a publication of Cascade Employers Association

JANUARY 2012    

   Dollars & Sense Poll

  In This Issue:




360 Executive Reviews: Later May Be Too Late

By Jerry E. Bumgarner, CCP
Director, Research and Compensation Services

More and more organizations are now conducting 360 Reviews to provide key employees with valuable performance feedback. In doing so, they help to assure the success of their executives, along with the overall effectiveness of their organizations.

Because 360’s allow bosses, peers, direct reports, vendors, customers, and others to share their perspectives about an executive’s work, these executives gain a broad, objective view of specific performance areas. When conducted in a timely manner, 360 Reviews will strengthen the positive momentum executives have achieved and point to constructive action in any areas needing improvement.

However, our experience has proven that timing is critical. While 360’s are intended to pinpoint both strengths and challenges, you can’t wait until the challenges are too great to overcome. A 360 is an excellent tool, but probably not at its best when used as an axe. To be useful, a 360 Review must be conducted at the first sign of a potential problem, long before irreversible damage is done.

If negative feelings and loss of trust have been allowed to brew too long, changing that course may involve considerable investments of time, effort, and money … with no guarantee of recovery. In these instances, a serious intervention will generally be required to correct the major deficiencies. Specific action plans with specific steps and timelines must be put in place immediately (e.g., executive coaching, professional development training, establishment of employee support committees, specific performance goals) to help strengthen relationships, morale and employee engagement.

When an executive commits to making the changes needed to restore trust and respect within their organization, a follow-up 360 Review should be scheduled within a year to evaluate the progress and impact of the improvement initiatives. Trust and respect must be restored to assure successful leadership. However, in spite of the executive’s commitment, many relationships may be beyond the point of reconciliation. Unfortunately, when the damage can’t be repaired, some employees (possibly including the executive) may need to consider other employment options.

Strong leadership is necessary at every level. For leaders who are open minded and willing, 360 review data will help them to focus, invest in change, and strengthen their overall performance. In the long run, the only sound way to improve performance is through constructive communication, individual initiative and collaborative problem solving.

Cascade has the resources you need to support the success of your organization and help you navigate through the difficult situations. Contact us for more information.


So You've Decided To Do A 360° Review - What Next?

By Jerry E. Bumgarner, CCP, Director, Research and Compensation Services
and Michelle Toney, Director, Knowledge Development |

Here are a few steps that could happen once you have decided that a 360° Review is the right tool for you to use.

  • First, decide on the goal of the 360. Is the purpose to gather feedback in a certain area? Common performance categories for a 360° Review are: communications, leadership, interpersonal, and supervision of others. Having a clear direction and purpose is pivotal to completing the next steps.
  • Choose the right questions that will be on the review. While we have standard questions, Cascade can help you develop more and guide you on correct usage of each. No need to have vendors answer questions that are designed for direct reports, etc.
  • Talk with the person or persons for whom the review will be conducted. Continuous supportive communication is very important to all involved in the 360° Review process, but especially for those who are being reviewed.
  • Consider having an outside coach available to teach a short class for respondents on how the 360° Review works. Knowing that the intent is to encourage both positive and honest feedback, and that responses are confidential, help make the 360 process successful.
  • Send a letter or email to those participating in the review to detail what the process is and how to participate. Always be open and available to answer questions, and be clear about expectations regarding response deadlines. Thank everyone for participating.
  • Launch the 360, monitor response levels, and send follow-up reminders as needed.
  • Review and evaluate the 360 results to determine employee strengths, challenges and improvement areas.
  • Meet with the employee being reviewed to discuss strengths, challenges and improvement areas.
  • Arrange for coaching, training and other support applicable to the areas identified as needing improvement.
  • Follow up with all involved in the review to share summary data, only in a confidential manner.
  • Keep involved in the results of the coaching, training, etc. and give positive feedback for changes being made.
  • Conduct a follow up 360 again in six months to measure progress.


Executives Optimistic About 2012 According to Economic Trends Survey

JANUARY 2012, PORTLAND, OREGON - "Many top executives are optimistic about 2012. The 2012 Economic Trends Survey shows optimism among executives about the Oregon and National economies."

-Jerry Bumgarner with Cascade Employers Association.

The Economic Trends Survey is a comprehensive annual survey of nearly 2,000 top executives nationwide, and reflects a relatively optimistic view. The results did not vary significantly by region or state.

Oregon Economy & Sales: Optimistic

In Oregon, an impressive 87% of the executives surveyed expect the overall economic outlook for 2012 to be about the same or better compared to 2011. At the same time, 61% are expecting slight to significant increases in sales/revenue. Not all were quite as enthusiastic, with 26% anticipating flat sales/revenue and 13% expecting a decrease in sales/revenue.

When it comes to investments in people facilities or equipment in 2012, 66% of the executives say they will not be making any significant investments, but the remaining organizations say they will be investing in home office, domestic, and/or international operations.

Oregon Job Creation Barriers

The greatest barrier to job creation, according to executives, is concerns about further economic decline (56%). The next two greatest response groups said the biggest barriers are limited consumer demand (19%) and excessive government regulations (16%).

Staff Size: Growing A Bit in Oregon

Although 51% of the executives reporting do not plan to increase the size of their staff in 2012, nearly 26% plan to hire additional staff, with most of those expected during the first half of 2012. These results are similar to last year.

Compensation & Benefits Strategies

60% of the respondents report plans to award wage/salary increases in 2012, and 32% plan to award variable/bonus awards during the year. Significantly, only 16% of the executives surveyed indicated plans to freeze or reduce wages/salaries in 2012, which is down sharply compared to the 31% who either froze or reduced wages/salaries in 2011. These increases are in the form of merit, general or cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

Cost-Cutting Measures

As executives continue to manage their organizations through the challenging economy, 49% plan to trim costs by focusing mainly on lean/process improvement initiatives during 2012. The top cost-cutting measures planned for 2012 are outlined below.

Top Cost Cutting Measures for 2012 
Lean/process improvement initiatives49%
Shift a larger percentage of healthcare costs to employees27%
Layoffs (permanent reduction in staff)10%
Reduce paid time off benefits (vacations, personal days, etc.)  5%

"Interestingly, 42% of respondents have no cost-cutting plans for 2012. It's not clear if this is a barometer of employers' optimism or if it is an indicator of how lean companies are already operating after past cost-cutting measures," said Beth Olenski, with United Employers Association.

Survey Information

This Employer Associations of America survey reflects national, regional and individual state conditions with 1890 companies contributing data in 2012: 45% were from manufacturing, and 55% from other industries.

The survey also represents all sizes of companies, from 1-99 employees (53%), 100-249 employees (25%), 250-499 employees (12%), 500-999 employees (5%), and over 1,000 employees (5%). Data was collected between October and November of 2011.

For more information on how you can access salary information for your organization, please contact us.


FreshView on Compliance

By Cascade Staff

Question: What is the legal definition of a “full-time” employee?

Answer: There is no “legal” definition of full-time. Employers may define this classification as they please.

Typically, full and part-time employees are relevant for benefit eligibility purposes. For instance, you may decide that only full-time employees may be eligible for participation in your health insurance plan. A formal definition of “full-time” in your Handbook will help employees know whether they are eligible.

Further, it is important to be sure that what you are communicating to employees is consistent with what is provided in your contracts with your benefit providers. If you do not intend to provide benefits to part-time, seasonal, or temporary employees, be sure they are specifically excluded in your plan agreement, and defined appropriately in your Handbook.


Did You Know?

When asked if they permitted employees to access social media sites (such as Facebook or LinkedIn) during work hours, the majority of the employers said, “No.” Only 38% of employers with less than 100 employees answered that they allowed their employees access.

Even if popular sites are restricted, the increased use of smart phones has put the pressure on employers to have clear guidelines of use where their organization is concerned. Do you have a social media policy for your organization? For Cascade Members, a sample policy is available here.

If you follow Cascade on Facebook, please take our poll about social media policies. We'd love your feedback!

©2012 Cascade Employers Association. All rights reserved.
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