This is a 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition (#SHRM19) interview is with Astron Solutions, a human resources consulting firm. Below is a quick Q&A with Jennifer Loftus, the national director.
Who is Astron Solutions!? Tell us everything, just as you would someone approaching your booth and asking you this question at #SHRM19 in Las Vegas.
Thanks for asking! Astron Solutions is a compensation consulting and talent management technology firm headquartered in New York City. Our focus is on the design and implementation of programs that impact an organization’s two most important human resources concerns: rising human resources costs and retaining qualified staff. We’re thrilled to be celebrating 20 years of enabling organizations of all sizes and industries across the US to be more effective employers!
Astron’s consulting services focus on the areas of total cash compensation, executive compensation, employee surveys, reward & recognition, performance management, and employee communication. Our programs provide a positive ROI to our clients, through increased employee engagement and reduced employee turnover.
Flare® is Astron’s proprietary cloud-based talent management system, celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this year! Pretty much any talent management program or tool your organization needs, Flare® has, along with personalized service, custom configuration, and budget-friendly pricing.
No matter what solutions we provide to our clients, we stay true to our tagline – unique, affordable, friendly.
Let us in on the magic. How do you utilize your own tech and processes to ensure employee engagement and retention?
Sure! Let’s take a peek behind the curtain. Here at Astron, we ensure our clients’ abilities to maintain and build employee engagement & retention in two primary areas.
On the compensation consulting side of our practice, at the beginning of each engagement we invest the time to understand the client, their culture, and the current challenges they face. We need to know the current lay of the land in order to help them move to their desired state. With that understanding, we can then customize and tailor our recommended compensation solutions to meet both current and future needs.
On the Flare® side of our practice, technology rules! Flare®’s modules directly support employee engagement & retention through onboarding, performance management, pay for performance, and a host of other touchpoints occurring during the employee life cycle. Our software development teams individually partner with each client, and get to know them. Our teams understand our clients’ needs, wants, hopes, and frustrations with other vendors. We transform that knowledge into the customized and configured cloud-based tool those clients need to further drive employee engagement and retention.
What are the biggest challenges companies face when streamlining their HR? How do they overcome those challenges?
Over the years, we’ve seen organizations face a number of challenges, particularly in moving to a more effective and efficient HR function. One challenge is not fully understanding or appreciating everything HR does! HR’s role is multi-faceted, with many larger organizational implications. HR must educate others on why certain activities have to be done, and how HR can more effectively and efficiently address strategic organizational needs.
Another challenge is overthinking things! Now, that doesn’t mean that we should rush to make changes without thinking them through. On the contrary, due diligence and understanding are essential to success. When we get so mired down in detail, however, analysis paralysis can set in, preventing those streamlining activities from happening. The key is to understand an issue from multiple viewpoints, and then take the best suited action.
One other challenge is the resistance to HR put up by leaders of other functions. We often see this in the area of technology. HR may want to implement Flare®, but the Chief Financial Officer hasn’t bought in to the idea. Talent management systems can make HR departments much more effective and efficient, but HR has to market the idea effectively. That means meeting with those opposed to the idea, understanding & addressing their concerns, and presenting the concept in terms of ROI.
What do you wish more HR professionals and recruiters knew about your solutions?
Most organizations need compensation expertise to successfully recruit and retain talent, but they don’t have to have a large budget to bring in outside consultants. Our budget friendly pricing allows all employers access to highly tailored, necessary solutions.
For Flare®, we challenge anyone to find a technology firm with the wealth of HR expertise our team possesses. We don’t simply build websites that do HR processes. We deeply understand the issues HR professionals face, and know how to turn those issues & their solutions into sophisticated yet user-friendly technology systems.
What are the most important factors that influence employee retention?
Many factors influence employee retention, and can vary from employer to employer. That said, we have found some common themes across the years. First, there’s compensation. Compensation isn’t a panacea for employee retention. However, if there’s a significant gap in an organization’s pay rates or other total rewards elements vis-à-vis the market, that will impact employee retention.
Throughout our 20 years, we’ve done many client employee exit interviews. We find three primary drivers of employee retention: employee / manager relationships, growth / promotional opportunities (especially with Millennials!), and work/life balance & culture. These three elements can make or break an employee relationship – sometimes within days of someone starting a new job! It’s essential that all employers pay close attention to these, enhance as appropriate, and not be afraid to bring in outside expertise when needed. The dollars spent on an outside consultant may be far less than the cost of turnover over a year.
For anyone who won’t be able to make it to the Astron booth in Las Vegas, what do you want them to know?
Our over 100 years of collective HR experience are here for you to use to your advantage! We’re here for you – whether it’s a large project or a small, ad hoc question. Reach out any time! Please visit us online at www.astronsolutions.com, www.flaretm.com, or www.astronsurveys.com. While you’re on our website, please be sure to subscribe to Astronology®, our free bi-weekly e-zine, chock full of essential HR information you need to know. We’re also on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter – please join us there. Links to each social media channel are on our websites. We hope we’ll connect with you throughout the year, and get to meet you in person at our booth at SHRM 2020 in San Diego!
Visit the Astron Solutions booth #2517 at SHRM19!
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