Home » blog

Category: blog

Middle Managers Series: What they want

Last month we began a new monthly series delving into the MIDDLE MANAGER. The challenges faced by middle managers highlighted in last month’s blog reflect the evolving nature of work in today’s dynamic business environment. Certainly, understanding what managers want is crucial when addressing the issues they face in today’s fast-paced business environment.

This month we focus on some key managers’ desires and potential solutions. Middle managers want autonomy, recognition, learning opportunities, and experiences.

Middle managers crave autonomy in their decision-making processes. Trust managers to make decisions within their areas of responsibility. Encourage a culture of experimentation and learning from failures, allowing managers to innovate without fear of severe repercussions.

Empowering them to take responsibility for their teams and projects enhances their sense of ownership and accountability. Trust their judgment and give them the freedom to experiment and innovate.

In addition to increasing managers’ autonomy, consider flattening organizational hierarchies. Explore flatter organizational structures that promote collaboration and agility. Encourage collaborative decision-making processes where input from various levels of the organization is valued. Middle managers should feel empowered to contribute ideas and suggestions, fostering a culture of innovation.

Managers appreciate recognition for their efforts and achievements. Implementing performance management systems, incentive programs, and regular feedback mechanisms can boost morale and motivation. Rethink transparent performance evaluation methods to incorporate soft skills and contributions to team dynamics, recognizing both individual and team achievements. Encourage a more holistic approach that recognizes the diverse talents and qualities managers bring to their roles. Establish regular feedback mechanisms, including performance evaluations and one-on-one meetings, to provide constructive feedback and recognize managers’ achievements. Encouraging open communication helps in addressing concerns and fostering a positive work environment.

Bonuses, raises, and promotions are essential for acknowledging managers’ dedication and hard work. Ensure managers are compensated fairly with competitive salaries, bonuses, and opportunities for promotions. Regular salary reviews and transparent communication about compensation policies are essential. Fair and competitive financial incentives are vital for retaining top managerial talent. Establish performance recognition programs that acknowledge managers for their achievements. This could include regular awards, public acknowledgments, or peer nominations, creating a positive work environment. Recognition programs, career growth opportunities, and meaningful incentives can boost morale and motivation. 

Learning opportunities are highly valued. Providing access to training programs, workshops, and skill development courses keeps managers updated with industry trends and enhances their leadership capabilities. Invest in training programs to enhance managerial skills, focusing on areas such as emotional intelligence, effective communication, conflict resolution, and decision-making skills. Equipping them with these skills enhances their ability to manage teams efficiently.

Work with managers to create individual development plans tailored to their career goals. Then provide mentorship and coaching to help them progress in their careers within the organization. Mentorship programs where experienced senior leaders guide middle managers and peer support networks are valuable, providing a platform for sharing experiences and learning from one another.

Practical experiences contribute significantly to managers’ growth. Assigning challenging projects, cross-functional collaborations, and leadership roles in diverse initiatives provide valuable hands-on learning experiences. Promote a culture of continuous learning and professional development. Provide access to online courses, workshops, and seminars that enhance managerial skills and keep managers updated with industry best practices.

Cross-functional experiences and innovative learning initiatives are vital practical experiences for middle managers. Encourage managers to participate in cross-functional projects and collaborate with teams from different departments. These experiences broaden their skill set and perspective, enhancing their problem-solving abilities. Explore innovative learning initiatives such as job rotations, mentorship programs, and experiential workshops. These initiatives provide managers with diverse experiences and skill development opportunities.

In summary, addressing the challenges faced by middle managers requires a multifaceted approach that combines autonomy, recognition, learning opportunities, and experiences. By implementing these solutions, organizations can create a supportive and empowering environment for middle managers. When you empower middle managers and provide them with the necessary support, organizations can leverage their potential as catalysts for positive change, leading to higher productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall organizational success.

Stay tuned for How to Explain HR to Managers next month…

Contact us for more information about Manager trainings we offer.

Employers’ Student Loan Support

The resumption of student loan payments in the United States after a three-year pause has prompted a response from employers. In an effort to attract and retain workers, many employers are now offering student loan repayment support. This response reflects a growing awareness of the burden of student loan debt on employees and a proactive approach by employers to address this issue. Providing such support not only helps employees manage their financial obligations but also serves as a competitive advantage in the labor market, where attracting and retaining skilled workers is a significant challenge for many businesses. Have you considered offering such support? 

The statistics from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) indicate a significant upward trend in employers offering student loan repayment support. The increase from 17% in 2021 to 34% in the current year suggests a growing recognition among employers of the importance of this benefit.

Experts from the EBRI underscore the broader economic context in which this trend is occurring. Concerns about rising inflation, the threat of a recession, and ongoing labor challenges are encouraging employers to consider innovative ways to attract and retain talent. Student loan repayment support has emerged as one such strategy, enabling companies to enhance their employee benefits packages and address the financial concerns of their workforce.

Despite the threat of a recession, the increase of support from previous years indicates a positive shift in how employers are approaching the issue of student loan debt among their employees. This trend not only reflects a response to immediate economic challenges but also a recognition of the long-term impact such benefits can have on workforce stability and job satisfaction. Employers are increasingly recognizing the burden of student loan debt on their employees, and they are taking various measures to provide support as student loan payments resume. 

One option for support you can provide is to offer student loan repayment assistance programs including direct cash subsidies and debt counseling and consolidation. Those providing direct cash subsidies help employees pay off their student loans. Be warned that this choice comes with a high cost and potential for resentment among employees without significant student debt. 

Instead you could provide strategies to better oversea their loans. Giving them resources for debt counseling and consolidation services helps employees manage their loans more effectively. Another way to support your employees is through collaboration with lenders. You can work with lenders to refinance employees’ student loans at lower interest rates, reducing the overall financial burden. Specifically in government and nonprofit sectors, employers are offering assistance with federal student loan forgiveness program applications, easing the process for eligible employees.

To attract fresh talent, you might assess offering financial assistance choices for new hires. You can give new hires the option to choose between a signing bonus or a significant student loan repayment amount, allowing employees to decide which option suits their needs best.

A different mechanism to assist your workers is through innovative benefit packages. Consider exploring alternative benefits such as contributions to children’s college funds, providing valuable financial support for employees’ families. Also examine the merit of matching employee payments toward their student loans with contributions to their 401(k) plans under the Secure Act 2.0, encouraging employees to both pay off their debts and save for retirement simultaneously. 

Employers are increasingly recognizing the importance of student loan repayment support in attracting and retaining talent. While various options are being explored, the landscape is evolving, with potential future changes influenced by economic factors and legislative developments like the Secure Act 2.0. The introduction of the Secure Act 2.0, designed to incentivize retirement savings while addressing student loan debt, represents a significant step forward in employer-based student loan repayment support. The Act allows employers to match employee payments toward student loans with contributions to their 401(k) plans. While this approach has gained traction, there are uncertainties about its impact, particularly in the face of economic challenges like a potential recession.

The EBRI report suggests that more employers are adopting the 401(k) student loan match approach. Currently, 42% of employers offer this benefit, and an additional 23% are expected to do so in the coming years, indicating a growing trend in employer support for student loan repayment.

The three biggest concerns regarding the Secure Act 2.0 that you should consider before application are administrative challenges, the potential impact on contributions, and economic factors. While the Secure Act 2.0 aims to address administrative hurdles, there may still be challenges in implementing and managing these programs effectively. There is a concern that employees might opt for minimum student loan payments, neglecting contributions to their 401(k) accounts. This could affect their long-term financial security, especially in retirement. Economic uncertainties, including the possibility of a recession, could impact employer decisions regarding student loan repayment support. In times of economic downturn, some employers might reevaluate these benefits, potentially reducing or eliminating them to manage costs.

In essence, while the Secure Act 2.0 offers a promising solution to address both student loan debt and retirement savings, its effectiveness will depend on how well employers implement and employees engage with these programs. Economic factors will continue to play a significant role in shaping employer decisions, highlighting the delicate balance between offering valuable benefits and managing costs, especially during periods of economic uncertainty. Employers may need to carefully consider the long-term impact of these decisions on their workforce’s financial well-being and overall job satisfaction.

Middle Mangers Series: Recognizing Middle Managers’ Concerns

We are starting a new monthly series delving into the MIDDLE MANAGER. First up, let’s explore the top concerns that have the most negative effect on a middle manager’s experience, which may vary based on individuals and work environments. These challenges stem from various sources, including top-down directives, organizational bureaucracy, outdated structures, and lack of effective communication. 

Here’s a breakdown of the most common concerns:

  1. Lack of Trust and Autonomy:

Middle managers desire increased autonomy and trust from top management. Lack of decision-making authority can make it difficult for managers to lead effectively. Middle managers often spend a significant amount of their time on administrative tasks and bureaucratic processes, which tend to be redundant or unnecessary. When they are burdened with excessive administrative tasks and micromanagement, they feel undervalued and constrained in their ability to make meaningful contributions and strategic decisions, hindering their effectiveness in leading the team and achieving organizational goals efficiently. 

  1. Team dynamics:

Managing underperforming employees can be challenging and time-consuming, affecting team productivity and the cohesion of the team. 

Negative attitudes within the team can create a hostile work environment, disrupt teamwork, and hinder the manager’s efforts to maintain a positive and productive atmosphere. 

Negative senior leaders can create a toxic work environment, diminish employee morale, and reduce the manager’s ability to lead effectively. 

Therefore, underperforming team members and negative employees and senior leaders can cause the departure of your valuable employees. Losing valuable employees due to unmet needs can disrupt team dynamics and affect overall productivity. Also their quitting creates additional workload for managers who must handle the gaps left by departed employees.

  1. Work-life balance: 

Personal life demands that compete with work responsibilities can also be difficult for managers, impacting their overall well-being and work-life balance. Excessive workload, long hours, and unrealistic expectations can lead to burnout, stress, and a decline in the overall well-being of managers.

  1. Communication Gap:

Middle managers often find themselves caught between the directives from top leadership and the need to motivate and guide their teams. The lack of clear communication and understanding between top management and middle managers creates confusion and inefficiencies.


Unnecessary directives, unreasonable directives, and those the middle manager disagrees with put immense pressure on middle managers. This leads to frustration for managers and hinders their ability to focus on strategic tasks. Conflicting directives can create confusion and make it challenging for managers to align their team with the organization’s goals. Ultimately, frustrations with directives can make it difficult to efficiently meet expectations and maintain team motivation.


Here are other impactful concerns for middle managers:

Outdated Structures:

Many companies have not adapted their organizational structures to keep pace with technological advancements. Outdated structures limit the effectiveness of middle managers and hinder their ability to lead in a rapidly changing business landscape. Resistance to change and reluctance to invest in restructuring can perpetuate the existing problems.

Importance of Feedback and Solutions:

Executives need to actively seek feedback from middle managers and involve them in decision-making processes. Middle managers are uniquely positioned to offer insights and solutions to the challenges they face, making their input invaluable for creating effective strategies for improvement.

Negative Stereotypes:

Popular culture and some executives perpetuate negative stereotypes about middle managers, undermining their confidence and effectiveness. This perception can lead to middle managers being undervalued and potentially removed from their positions.


Each of these concerns highlights specific challenges that managers may face within their organizations. Addressing these concerns through supportive organizational policies, effective leadership training, and fostering a positive workplace culture can significantly improve a manager’s experience, maintain a positive work environment, and enhance their ability to lead effectively.

How can we help our dislocated workers?

Certainly, helping dislocated workers is a crucial endeavor. First, we need to better understand what a dislocated worker is. Commonly, you are considered a dislocated worker if you have been laid off from your job and are receiving unemployment benefits because of being laid off or no longer working due to factors beyond your control. 


Dislocated workers face challenges in finding new employment. This situation is becoming more common, necessitating effective support systems. Imagine losing the position you have held for many years and you are then unable to find a new position that meets your job qualifications. 


Fortunately, there are programs available to assist in the retraining and placement of many of these employees. The largest and one of the most helpful programs is FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). It provides aid in the form of grants, loans and work study programs. FAFSA is available by filling out a simple application. Some of the programs also provide grants for hiring companies. 


Individual states may offer programs that assist employers with costs while training a dislocated worker to learn the required skills of their new position. WIOA’s Dislocated Worker program supports job seekers in career searches, overcoming employment barriers, and gaining necessary skills. Employment Counselor Specialists offer case management, assessments, and access to On-the-Job Training or Individual Training Accounts for skill development.


When individuals become dislocated workers because of job loss, mass layoffs, global trade dynamics, or transitions in economic sectors, the WIOA Dislocated Worker program provides services to assist them in re-entering the workforce. Services are provided by Employment Counselor Specialists across your state. The services include Basic Career Services, Individualized Career Services, Support Services, and Training Services. 


Examples of qualifications include:

  • 18+ Years old
  • US citizen or be eligible to work in the US
  • Registered with the Selective Service
  • Been terminated or laid off, and eligible to receive or have exhausted unemployment compensation
  • Unlikely to return to previous industry or occupation


If program eligibility requirements are met, participants will receive case management services and initial, comprehensive, and ongoing assessments. Eligible participants may also have access to On-the-Job Training or an Individual Training Account to gain or update skills to compete in the job market.


In these challenging times, uniting efforts through programs like FAFSA and WIOA, facilitated by our organization, HR Synergy, is pivotal. By offering education, training, and employment opportunities, we can empower dislocated workers to rebuild their careers and lives, creating a positive impact on individuals and communities alike.


If you need assistance or want to coordinate available resources in your state, reach out to us at HR Synergy. Our expertise can bridge the gap between dislocated workers and the support programs, potentially transforming lives by enabling access to previously unattainable job opportunities.

Are You Recruiting Ready?

Companies are investing more on the front-end starting with targeted recruitment strategies to attract and retain strong hires, since turnover is costly. 

The key company features that job candidates are looking for today include work-life balance appreciated, flexibility, and supportive environment. HR Synergy can help optimize touch-points and streamline processes within the hiring process.

Students are heading back to campus. Is your company ready for recruiting season?

A recent study from Bersin by Deloitte revealed that merely sharing current opportunities is not enough to get your brand recognized. Successful campus recruiting hinges on continuous campus appearances to allow organic personal networking to occur. 52% of 500 18-24 year old college students surveyed by Google reported personal networking as the best way to land a job in their field over career fairs, digital job boards, and career services.

To capitalize on current students’ interest in personal networking, boost your organization’s relationships with related campus groups and key faculty, not just career services. Interacting with students during club activities relevant to your business can help you find inherently motivated employees who connect with your mission. A Recruiting Benchmarks Survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers observed over 82% of companies now utilize campus clubs for recruitment.

Building relationships with faculty can give you insight into prospective employees and create opportunities to recruit students more personally. Consider campus sponsorships and affiliate programs tangentially related to your organization to build personal connections with targeted groups of students and give your brand campus exposure. 

We can assist you as you develop and adjust your recruiting strategy and help you attract talented graduates. Reach out today to learn about our Full-Service Recruiting.

In addition to being strategic with where you interact with students, you should also be deliberate with the representatives from your organization that you send for recruitment. Consider sending a hiring manager or others that employees most likely will interact regularly with once hired. Also consider sending a representative with a connection to the school or club event itself.

Don’t forget to account for what happens after the hire from communication prior to start date to onboarding. More than 20% of new hires leave within one year and attribute their departure to poor onboarding. We at HR Synergy can aid your business in developing quality onboarding strategies that give clear understanding of their role, performance expectations, company culture, and equip new hires with resources needed to thrive in your organization.

Contact us for more information about how we can help you navigate recruitment and HR related onboarding strategies.

How Can HR Support Parents this Back-to-School Season?

Many employers are recognizing the challenges that working parents face during the back-to-school season and are taking proactive steps to support them. Here are some key tactics that HR departments are implementing to help working parents achieve better work-life balance during this busy period:

Provide Flexible Schedules: Allowing working parents to have more flexibility in their work schedules can greatly alleviate the stress of the back-to-school transition. This could involve coming in later or leaving earlier, as well as making up the time outside of regular working hours. Flexible schedules enable parents to manage school drop-offs and pickups without feeling rushed.


Offer Remote Work: Providing the option for parents to work remotely, either for part of the day or on certain days, can significantly reduce commuting time and allow parents to be more present for their children’s school-related activities. Remote work can also contribute to a more relaxed and productive work environment.


Assist with Spending: The financial burden of back-to-school expenses can be significant for parents. Some employers are offering benefits or programs to help alleviate these costs. Examples include providing discounts at partner stores, offering flexible spending accounts for school-related expenses, or even providing a child care stipend for families in need.


Open Communication: Regular and transparent communication is key. Encourage employees to use communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to keep colleagues informed about their availability when their schedules change. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page and allows for better coordination.


Ask Employees for Input: Employers should engage with their working parents to understand their specific needs and challenges. Seeking input and feedback from employees allows HR to tailor their support initiatives more effectively.


Emphasize Work-Life Balance: Recognize that employees, especially working parents, have lives outside of work. Encourage a culture that values work-life balance and respects employees’ personal commitments.


Supportive Culture: Creating a culture of empathy and support can have a positive impact on employee morale and retention. When employees feel that their employer understands and cares about their challenges, they are more likely to be engaged and loyal.


Long-Term Perspective: Remember that the need for work-life balance doesn’t end with the back-to-school season. Supporting working parents throughout the year, such as allowing them to attend school events during business hours, can have a lasting positive impact.


By implementing these strategies, employers can create a more supportive and accommodating work environment for working parents during the back-to-school season and beyond. This approach not only benefits employees but can also lead to improved morale, productivity, and employee retention.

Do you have HR-related questions around supporting your employees during back-to-school time? Contact us today!

The Eye in the Sky: MONITORING offsite work

Do you have hourly remote workers? Do you monitor their offsite work? 


Employers must have very clear policies about how hourly employees will record their time worked and clear policies when employees “are not on-the-clock”. 


Hourly employees checking emails off-hours is compensable time and a performance issue. Policies need to clearly outline expectations of the employee’s work hours. This is a “HOT-BUTTON” issue that employers should not ignore!!!!


Now is the time to review and/or revise your remote-work policies. HR Synergy’s “HR at Your Service” is a great resource to aid you in this endeavor to help you balance the fine-line between legally monitoring and being overbearing. 


5 tips for employers to weigh the pros and cons of monitoring remote workers:

  1. Consider How Technology Can Help
  1. Recognize that Compliance Is Complicated

-Privacy rights and the relevant monitoring laws at the federal, state, and local levels

-Safeguard personal information

  1. Review the Patchwork of Laws
  1. Focus on Morale
  1. Weigh the Alternatives


Overall, employers need to clarify the differences between productivity and respecting their employees’ privacy and morale. Monitoring can offer valuable insights and benefits, but it should be implemented with careful consideration of legal requirements and employee concerns.


Remember that the legal landscape may continue to evolve, so it’s essential to stay informed about relevant developments in this area. Seeking guidance and staying up-to-date with the latest information can help employers navigate these considerations effectively.

Contact us today as we can help through “HR At Your Service.”

Save yourself the $$$ headache: Schedule Your Mock DOL Audit Today!

As the Department of Labor (DOL) and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) increase their scrutiny on employer practices, it is important for companies to ensure compliance with Federal and State labor laws and regulations. A DOL audit can have a significant impact, leading to fines ranging from $500 to a staggering $5,000,000. 


To avoid potential financial and moral risks, consider conducting a mock DOL audit with HR Synergy LLC. Our comprehensive audit will help you identify areas you are doing well and areas of risk of non-compliance and tools to take corrective action, ensuring your company is well-prepared for any future DOL inspection.


What is a Mock DOL Audit? A mock DOL audit is a proactive approach to assess your company’s employment practices throughout the employee life cycle. Our team at HR Synergy LLC gathers detailed information, similar to what the DOL inspectors would examine during a real audit. By conducting this simulation, we can identify potential strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to address any compliance issues before they become a problem.

Recently, we conducted a mock DOL audit for a client and identified significant areas of concern. Outdated federal and state labor laws posters, potential HIPAA and personal information exposure, I-9 form non-compliance, inaccurate timekeeping records, and inconsistent pay practices were some of the critical issues we uncovered. If this small company were subjected to a real DOL audit, they could have faced fines of approximately 3.2 million dollars.


Take Action Today: Are you confident that your business can ace a DOL audit? Don’t wait for a real inspection to reveal compliance issues that could cost your company dearly. Schedule your mock DOL audit with HR Synergy LLC today by calling (603) 261-2402. Our experts will help you identify your compliance exposure and work with you to establish a strong foundation of compliance. We recommend conducting a mock audit annually to stay ahead of potential risks and maintain a compliant workplace environment. Remember, your compliance is crucial to us and should be equally important to you.

Schedule your mock DOL audit with us today!

Blesiure: Wanderlust Work Travel

Have you considered combining your business travel with leisure traveling? Many are ready to resume travel and blending trips can help employees’ tight budgets. With work/life balance and mental/physical health being a higher priority, “Bleisure” could help improve these!

The concept of “bleisure” travel, where employees combine business and leisure on their trips, can offer numerous benefits both for employees and companies. However, there are also challenges and considerations that need to be addressed when implementing such a policy.

Creating a Bleisure Policy

To address these challenges and enjoy the benefits of blended travel, companies should consider making changes to their travel policies. HR Synergy can help! 

Reach out to us for more information about how we can help you navigate Bleisure travel and other HR related issues/concerns.