition to the team.

Find Potential Employers

Watch the content they’re posting and how they engage with their followers. In your cover letter and interview, incorporate some examples of what you saw on Snapchat to show you’re experienced with social media and are impressed with how the company presents its products/services.

Provide Information on Your Background

Balance fun and professionalism in your Snapchat account by posting both playful and professional content. Showcase the skills and experience you want employers to see so they consider letting you join their team. Also, post pictures on Snapchat to go along with emailing your cover letter and resume to the company.

View Job Postings and Events

Employers may post a photo of a future employee’s office or a short video from the manager encouraging candidates to apply for an opening. Companies may offer recruitment events to let you interact with employees, gain further insight into the organization and apply for positions.

Be Professional When Texting Recruiters

Although texting is typically casual, keep it formal when communicating with a recruiter. Avoid texting a recruiter to initiate contact or follow up after an interview. A phone call or email is more appropriate. Ask the recruiter if they want to be texted. Some prefer other forms of communication. Spell out words rather than using abbreviations or acronyms. Furthermore, avoid using emoticons as they’re inappropriate for professional communication. Plus, ensure your text signature at the bottom of each message is appropriate for work.

Appropriately Respond to Recruiters’ Texts

Reply to text messages as soon as possible to move forward with the hiring process. Provide all information the recruiter requests so they can continue placing you with candidates. In addition, check your spelling and grammar to ensure they’re error-free.

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Using Flexible Financial Talent in a Gig Economy

Due to changing business strategies, the gig economy is playing a more substantial role in how companies find top talent. As a result, organizations have to adapt to utilizing an evolving workforce to reach company objectives. Here are some ways your company may benefit from using flexible talent in a gig economy.

What a Gig Economy Is

A gig economy includes workers who take on freelance projects to either supplement their income or replace their need for a full-time job. Workers come from varied backgrounds, from service workers to top executives. Baby boomers who can’t or don’t want to completely retire; Gen Xers who want flexibility to pursue personal interests like raising children or caring for aging parents; and millennials seeking an independent work style are attracted to a gig economy. Due to advances in technology, work can be completed remotely at any time.

Gig Economy Benefits for Companies

Because your labor costs shift from fixed to variable, you may be able to save money. Also, you can contract with gig workers who possess niche skills you may need for a set time but not on an ongoing basis. Since gig workers don’t receive a salary or benefits, you can access talent you may be unable to afford on a full-time basis. Furthermore, you can assess a gig worker’s skill and cultural fit before deciding whether to hire them full time, if needed. Plus, gig workers begin quickly contributing to your organization because they don’t need much training, if any. As a result, gig workers increase your company’s productivity, allowing you to take on additional projects and improve your bottom line.

Accessing the Gig Economy

You can contact local or global intermediary organizations that make it easier to find, vet and contract with gig workers. You can also contact retirees and former employees who fit well with company culture, understand your organization’s processes, are highly productive and left for greater flexibility. Former employees may be interested in contracting with you as gig workers.

Managing Gig Workers

There are many considerations to make before deciding whether to hire gig workers. You should establish similar financial controls for both employees and gig workers to effectively measure how they contribute to your bottom line. Work with your legal department to create a plan for ensuring compliance while contracting with gig workers. In addition, manage your employees and gig workers in a similar manner, such as communicating clear objectives, providing purposeful work, showing respect and giving recognition for achievements. Create a plan for maintaining company culture among gig workers, such as viewing them as partners rather than vendors.

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Will Your Financial Career Benefit From One of These Certifications?

Working in finance, you’re probably familiar with certifications that may help advance your career. However, you may not have researched enough to determine which certifications may be most advantageous for you. Learn more information about four certifications that may benefit your financial career.

Certified Internal Auditor

Becoming a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) demonstrates competence in areas such as information technology and risk and control. Certification is beneficial for audit staff, risk management staff, audit managers or chief audit executives. To earn your CIA certification, you need a bachelor’s degree and two years of internal audit experience, or a master’s degree and one year of experience. You have six and one-half hours to pass three levels of exams and may be certified within 12 to 18 months. Your annual number of required continuing professional education (CPE) credits depends on your work status.

Chartered Financial Analyst

Becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) shows you’re highly knowledgeable and competent working with principles of portfolio management, investment analysis and economics. The certification is typically required for security analysts or asset managers and may be beneficial for fund managers, equity analysts, hedge fund managers or senior finance managers. To earn your certification, you need a bachelor’s degree, four years’ relevant experience in areas such as trading, economics or corporate finance, and membership in the CFA Institute. Expect to spend at least 300 hours preparing for each of the three exam levels. You have 18 hours to pass the levels of exams in succession. Although you may become certified within 18 months, most candidates take more than two years. You’re required to annually complete 20 hours of CPE credits, including two hours of standards, regulatory and ethics education.

Certified Management Accountant

Becoming a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) verifies your proficiency in financial analysis, budgeting, strategic assessments and other skills. If you earn your CPA license, you may want to earn your CMA certification as well, since the exam topics are very similar. The CMA is recommended if you’re an accountant in the corporate sector, especially in large, multinational companies. To earn the certification, you need a bachelor’s degree and two consecutive years in financial management or management accounting. You have eight hours to complete two levels of exams and three years to complete the program. You may be certified within one to two years and need to annually complete 30 hours of CPE credits.

Certified Information Systems Auditor

Becoming a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) proves your proficiency in information systems control, security and auditing. Certification is beneficial for information systems auditors and control or security professionals desiring worldwide recognition. You have four hours to pass the 150-question exam. You may be certified when you have five years’ experience in professional information systems auditing, control or security. You also need to annually complete CPE hours and pay maintenance fees.

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What Can You Do to Overcome the Skills Gap in Tax Employees?

According to the 2016 American Staffing Association’s Skills Gap Index, one of the hardest positions to fill is that of a tax preparer. With baby boomers retiring and millennials not stepping into tax preparation roles, it’s increasingly challenging finding workers to fill those positions. Fortunately, there are steps companies can take to find qualified candidates. Here are three ways you can overcome the skills gap in tax employees.

Change Position Duties

Because these workers have specialized skills, let them focus more on completing tasks only they can perform and assigning additional responsibilities to other accountants. When tax preparers have more time to focus on areas they excel in, they’re more likely to want to work for your company, stay engaged in their tasks, produce higher quality output and remain with your organization longer.

Train Candidates

Focus more on attitude and aptitude than on experience when searching for candidates. This is especially important when considering recent graduates with little job experience. They’ll be eager to add to their skill sets, quick to adapt and more likely to work for less pay in exchange for on-the-job training. You may also cross-train or promote employees within your organization who express an interest in becoming tax preparers. Because your staff members already know their co-workers and have inside knowledge of your company, more time would be focused on training than on acclimating to your workplace. Your employees would be more productive in a shorter amount of time and begin benefitting your organization sooner.

Provide Increased Income

Research what the current salary range is in your area, then offer a bit more than average. Consider what skills and experience each candidate has to offer, how many employees you have to pay and what laws affect their income before deciding on final numbers. In addition, think about future bonuses and raises you may have to offer to stay competitive. Furthermore, consider the cost of benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans with company match and PTO. Think about perks such as a flexible schedule, working remotely and participating in an employee wellness program. All of these factors will affect how competitive your compensation package is.

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The Most Important Part of Your Job Negotiation

Job negotiations take much time and effort. You have to be prepared to ask for what you want and know what you won’t settle for. Because the process can be daunting, it’s important you have a plan in place before your interview. Here are four parts of your job negotiation you’ll want to focus on.

Research

Uncover all you can about the company and its typical salaries and benefits options for your department and role. Find facts and statistics you can use in your favor to build a case for getting what you want. Have set goals for receiving what you desire. Plan ways in which you may fill your needs and how you may respond to a counteroffer. Ensure you know which areas you’re set on and which are flexible. Showing you performed solid research increases your chances of receiving a more attractive offer.

Salary  

Go online to research the current range for your position in both your industry and geographic area. Talk with local recruiters to see what numbers they give you. When you’re ready to negotiate, start with the top number in your salary range. The interviewer will probably negotiate you down, so leave plenty of room to find an agreeable number. Justify your request by pointing out specific ways you increased revenue or decreased expenses for previous employers and how you may do the same for your new employer. Ensure you know what salary is too low to fit your needs. If that amount becomes the final offer, be willing to walk away.

Benefits

If you agree to a lower salary, try making up for the value with benefits and perks. For example, you may obtain health insurance, gain a matching contribution for your retirement plan or secure a signing bonus. You might be able to gain additional vacation days, have a flexible schedule, or work remotely. Perhaps you’ll obtain opportunities for growth and promotion, support for ongoing education or reimbursement for tuition.

Navigation

Because you have more power when the interviewer sees where you’re coming from, ensure you do all you can to help them understand your position. For example, give concrete reasons why you’re worth the salary you’re requesting, including quantifiable ways you helped prior employers and can do the same for your new employer. Show you sincerely want to work for the organization and that it’s worth the extra effort negotiating with you. Point out the options you have as leverage and under which conditions you’d be willing to leave those options and accept an offer. Understand the interviewer’s concerns, such as a salary cap, so you can agree on an offer that suits everyone’s interests.

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