How To Ensure You’re Providing Employees With a Healthy and Safe Workspace

It may come as somewhat of a shock to most of us, but workplace safety is actually a pretty substantial issue in the United States. For a developed country, we have a lot of preventable accidents happen — nearly 7 million workplace injuries per year! This number certainly doesn’t include all of the times employees feel like they have to take unnecessary risks to get a job done or fail to report relatively minor injuries and close calls. 

Obviously, as a manager, one of the most important things you can do is take steps to ensure your employees are working in a safe and healthy work environment. Where there are inherent risks, it is your duty to educate employees and put forth an effort to mitigate them as much as possible. Beyond just physical health, this also means providing a safe place mentally and socially as well. 

 

Especially in the era of COVID-19, taking the time to assess risks and make calculated efforts to limit health disasters is of the utmost importance. The challenges may be different, but ultimately the responsibility is the same. 

 

Here are some things you can do as a manager to help ensure a safe and healthy work environment for all of your employees. 

Encourage a Culture of Safety

It isn’t always easy to encourage employees to take workplace safety seriously, If your company has been fortunate enough to have avoided injuries for quite some time, it can be easy to become complacent. In these situations, one of the best things you as a manager can do is lead by example. Take safety seriously and do your best to encourage others to do so as well. 

 

Education and constant reminders are some of the best tools for building an atmosphere of safety. Take steps to ensure that all employees are properly trained and have received the appropriate equipment to complete their jobs prior to them starting work. In addition, put signage and other forms of visual reminders where people will see them regularly. 

 

Some of the most common workplace injuries come from tasks that employees do nearly every day without an issue. It can be in the form of an object falling on them, repetitive motion injuries, strains, overexertion, or overexposure to loud noises. As a manager, encourage employees to take the time they need to do the job effectively and safely without rushing. Frequent breaks to rest and stretch can also help. 

Promote Personal Health

No matter what you think is going on in one of your employee’s lives, chances are you don’t really know or understand the whole story. Employees could be dealing with all sorts of hidden issues or unseen disabilities that make work more challenging than it should be. Although personal issues really shouldn’t be allowed to impact work performance, we’re all human and occasionally things leak over on accident. 

 

As a manager, strive to help employees promote their own personal health in any way that you can. For instance, make sure you are ADA compliant and capable of supporting all employees no matter the situation. 

 

Likewise, encourage employees to do small things that will benefit their health in the long-term. For instance, taking regular work breaks and going on walks can relieve stress and help tense muscles relax. If possible, work towards offering wellness programs and health-related perks to employees such as gym membership discounts or free yoga classes once or twice a week during lunch. 

Create a Friendly Atmosphere

The atmosphere of your workplace is a commonly undervalued factor when assessing the health and safety of a workplace. It may not seem obvious, but a negative company culture or a few tasteless or rude employees can completely change the tone of an office space. This can lead to decreases in employee satisfaction and productivity as well as increase feelings of stress and anxiety in the workplace — neither of which should be present in an employee truly feels safe. 

 

One of the big things you can do as a manager is spot problems early and work towards addressing them before they blow up. Encourage the use of inclusive language in the workplace — this can help employees feel less alienated by coworkers with different values and more part of a larger team. If disagreements do arise, work through them as a neutral character and try to address them with empathy and compassion. 

 

The role of employers is changing when it comes to workplace safety. Twenty or thirty years ago safety may have only included physical health; now it includes not only physical health, but mental health, inclusion, protection from harassment, and cybersecurity. As a manager, this means there is a lot on your plate when it comes to the health and welfare of your employees. 

 

***

 

Workplace safety is a serious issue in many workplaces. Managers must work to encourage an atmosphere of both physical safety, equality, and inclusiveness in the workplace. It isn’t always an easy task, but it can be a rewarding one at the end of the day. 

 

How to Improve Interdepartmental Communication

While there are many factors that determine an organization’s success, one that is too often overlooked is interdepartmental communication. Clear, open communication between departments is essential for your company’s continued growth.

 

Weak interdepartmental communication can greatly limit a company’s progress. As an HR manager, you have the power to help your organization achieve greatness through cultivating a culture of strong interdepartmental communication. To do so, you need a strategy to determine how different teams can best communicate with each other.

 

Even if your company has yet to experience interdepartmental communication issues, you should still put strategies into place. It’s difficult to hit the reset button on a dysfunctional team. Instead, work to foster good communication from the get-go through interdepartmental collaboration and ethical communication best practices.Team members working remotely isn’t an excuse for weak communication between departments. Thanks to a variety of tools and technology, good interdepartmental communication knows no distance.

Ideas for Interdepartmental Collaboration

As an HR manager, you have a lot of say when it comes to facilitating and encouraging better communication. With the goal of bringing together cohesive, aligned teams, you must decide which ideas for interdepartmental collaboration fit best with your organization’s needs and the personalities of its team members. At the core of every suggestion concerning how to improve communication between teams is the understanding that building collaboration means building trust. You are looking for ways to foster genuine relationships between team members in which mutual respect is a given.

 

An easy place to start communicating is by putting together a regularly issued newsletter. When shared throughout the organization, a thoughtfully written newsletter is a great way to ensure all team members are aware of the overall goals of the business and what each department is doing to work toward those goals. 

 

Of course, face to face interaction is equally, if not more, important to improving interdepartmental communication. While open house meetings and lunch and learn events can improve communication, informal environments are often better suited to encouraging authentic relationships between employees from different departments.

 

Volunteering has a myriad of team-building benefits. When departments work together, it instills a sense of camaraderie in a more natural way. Volunteering is an opportunity for employees to connect outside of the office. It gives team members a chance to get to know one another without the pretense of their typical roles. 

 

Furthermore, volunteering is a chance to collaborate on something unrelated to work. It can be the change of scenery necessary for a more well-rounded understanding of how someone completes tasks. Think of it as stepping back to see the bigger picture. Volunteering gives team members a chance to get to know each other’s personalities.

 

When you know someone’s personality, you’re more likely to appropriately interpret their behavior and less likely to assume malicious intent. Other ideas for interdepartmental collaboration on this deeper level include interdepartmental lunches and job-shadowing opportunities. 

 

Ethical communication best practices

As you move to organize interdepartmental collaboration opportunities for your organization, it’s important to keep ethical communication best practices in mind. Rather than assuming everyone is familiar with the best practices, it’s a good idea to provide a refresher lesson. Ethical communication is founded upon a culture of respect and trust. Neither you nor your team members should take that as meaning there will never be conflict. 

 

Rather, when there’s a company culture of respect and trust, team members refrain from personal attacks in favor of constructive communication. Misunderstandings are inevitable, but when everyone is committed to ethical communication best practices, uncomfortable conversations won’t lead to a breakdown in communication.

 

So much more than just “working together,” best practices and collaboration skills allow team members across departments to engage with one another in an efficient manner for maximum productivity. Top companies like Apple know teamwork is key. To tap into maximum productivity and to communicate effectively, it’s critical to make known the exact roles and responsibilities of each team member.

 

Once everyone’s roles and responsibilities are established, all team members should understand the organization’s big goals and how each team fits into achieving them. If employees are going to prioritize the group goals ahead of their own personal satisfaction, they need to see how collaboration benefits everyone.

 

Other ethical communication best practices include being aware of both verbal and nonverbal cues. For example, if one department frequently ignores emails and memos from another department, there’s likely going to be an issue. When situations do arise, it’s imperative to speak directly to the issue at hand and be willing to apologize. Forgiveness is equally important since maintaining a grudge can derail future collaboration.

Tools for facilitating better communication

Whether hashing out a misunderstanding or collaborating on a project, technology and tools can help facilitate better communication between departments and streamline staff management. Such technology is especially useful when team members are working remotely. By utilizing shared boards, folders and apps, team members can quickly access each other’s work and more easily share ideas. As HR manager, you should organize training for any collaboration tools your organization decides to utilize so that everyone knows how to access them and is on the same page.

 

When some or all team members are working remotely, digital communication channels such as instant messaging and video conference tools are essential. In a pinch, you can even send a fax from your phone. For your digital communication needs, check out these tools:

 

  • Asana: A mobile app that allows team to track and manage their work
  • Slack: A “collaboration hub” that allows team members to chat as a group or one-to-one 
  • Zoom: An easy to use platform for video and audio conferencing
  • Google Drive: A cloud-based file storage which gives team members the option to grant access of files to one another

While these tools can help facilitate better communication, it’s important to remember the key to improving interdepartmental communication is an environment of trust and respect which you,as an HR manager, have the power to cultivate. From making your recruiting process more collaborative to enhancing company morale, strong interdepartmental communication is vital for growth and success.

Tips for Creating a Productive Home Office

Thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, many people have found themselves working from home in order to keep their business above water and even to continue growth and success. When you’re in a leadership position, it’s important to stay motivated and productive while you’re working remotely so you can inspire others to do the same. 

 

The good news? Studies have shown that working from home can actually increase productivity

 

Having a designated office space for yourself while you work from home can help you to stay on task, inspire your team to do the same, and set your business up for continued success throughout these uncertain times and beyond. 

 

How can you create a productive work environment in your own home? Can an office space really make that much of a difference? 

Setting the Scene for Success

How you set up your office space can make a big difference in your productivity level. A good rule of thumb is to prepare a separate room or area of your home that will strictly be used as your office. As tempting as it can be to sit on the couch and work, there are a few drawbacks to that. First, more people than ever are using video conferencing platforms: 

 

  • Zoom
  • GoTo Meeting
  • Google Hangouts

 

As a leader within your business, you’ll want to make sure your space looks professional if/when your team is able to see it through an app or program. Not only does it set a positive example for them and can earn you a certain level of respect, but it can actually help your team members adjust to the “new normal.” Some people aren’t used to working remotely. Showing your team that you still have certain expectations for yourself and them while you all work from home will help you to maintain an office culture of success, even when you’re not in the office. 

 

You don’t have to go overboard with your home office, but there are a few basics you should invest in to set yourself up for success: 

 

  • A functional desk
  • A comfortable chair
  • Proper lighting (utilizing natural light can help to boost productivity)
  • Necessary technical equipment
  • Office supplies

 

Once you have what you need, you can go one step further with your home office setup by creating an environment that encourages productivity. Painting the walls a non-distracting, neutral color can help, as can adding a few plants to the room or mirrors to make the space look bigger and brighter. 

Maintaining Your Motivation

As a leader or HR professional, one of the responsibilities that may fall on you is keeping your team motivated and ready for success while you’re all working from home. That is difficult to do when you’re struggling to stay motivated yourself. 

 

One way you can improve your motivation is to keep to a routine. While it can be tempting to stay in your pajamas and sleep in, you should follow the same daily routine you used to get ready for work when you had to go into the office. Wake up at the same time, do your morning rituals, and get dressed as you normally would have done. 

 

Then, make sure you have specific working hours for the day. You don’t have to “clock in” at a specific time, but if you’re used to working 8-5, continue with that schedule. Be sure to take breaks throughout the day to avoid burning out or feeling overwhelmed by some of the challenges that can come from remote working. 

 

The most important thing you can do to maintain motivation is to strike a healthy work-life balance. When you limit yourself to working certain hours of the day, you can dedicate your time after work to your family, your children, or even to self-care. 

Be a Resource for Remote Working

Not everyone is used to working remotely, and some employees will handle it better than others. It’s important for you to be a resource to all of your employees of all different ages. Communicating effectively to the different generations who work with you will help everyone to feel more comfortable and knowledgeable about what’s expected of them during their time working at home. 

 

It’s still your job to banish stereotypes, rethink company culture, and use as many different forms of communication as possible to defuse generational conflict. Walk your employees through apps like Zoom for meetings, or how to connect with you one-on-one. If you’re worried that some of your older employees might be struggling with working remotely, check in on them. Or let technology come to the rescue by using apps like CircleCare, which can help you to directly connect with employees. Encourage them, motivate them, and check in on their mental health and well-being. If you have workers who are struggling to transition to the remote lifestyle, be a resource for them to make the adjustment easier. 

 

You might also consider hiring more remote workers during this time, especially if your business has picked up or you need knowledgeable, independent contractors to fill in the gaps. 

 

This current pandemic has shown businesses across the world how valuable remote working can be. For some people, it might become the “new normal.” For others, getting back to a traditional office environment will be the most beneficial thing. Focusing on keeping your team motivated and successful at this time starts with what you can do at home, so be sure you have an office space that keeps you on task. 

 

Image Source: Pexels

How to Spot Workplaces With Safe Working Conditions

Workplace safety has been a growing concern for workers in the modern era. After all, in spite of all of the safety concerns inherently woven into the modern business model, there were still over 5,000 deaths on the job in 2018 in the U.S. alone.

 

Even if you work in an industry where the likelihood of death is microscopic, there are still a variety of concerns even within the safest of workspaces. For instance, nearly a third of the workplace-related injuries in 2013 were directly attributed to poor workplace ergonomics —  a seemingly minor yet important consideration for those sitting in a chair all day long.

 

The point is, everything from slip and fall accidents and mental health to legitimate life or death situations should be taken into consideration. If you’re looking for a job in a safe work environment, here are a few specific conditions to keep in mind while you’re in search of employment.

Feel Out a Company’s View on Premises Liability

While you don’t necessarily want to enter an interview with a list of aggressive questions about a company’s safety considerations, it’s still important to do some sleuthing to that effect throughout the hiring process. 

 

For instance, if possible, try to discover what the company has done to address basic safety concerns like premises liability. If they’re a storefront, do they de-ice their walk regularly in the winter? Even if they’re a B2B operation, do they guard against slip and fall accidents within their offices? If they have a pet-friendly policy, do they have safeguards against dog bites and animal attacks?

 

If you can discover a company’s attitude towards these small yet significant matters, it can go a long way towards figuring out if an office environment will be safe to work in.

Look for Structure

Another way to get a feel for the security measures (or lack thereof) that a company might have in place is by looking for the little signs. For example, if a company has a thought-out, well-developed, and easily understandable employee handbook, chances are they’re genuinely invested in the well-being of their employees. 

 

Another easy giveaway is if an employer ensures that a professional counselor or other mental health resources are available for its employees. Caring for the mental health of employees is a critical responsibility of the modern employer and one that should be front and center in their safety policies.

Inquire After the Silent Killers

In the episode “The Surplus” of NBC’s incredibly successful workplace parody The Office, HR rep Toby Flenderson promotes the idea that the office should use a financial surplus to have the office’s air quality tested. He sites concerns such as asbestos and radon that could be harming the office workers without their even being aware of it, with the thoughtful rep referring to them as “silent killers.”

 

Likewise, when on the job hunt, it’s important to gauge if a potential employer is going to embrace the battle against things like radon, asbestos, and mold. Will they go the extra mile for their workforce’s health or do they mimic Michael Scott, who ultimately rejects Toby Flenderson’s suggestion out of hand by calling him the “silent killer.”

 

It may be humorous when depicted on a sitcom, but long term exposure to hazardous chemicals can be extremely dangerous, and things like mold and even dust can exacerbate allergies. As such, it’s important to keep them in mind when considering the safety of a potential workplace.

Consider Job Security

While tripping at work or suffering from asbestos are legitimate daily concerns, it’s also important to keep general job security in mind, too. This is easy to overlook, but if you move to a city or industry that is atrophying, you may find yourself under perpetual stress before long as you try to survive a toxic, panicked work environment that is simply trying to survive. This kind of scenario is hardly conducive to individual health and safety, as a company in this situation will likely be redirecting resources towards its very survival.

 

Instead, look for jobs in areas that are up and coming. It’s easy to find constantly updated lists of states and cities that are flourishing. By focusing your job search in these areas, you can ensure that you’re positioned in a geographic location that will continue to grow along with your career.

 

In addition, there are many smaller, hidden personal benefits to this kind of move. For instance, if you purchase a home in a growing urban or suburban area as you relocate for work, there is a good chance that your property’s value will naturally increase without your lifting a finger.

Finding a Safe Place to Work

The world is a much safer place than it’s been in the past. However, just because employers are collectively more aware of the inherent dangers in a workplace doesn’t mean they all respond to those dangers in the same fashion.


As you search for a new HR position — or any employee position, really — don’t let logistics, finances, and job descriptions shoulder out the consideration of how safe each place is to work. Both your short and your long term health can be impacted by how safe your workplace is. After all, you’ll likely end up spending upwards of 90,000 hours in that space. So make sure it’s safe.

New Recruitment & Training Techniques for HR Management

Staffing is one of the biggest employer challenges, especially in the growing healthcare industry, for example. The unemployment rate in the field has dropped to a mere 2.0%, making employee recruitment and retention critical to your organization’s success. Technology can aid your HR department in the process.

Recruitment

It’s important to understand who best fits your company’s culture (and what they’re looking for in return) to recruit the top talent in a competitive market. Ensure your efforts to attract and hire new personnel is well focused and that your organization understands a prospect’s needs.

Consider streamlining the hiring process by requiring prospects to test for the position. Doing so will save you time on meetings and interviews with individuals who may look good on paper but may not be a match. Culture indexing uses technology to assess and qualify top talent for better hiring. These short online tests determine whether or not an organization is the right fit for you and the recruit.

It’s also important to collaborate with other HR staff to understand what ideal hires look for in a new employer. To know what your target talent wants, it’s sometimes best to know what they don’t want. A report by the Work Institute listed the top reasons employees quit their jobs. Retirement and the work environment were among the top 10. While the former is unpreventable, the latter can be altered; use the information provided to find solutions to the main employee complaints and position your organization as one of the top companies in the field.

Career Development

The report found that the No. 1 reason workers leave is to further advance their careers (22%). Does your company offer benefits that allow for staff to train and move up in the organization? If not, start developing a system now. Otherwise, when recruiting, emphasize your company’s commitment to employee advancement and training programs.

Consider including the discussion of career goals as part of the regularly-scheduled employee performance review. Find ways to implement an online training program or on-the-job learning where staff can expand their current skills. The medical field is a busy and fast-paced industry. Asynchronous learning may be the best solution for employees interested in ongoing education because they can study around their busy schedules.

Help employees meet their career goals by assigning a manager or lead who can guide them and document the staff member’s career goals. Your organization may already have a system for HR files. Include a career goal profile in the employee’s personnel file so that HR and other support personnel can stay updated and track their progress. 

Work-Life Balance

Even the best personnel can experience burnout. The Work Institute’s report found that 12 out of 100 people left their job to attain a better work-life balance. Offering staff more flexible work hours using flextime, job sharing, or telecommuting where staff work from home (when possible) are some solutions to address the work-life balance challenge.

Telecommuting or remote work may be the best solution for personnel who may be in danger of burnout. Can your company implement processes and technology so that employees may work remotely from home? Airtasker.com surveyed 1,000 full-time employees and found that remote work made employees more productive and allowed them to have more time for their personal lives. 

Working from home saved employees an average of 8.5 hours per week previously wasted on commuting. And most importantly, remote workers were more focused and productive, with an average non-productive time of 37 minutes while at the office and 27 minutes while at home.

Work Environment

Several of the reasons employees quit their job have to do with the work environment itself. The reasons employees left included:

  • Manager behavior: 11 out of 100
  • Well-being: 8 out of 100
  • Job characteristics: 8 out of 100
  • Literal work environment: 5 out of 100

Reducing conflict and high-pressure in the work environment may be difficult in certain healthcare facilities like an urgent care facility or an ambulatory surgical center. Still, it’s worth the effort if your organization wants to attract and retain employees. The benefits go well beyond team morale — improving the work environment can enhance the quality of care and reduce costly errors. Consider how the following improvements can benefit your company:

Redesign the Office Layout

Improve flow by separating patient traffic from areas where medical staff frequently access. Separate entrances make it easier for staff to enter and exit patient rooms and work with less interruption. Besides separating patients from staff, give management their own area away from staff, so that team members can work freely without feeling overly observed.

Create an Environment With Well-Being in Mind

A calm and inviting environment is ideal for patients, but consider your staff’s needs as well. Repaint walls in a soothing neutral color; there are many options, from soft whites to bolder grays. Simple improvements like natural or improved lighting, live plants, and ergonomic office furniture add comfort and function in the workspace.

Improvements Start at the HR Level

Attracting new hires and retaining existing personnel is essential to your company’s growth. It’s one of the most important tasks of the HR department. Implementing new ideas and technology to create an ideal work environment can better position your company as one of the most sought-after in the job market. 

Ways You Can Develop a Healthy Work Environment for Your Employees

Almost all business leaders realize that the happier and healthier your team is, the better they will perform. And of course, great performance by employees means that your company grows and succeeds more easily.

However, too many leaders don’t put a lot of thought or planning into their work environment. They let it be whatever it is – which is often something not conducive to high productivity and engaged work. 

The good news is that you can create a work environment where your employees are healthy and happy. Here’s what you need to know. 

Provide a Sense of Mission For Everyone

Too many company mission statements are a mish-mash of corporate-speak that doesn’t really mean anything to anyone. It goes on the wall, but it isn’t lived out day-to-day. But your business can be different.

People’s lives at work are greatly enriched if they feel that they are doing something meaningful. It gives them a sense of ownership and encourages them to do their best work. Pay alone doesn’t encourage creativity and engagement. Mission-driven workers are 54% more likely to stay for five years at a company and 30% more likely to become high performers. 

Making your mission the front and center of every day isn’t just good for employees, either – it’s essential to a successful organization. The mission makes your team cohesive.

Patagonia is a great example of this. They have an explicit mission to be a steward of the planet and among other initiatives, don’t make metal pitons that are hammered into rock. Their clothing is made from organic cotton. And it doesn’t stop there. Their headquarters welcomes employees’ children and the company allows surfing breaks, flexible schedules, and volunteering sabbaticals. 

The result? A successful company, 4% turnover, and 9,000 applicants for new openings. 

Pretty impressive!

Offer Health and Wellness Resources

A company that wants a truly healthy and happy environment will offer the resources to make it happen. 

A big part of this is allowing workers time off when they’re ill, and encouraging them to treat their illness rather than being a “hero” and coming to work sick. Using a natural treatment method such as CBD can help employees battle a number of cold and flu symptoms at once, such as aches and pains, fatigue, and even nausea.

You can also offer workplace wellness programs. Wellness programs encourage healthy behaviors, give options for treating problems, and encourage employees to be consistent in their health efforts. 

As a result, your company will save a significant amount of money. The average financial return on these programs is $3.27 in health savings for every dollar spent, along with $5.82 for every dollar spent in lower absenteeism. 

Employees appreciate these programs, both for the impact on health and on the overall culture of the company. In fact, 87% consider these options when choosing an employer.

If you want a happier, healthier workforce, consider offering a variety of health-related programs employees can take advantage of. This may include health educators, counselors, and even massage therapists. Health educators and counselors can provide in-depth education on preventive care employees can engage in to keep themselves in tip-top shape. These educational programs often teach lifestyle changes and choices such as diet or exercise programs or meditation techniques.

Don’t Overlook Mental Health

Americans are among the most stressed populations in the world, and nearly half feel worried on a regular basis. Helping your employees handle these pressures is important. Some of the cause is work stress, but many Americans also feel stressed about finances, their health, and their families. 

Offering access to confidential mental health programs like an Employee Assistance Program can also make a big difference. You can also encourage the use of technology, like mobile apps, to monitor and improve mental health.

Be sure you don’t stigmatize or punish employees — officially or unofficially — who take advantage of these programs. Otherwise, you’re working against the health and happiness you’re spending money to provide.

When you prioritize physical and mental health in the workplace, you’re sending a message that your employees matter and aren’t just a worker to you. You see them as people, and that’s important for a healthy work environment.

Give Consistent Praise and Recognition

Not receiving praise and recognition for good work is a consistent complaint among employees. Too many workplaces focus on correcting mistakes and overlook when people do a good job. It’s simply expected.

Unfortunately, not giving praise and recognition puts your employees on the fast track to leaving the company. Being unappreciated is the number one reason employees look for other jobs. 

Make a plan and include recognition as a regular part of the workday. Whether it’s encouraging employees to brag on each other or getting a thank you from a manager, your staff needs to feel appreciated. Be sure to solicit feedback from your employees on a variety of things — did your team deploy a new product?  How did it go? Have you implemented that new recognition program? What’s working and what isn’t? Great bosses ask for feedback and put it into practice. It’s yet another way to recognize your employees’ contributions.

Healthy and Happy Workers Matter

Why should you bother with employee health and happiness? Because it matters to your business and your bottom line. Companies with happy employees outperform competitors by 20%. Plus, when your employees are happier it impacts how they do their job.

Unhappy employees telegraph their attitude to customers. So do happy ones. So if you want excellent customer service, you want to have a happy, healthy staff.

You’ll also save significant money on health costs, turnover, and absenteeism when your team is healthier and happier. 

Most of all, you’ll be treating employees as what they are – real people who really matter. That, alone, is plenty of reason to invest in a healthy work environment.

HR Onboarding Techniques for New Companies

A startup’s onboarding process can be less process — and more improvisation. But as your company scales, a system is needed to get your new administrative hires started on the right foot. A Bamboo HR poll found that employees who quit in the first six months of being hired felt that the job wasn’t what they expected. More than half (54%) said they quit because they didn’t want to do the job any longer, or their role wasn’t what they expected from the interview.

Considering the amount of time and effort it takes to find and onboard a new hire, retaining staff should be a priority. And it all starts with the Human Resources manager and team — the employee’s first point of contact for onboarding. Across all industries, HR managers are hired for their abilities to communicate and present information. Here are some techniques and security tips for new HR managers to present the best possible onboarding process for their new hires.

Best Cybersecurity Practices for HR Professionals

The HR department is responsible for sensitive employee information, including:

  • Social Security Numbers (SSN).
  • Medical records.
  • Birthdate.
  • Home address and family member information.

In most cases, the sensitive information is kept digitally in computers or on the cloud. This practice is generally safe, but there are vulnerabilities you should look out for to prevent the data from being compromised.

Comply With Recordkeeping Regulations

Keep updated on federal, state, and local privacy laws on how records should be kept and make sure you and your department are following the rules. Regulations may change, so it’s essential to review your company’s process, compared to current laws, and update the company privacy policy as needed. Consider the following regulations:

  • Employee record retention: The S. Department of Labor outlines how long a company’s HR department should keep records. Employee payroll documents and collective bargaining agreements must be kept for at least three years. Time cards and employee schedules must be kept for at least two years.
  • Medical records location: The Americans With Disabilities Act requires employers to keep confidential medical records such as health exams, worker’s compensation history, and leave requests separate from employees’ personnel files.
  • Data breach reporting: HR professionals in California must notify employees if the company reasonably believes their personal information was accessed by an unauthorized individual.

Know the Proper Method of Disposing of Sensitive Paperwork

Disposing of employee data is a combination of company policy and federal, state, or local regulations. Know how long you should legally retain documents and data, as well as how your company disposes of it.

Sensitive records may need to be burned or sent away to an outside service to be destroyed in compliance with federal regulations. Following your company’s guidance on the disposal of data and documents is essential to avoid data being reconstructed, read, or distributed illegally.

Look Out for Internal Cybersecurity Threats

Most HR employees are aware of the danger of external cyber attacks from hackers, phishing, or viruses. But company software or an employee’s access to internal systems can also create threats.

An example of an internal threat is email. You send a requested employee file to the wrong email address and end up compromising your hire’s private information. To minimize internal threats, follow these steps:

  • Never use or disclose an individual’s full social security number in correspondence.
  • Turn off the auto-fill feature that remembers numbers or email addresses in your email and word processing programs.
  • Regularly run virus and malware checks on your company computers.
  • Take your cue from the healthcare industry and keep software and operating systems maintained and up to date.

Best HR practices for New HR Employees

Onboarding new hires is a critical aspect of the employee’s future in the workplace. The HR department is responsible for reinforcing the company’s image, projected during the recruitment process. Getting off on the right foot is essential. The HR department should implement specific practices to ensure new employees know what to expect on their first day and beyond.

Start the Onboarding Process the Day Before the New Hire Starts

The reasoning behind this step is so that everything is organized before the recruit arrives. Have employee handbooks and documents ready. Set up and equip the new hire’s work station. Create logins and email credentials beforehand. Make sure staff know about the new hire’s arrival and assign a mentor in advance. Having the important elements prepared in advance allows onboarding to go more smoothly on his or her’s first day.

Create a Welcoming Environment

The new hire’s first day sets the tone for the employee’s time at the company. A welcoming environment and a little creativity during the onboarding process doesn’t take much effort but makes a big impact on new hires. There are several elements that can create an ideal work environment — the office space, the initial point of contact, and the support team available to guide new employees. Consider these ideas:

Set the Stage With Good Lighting

The dark corner without a window can be demoralizing to staff. In fact, a study found that employees think good lighting is the No. 1 office perk. If your office environment lacks natural light, replicating the effect using certain lighting techniques can make a difference:

  • Create different lighting zones including overhead lighting, ambient lighting, and desk lighting
  • Use lightbulbs of a specific temperature (6500k) to replicate natural outdoor light and switch to LEDs to avoid overloading the office’s electrical system
  • Use light or white colors for surfaces and walls to reflect light and provide a brighter environment

Get Creative With Employee Perks

The best way to welcome a new employee to HR or other administrative role is with a surprise or an unexpected detail. Most new hires know what to expect on the first day — a pile of paperwork to be completed, handbooks to read, and an overload of information. But imagine welcoming them with a gift basket featuring a massage gift certificate, snacks, or a gift card. The small gesture could break the ice and shake the first-day nerves off.

Personalize the New Hire Welcoming Process

You’ve staged a well-lit environment that encourages productivity and created a thoughtful welcoming gift as part of the new hire onboarding process. Ensure new hires know what team members they can reach out to if they have any questions. Personally welcome each new employee and introduce them to key support staff, available to guide them through the initial work stages, to set recruits up for long-term success.

Onboarding for Future Success

Developing an effective onboarding process takes time. The effort will be worthwhile — your new hires are investments into your company’s future and should be given the best start possible.

Protecting their privacy with proper record keeping of their personal data, providing an environment that’s bright and conducive to productivity, supporting their growth in the company, and delivering on the promises made during the interview process will likely increase your chances of nurturing a long and successful work relationship.

Image Source: Pexels

How Company Safety Responsibilities Are Evolving

Is your company keeping pace with the evolving dangers in the workplace? If you answered no, and you’re doing the minimum, then you may be putting your employees and customers at risk.

While companies have evolved exponentially in recent decades, so has humankind, technology, and the risks that both can place on a productive workforce. Changes must be made to ensure that your employees and the people who use your products and services have total confidence in your organization. Below are some ways the world is evolving and how your company should respond.

Start with the Basics

While the world is constantly changing, it is essential to remember the basics of safety in the workplace and build up from there. According to statistics from the National Safety Council, a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds. These injuries include everything from being struck by equipment and back injuries due to repetitive lifting. In the wider world, workplace incidents involve children working in dangerous factories.

The first step to mitigate these incidents is to create and promote a culture of safety around the office where everyone is equal and every worker feels comfortable when they walk into work. Add signage about common threats, have an open-door policy for employees with concerns, and hold safety meetings where you encourage everyone to keep an eye out for each other. If someone is injured on the job, make sure to follow proper workers’ compensation procedures so workers can get the care they need and know that the company has their back.

Then there are the standard safety precautions that every business should have in effect, such as testing equipment to ensure it works properly and completing regular safety inspections. Trips, slips, and falls are a common occurrence, so clean spills immediately, close drawers and remove cords from walking paths, and keep hallways free of debris. You can even implement programs that encourage health and wellness with gym memberships and required breaks during all shifts.

Preventing Workplace Violence

Unfortunately, there is a growing trend these days of violence in the workplace. Every year, 2 million assaults and threats of violence occur in our nation’s workplaces, including those sad stories we see on the news that involve gun violence. Employers must take this evolving threat seriously and be proactive so employees can feel secure when they wake up to go to work each day.

The first step should be added security, whether that is with guards or metal detectors that not only alert staff if someone brings a weapon into the office, but are helpful in preventing theft. Still, while a company can spend thousands of dollars on equipment, reducing the threat comes down to creating that positive company culture. Establish a zero-tolerance policy that is communicated directly to all employees verbally and with signage. Such a policy should enforce the fact that anyone who makes a threat of violence will be relieved of their duties.

Security cameras also create a way of catching incidents and holding the guilty parties accountable. It is also recommended that you have a response plan in writing if an incident were to occur that includes how to properly document the events and what victims need to do for medical attention. If an incident does occur, management should have a meeting with all staff members so that everyone can understand what occurred and how it can be avoided in the future.

Effective Cybersecurity

As our workplaces evolve, so does our technology. With advancing computer systems, hackers are finding new ways to steal consumer information. Yes, protecting your employees is paramount, but protecting the confidential information of your customers should have equal importance. Even a stolen email address can provide a hacker with access to a customer’s account and the private contact information and pictures that could be used for blackmail or fraud. You simply do not want your company to be held responsible for a damaging data breach.

Your staff is the front line of security when it comes to protecting customer data, so it is necessary to educate employees on common threats and how to avoid them. For instance, a commonly used tactic includes sending phishing emails that look like authentic correspondence but instead include a link or attachment that, when opened, creates a doorway for hackers to access your systems. Employees should be made aware of the signs of such scams, which include but are not limited to:

  • Email addresses that look real but are off by a letter or two.
  • Emails with many spelling errors.
  • Any attachment or link that they were not expecting.
  • Emails with a sense of urgency.

All employees, from the CEO to the floor workers, should know how to keep their computers secure. Computers need to be locked whenever employees leave the area, and systems should have complex passwords that include letters, numbers, and special characters. Company websites should also be protected with antivirus software and updated firewalls to prevent intrusions.

It is the companies responsibility to help their employees and customers feel safe and secure when they do business. A company that evolves with changing trends will always be highly-regarded and stand the test of time.

Image Source: Pexels

Never Let You Go: Addressing the Challenges of Retaining Employees

Let’s face it: finding the kind of talent you need to give your business the competitive edge is tough, but what’s even tougher is holding on to that talent. Gone are the days when a gifted young upstart fresh out of college takes a job with a company and remains there throughout her professional career. According to estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, today’s younger baby boomer will have held an average of 12 different jobs in their lifetime. If you’re a millennial, the number is even higher, with the churn rate of young workers three times that of preceding generations.

And that’s not good news if you own a business. If your company is hemorrhaging employees, that also means it’s hemorrhaging money. When you lose an employee, not only have you lost the skillset for which they were hired, but you also lose productivity. And lost productivity means lost profit.

What you gain, however, are additional costs in recruiting and retaining new talent. In fact, the costs to replace an employee can be as much as 50% of annual salary for an entry-level worker—and for a senior executive, those costs can soar to as much as 200%! So, what can you do today to hold on to your most talented employees for many tomorrows to come? Read on to find out!

Find the Right People

The first step to holding on to your most talented employees is to make sure they’re the right fit before you even hire them. If your company is understaffed or there’s a particular position that needs to be filled urgently, the temptation to rush the recruiting process can be great. But that’s a mistake.

It’s far better to take the time you need to ensure that the candidate you have your eye on is a good fit for your company’s future as well as its present. Incorporating this long-term strategy into the hiring process is going to help you weed out those candidates who are only interested in or fit for a short tenure, versus those who are willing and able to invest in your company for the long haul.

Make a Good First Impression

It might feel like onboarding and retention don’t have much in common, but that’s actually not at all the case. In fact, your new hire’s onboarding experience is probably going to set the tone for how they feel and think about the company. Unfortunately, though, onboarding is something not many employers pay adequate attention to. Want proof? An estimated 42% of new hires don’t even have their own computers or workstations on the first day!

If the onboarding process is confused or haphazard, if the company seems unprepared for the introduction and integration of the new employee, that’s certainly not going to reflect well on the business, its staff, or its processes. And once you’ve lost your new hire’s trust, it takes a lot of time and effort to get it back. Worse, if your employee doesn’t trust you or feel good about the company in general, you’re probably not going to keep them very long.

If a new employee is being integrated into an existing team with a strong bond, your onboarding is going to have to include more than just making sure the new recruit has a workstation and some tasks for the first day. Team building will be essential to cultivating trust not just between you and your new hire but between them and their new team. At this early stage, encourage team building via more informal activities like daily huddles or team outings. These will allow all parties to get to know each other and foster bonds that will help everyone succeed.

Grow Your Talent

While it’s key that you screen your candidates carefully and that you provide your new hires with a seamless and skilled introduction to your company, your work is far from over. It’s just beginning, in fact. Because once you have your talent in place, you need to cultivate it. People don’t like to be bored. They don’t want to stagnate. And no matter how skilled your employees may be, there’s always room, opportunity, and desire for growth.

This is why professional development needs to be central to your retention strategy. Hiring a chief learning officer (CLO) for your business is a wonderful way to help you cultivate—and keep—your best talent. The goal, ultimately, is to provide your employees with robust opportunities to learn new skills and expand existing ones, to pursue new degrees, certifications, and licensures, and to advance within the company. Essentially, if your employee can see a future with your company, they’re more likely to stick around to make it happen.

Run the Numbers

Thanks to the brave new world of data analytics, employers now have more and better tools than ever to know their business and their employees. In fact, people analytics are a powerful way to monitor the performance, engagement, and satisfaction of your workforce. Best of all, these resources can help you spot emerging trends that might compromise morale or lead to the loss of your best people. And once you’ve identified the threat, you can do what you need to end it before it escalates.

The Takeaway

Now more than ever, business owners need savvy to ensure their businesses thrive in an increasingly competitive global business environment. Developing successful employee retention strategies is one of the most potent weapons employers have for cultivating an efficient, cohesive, and high-performing workforce to cope with the formidable challenges of doing business in the new millennium. What it takes, though, is a strategy of careful recruiting, seamless onboarding, continuous talent development, and the integration of the latest and greatest in people analytics software.

Image Source: Pixabay

 

How Promoting Health in the Workplace Helps Your Employees Productivity

A recent study conducted by the Social Market Foundation links the happiness experienced by workers to heightened productivity in the workplace. There was a 12% to 20% increase in work productivity in another study, which has prompted the claim that a happier worker is a more prolific worker in his or her workplace. With that said, there are countless implications of benefits to companies that can raise production by evoking authentic happiness in their employees.

On the other side of the coin, unhealthy employees will have a harder time being happy if they are struggling to achieve wellness in the workplace. If the focus were to shift to more investments in their employees’ wellness, businesses would see not only see the benefits of increased productivity, but workplace health promotion would lessen the employee absenteeism and presenteeism. By promoting workplace health, employers can encourage morale among workers and keep the retention rate of its valuable employees high.

Across the country, an increasing number of companies, particularly workplaces with 50 or more employees, offer a minimum of one perk to their workers that promote health and wellness. More attention by employers has also shifted to programs that deal with stress tolerance and stress management, physical fitness, controlling blood pressure, weight control and nutrition, cholesterol reduction, and even addresses chronic back pain. But what else can companies do to improve their workplace environments?

Benefits of Workplace Health Promotion

Encouraging things as simple as hydrating and sleeping will help your employees show up to work as their best selves. Your employees benefit from such programs and ultimately gain more happiness on the job, which carries over into the lifestyle choices at home with their families.

The positive effects of workplace health and well-being programs are also shown to increase engagement among team members, cultivate a cohesive company culture, and elevate the production rate of workers. Research suggests that healthier and happier staff are 12% more productive. Related to this, when in place, it makes sense that wellness objectives and initiatives lead to fewer days of disability leaves or callouts for sickness.

When your workers are healthier, they tend to be happier, and the occurrence of absenteeism is not so frequent. Employees in good health have an intrinsic motivation to remain at work. As research continues to reveal the link between the mind and body when it comes to healing, employees who are less stressed can also heal faster when they have a positive disposition. Also, practicing gratitude has shown to have tremendous impacts on a person’s risk of long term illness.

When it comes to your organization’s bottom line, consider that for the flu alone, in the U.S., 17 million workdays are missed at an estimated $7 billion loss in productivity and sick days. Also, take into account the rise in workers’ compensation rates and health insurance premiums. The health of businesses depends on seeing to it that measures get made to help employees remain well, with an estimated 25% reduction in those costs when employee wellness practices and programs are instituted.

The Significance of Inhibiting Presenteeism

Across from absenteeism is presenteeism, which is when employees come into work despite feeling sick. It’s terrible for business when employees work while under the weather because it can decrease productivity since workers aren’t able to perform at their best.

By working when sick, employees also deprive themselves of much needed rest which could help them to recover in less time. During cold and flu season, for example, those seemingly dedicated staffers who come into the workplace ill spread germs that could make others sick and further lessen productivity.

With well-being initiatives and workplace health promotion strategies in place, employees will make their health more of priority and take preventative measures to remain healthy and not inadvertently cause a productivity decline by not taking of themselves. Take, for example, U.S. food service workers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in their 2014 study that there is a high prevalence of presenteeism among employees in the industry, with 12% of flu-infected workers showing up for work despite diarrhea and vomiting.

Ways to Promote Health at the Workplace

These are a few ways some companies promote wellness throughout their organization:

Access to nurse advice lines

You may want to consider having a yearlong nurse advice line that is available 24/7 to staff. Nurses either via phone or the Internet can answer health questions and offer non-emergency assistance to help workers identify illness and know how to manage symptoms and diseases.

Even if you don’t want to extend personnel in this way, still your organization can be a resource of health information for your employees. For example, you could publish a monthly newsletter dedicated to health, new medical research and other health news. Or you could ask medical professionals in your area or your insurance company to host wellness fairs that introduce holistic approaches, mental health and other health services.

Manage air quality

Ensuring there is proper ventilation for indoor spaces is another way to keep your workers healthy. Poorly ventilated indoor spaces, in particular, with all the volatile organic compounds released from office furniture and equipment, could contribute to what is known as sick building syndrome, which could be counterintuitive to any wellness promotion by making employees ill and less productive.

Mindfulness Training

According to reports, 40% of workers say their jobs are “very or extremely stressful.” Workplace stress can manifest as emotional or physical harm in response to inadequate resources or unbalanced capabilities with an employee’s needs. An excellent tool for managing stress and encouraging relaxation is mindfulness training.

Mindfulness practices can help workers reclaim balance, which could have immediate effects on increasing their productivity. Employees will be more engaged and focused on completing day-to-day tasks. Mindfulness is a type of meditation that staff could use every day along with breathing techniques or yoga, which would bring the practitioners to the present moment while working for greater efficiency.

Fitness Amenities

To promote health and wellness in the workplace is a benefit in itself, but could go hand-in-hand with incentives and benefits like paid memberships to a gym or spa. Just as monetary rewards boost motivation and cultivate employer appreciation, offering these types of fitness associations will encourage employees to remain active, which is key to good health.

An on-site gym, when it’s feasible, will let workers workout together and regularly. One of the reasons many employees don’t take time to exercise is because they are too busy. However, by allowing flexibility in employees’ schedule for a half hour to go to an on-site gym or join an exercise class, it will be convenient and motivate them to keep physically active and boost anti-sedentary attitudes and productivity.

Have a discussion with your employees about workplace wellness. Allow for feedback, questions, and discover what issues concern or interest your staff. If you don’t have any programs in place or looking for ways to get started, you can contact your company’s health insurance provider to see if your group plan offers wellness training. Some providers may have educational materials that you could distribute to get the workplace wellness conversation started among your employees. Promoting health on the job and developing a well-being program for your workers doesn’t have to be complicated. Still, there are many resources available to take advantage of so your workers can be healthier, happier and more productive, which is a win-win for your business.

Image Source: Pixabay