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.

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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

How to Build a Positive and Healthy Company Culture

If you think back to the different companies you’ve worked at over the years, each likely left a different impression on you. This is because every company has a different company culture consisting of different of unique values, ways of operating, and management style.

Company culture matters because it not only helps create a unified workforce, it can also be a key to success. In fact, Deloitte’s core beliefs and culture survey discovered 94% of executives and 88% of employees agreed that distinct workplace culture is imperative to run a business successfully. The survey also found a correlation between those who described themselves as being happy at work and their company having a distinct culture.

Positive company culture can lead to more engaged employees who are fully-present and passionate about the work they do. After all, ultimately, employees want to have a positive experience when working at an organization — and it’s your job as a leader to provide that. HR plays a significant role in creating an office culture as it begins with hiring candidates whose beliefs and values fit into that culture. As Jessica Herrin, founder Stella & Dot states; “shaping your culture is more than half done when you hire your team.” On that note, here are ways you can build a positive and healthy company culture.

What is Company Culture?

When you think of company culture, what first comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a state of the art gym and having access to unlimited snacks, or maybe it’s the daily flexibility and laid-back atmosphere. While these can be elements of company culture, there is so much more to it.

Edgar Schein, author and former MIT professor defines company culture this way: “Culture is the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization, that operate unconsciously and define in a basic ‘taken for granted’ fashion an organization’s view of its self and its environment.”

In essence, company culture is about deciding what your values and beliefs as a company are and ensuring you have a team of people ready to live by them. Harvard Business Review concludes that there are six components of great corporate culture, which include:

  1. Vision
  2. Values
  3. Practices
  4. People
  5. Narrative
  6. Place

When all of these elements are fused together, you should have a differentiated culture, improved performance, and a lasting organization. But how do you go about creating a company culture that supports the fulfillment of your overall mission and business objectives?

Hire the Right Team

Your staff are the people that will embody and create the company culture, so they’re a good place to start if you want to improve it. It is imperative that you hire new employees based on cultural fit as they will create your company culture.

A job interview is a good way to help you hire for culture fit, but you have to go beyond the information you find on their resume. Ask questions that will give you a sense of their values such as what motivates them to do their best work, or whether or not they’re still friends with old colleagues. Behavioral assessments are another good way to see how they approached work situations in the past and if they’ll fit well with your team.

Once you hire the right people, you also have to familiarize them with the new culture. Shoe and clothing retailer Zappos did this by creating The Culture Book, which consisted of employees’ definitions of company culture. This is a single example of how you can get new recruits to understand your company, what you value, and how to function within the confines of these beliefs daily.

Prioritize Job Satisfaction

Satisfied employees are likely to be happier, better engaged, and more productive. For this reason, if you want a positive company culture, you need to ensure your employees are satisfied. Monster composed a list of top ten companies based on worker satisfaction, and one member of this list includes a holding company run by Warren Buffet. Just a few of the reasons his company made it there are reportedly because of the fun atmosphere, great leadership, diversity, and flexibility.

To achieve employee satisfaction, you need to find out what their needs are and how you can help them create a balance between work and their personal lives. Know that it also doesn’t have to be a guessing game as you can get feedback directly from your staff to enhance their employee experience. For example, if you receive feedback that there isn’t enough opportunity for growth and development, you could put training programs in place. If not, your most valued employees could choose to resign in favor of another company where they see themselves growing. Seeing as turnover causes employers hundreds of thousands every year, it’s a cost worth avoiding.

Next, acknowledging employees for the contributions they make to your organization is important. Research by Gallup found one of the main reasons an employee leaves a job is because they don’t feel appreciated. Recognize yours in a way that’s meaningful to them, such as by verbally praising them or sending out an email. For those that like to be recognized with rewards, you could offer employee stock options or another form of physical of financial incentive. It’s a way of rewarding them for helping the business meet their objectives which can have good returns in terms of productivity.

You can learn more lessons about company culture from successful organizations like Apple, Virgin, and Airbnb. Two key lessons incude the golden rule — essentially, focusing on how essential it is to treat your staff how you want to be treated. Doing so not only ensures your employees are happy, but it’s also a way to preserve the reputation of your company.

Lead by Example

When it comes to company culture, it’s critical that you lead by example. Good leaders should be able and always willing to listen and show empathy, as these are integral components of a healthy business setting. Being empathetic towards employees sends a message that their feelings matter and they are seen as well as heard. This, in turn, can help you develop a staunchly loyal and more connected workforce. Additionally, you’re teaching them how to behave and treat others within your company. When you see others embodying positive company culture, champion and encourage them.

Building a positive and healthy company culture isn’t a single day’s work. It requires the upholding of core values and consistency, and at other times, it requires tearing down values or old traditions that don’t resemble the company culture you’re aiming to build for the sake of integrity. At the end of the day, positive company culture is an impetus behind a thriving business.

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The Challenges of Self-Employment

Self-employment is becoming more popular than ever. Freelancing currently makes up about 35% of workers in the U.S. Additionally, more than 7 out of 10 small business owners say they’d rather focus on growing their business than going back to a traditional form of employment.

But, just because self-employment is popular, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, it can be quite scary to branch off on your own to follow your dream or build off of an existing business. The responsibilities solely fall on your shoulder, and if you can’t make it work, you risk not being able to pay the bills.

If you’re tempted to dive into the world of self-employment, there are plenty of benefits. You get to be your own boss, set flexible hours, decide exactly how you want your business to be run, and you don’t have to answer to anyone else. It’s great for people who are tired of their traditional job, people with unique skills, or those who want to try something new. For example, self-employment is often a great option for new moms or stay-at-home parents.

But, there are also challenges you’ll undoubtedly have to face. The more aware you are of those challenges ahead of time, the easier it will be to face them and overcome them.

Paying Yourself What You’re Worth

When you’re just starting out with self-employment, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is knowing how much to charge people for your services. You can create your own policies that can help to determine your costs, and use a time card calculator to clock your hours. That can be helpful if you’re charging an hourly rate to your clients.

Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as working a set number of hours. Your pricing should be less about income and more about the quality of life you want to have. You could have 50 clients at one time and be completely burnt out, or you could have a handful of clients, be well-rested, and make more money.

Don’t set your pricing so low that you have to take on more than you can chew just to stay afloat. Consider what your services are worth. How much time and detail are you putting into what you do? What would you pay for your services? Developing pricing strategies that answer those questions is an honest way to know how much you should be charging.

If you burn yourself out because you’re not charging enough, your self-employment will fizzle out quickly because that’s not a sustainable way to live. Set boundaries for working hours and for how much work you can reasonably take on. The best clients are usually willing to pay a little bit more, so go for those big fish and don’t underestimate how much you’re worth.

Facing Personal Challenges

When you decide to take the plunge into self-employment, you should anticipate that it will be stressful – at least for the first few years. First, you’ll have to devote nearly all of your time and attention to making your “business” work. That can impact your relationships and even your mental and physical health.

You might also not be an instant success. Your first few years will undoubtedly consist of building a client base and getting consistent work. It takes time to build up that kind of loyalty from people, and at times you might feel as though you’re failing. That can take a huge toll on your self-esteem.

It’s important to build your confidence by doing things like talking positively about yourself, banning negative self-talk, and staying focused on your goals. Building confidence will help you to stick with it and can provide you with the motivation you need to make your self-employed career a success.

Planning for the Future

Once you get a large client base and it seems as though your business is taking off the ground, the last thing you’ll probably want to think of right away is what you’re going to do when you retire. Self-employed workers often face the challenge of not having a retirement fund. Not only that, but many don’t even have an “emergency” fund for the future in case something were to happen.

It’s hugely important to save for retirement when you’re not working for a business that will do it for you.

As an individual, you can contribute to an IRA with the income you make. Self-employed individuals also currently get social security benefits. While the amount given by social security usually not enough to cover living expenses, it can help when your self-employed business is slow.

Planning ahead as much as possible will help you to stay secure for the rest of your life. Hopefully, you can continue to do what you’re doing for many years to come, but everyone needs to retire at some point.

Have you been thinking about becoming self-employed? The best thing to do is to weigh out the pros and cons. If you believe the advantages of self-employment outweigh the risks, you could be the dreamer the world is looking to with the next big idea.

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The Future of Work: What Will Jobs Look Like in the Coming Decade?

Once upon a time a farmer grew up in the fields, owned a family farm, and bequeathed it to his offspring upon his death — offspring that were raised with the singular purpose to carry on the family tradition of farming.

While being “born into an occupation” is a concept as old as time itself, though, it has never been more outdated than the present. The modern work world is awash with change. Everything from workspaces and tools to employers and the employed themselves are all in a state of flux. The 21st-century has already witnessed shocking developments that have rewritten the employment script, and the situation only looks primed to heat up heading into the 2020s.

A Look at the 2010s

While it’s interesting to consider where the future of work will take us at this point, the speculation is made especially poignant when it is juxtaposed against the backdrop of the previous decade or two.

There’s no doubt that the 2010s (and to some degree the decade that preceded it) were times of incredible change for the average business. The steady creation and proliferation of new technological marvels — things like social media, smartphones, and cloud computing — served up a steady hum of digital disruption that turned the average workplace on its head.

Many of these shifts focused heavily on communication. Video and text-based electronic communications, the internet, and the instant transmission of news around the world forced companies to adapt to a more global business mindset. Even the marketplace as a whole shifted as consumers began to rely heavily on mobile phone usage. They shopped online and adjusted to free two-day shipping expectations. By the end of the decade, even traditional, non-digital advertising spending had been surpassed by its online counterpart.

To further complicate matters, the incoming millennial generation prompted a dramatic shift in workplace culture and expectations. Topics like work-life balance and addressing a toxic workplace environment began to take the front seat.

Corporate social responsibility percolated up the ranks to upper management, and businesses began looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint through things like eliminating waste or shifting to solar power. Even small items addressing work-life balance that had previously been brushed under the rug, such as bringing your dog to work, were brought up and addressed.

From one end to the other, the first decade or two of the 21st-century was riddled with transformation, experimentation, and in many ways, a complete overhaul of the traditional workplace.

A Look at the 2020s

With so much change in the rearview mirror, a question that must be asked is if the trend shows signs of slowing in the future — and the short answer is: not likely. The 2020s promise to be at least as transitional if not more than the previous two decades combined.

For instance, the millennial generation served, in many ways, as the guinea pigs of a technological world. They were born into a world with corded phones and boomboxes, only to have things like social media, self-driving cars, big data, and widespread internet use thrown in their face.

In contrast, the 2020s will be Generation Z’s chance to shine. As the first generation to completely grow up in a technologically steeped world, Gen Zers won’t have to face the need to learn to adapt. They’re already used to it.

Rather than shift the job landscape out of a necessity to adapt to change, Generation Zers are likely to take the workplace by the bit and bridle and turn it to their own will. They expect job stability, diversity, social responsibility, and flexible schedules, and they’re not afraid to question the benefits of technology.

Many Gen Zers have also eschewed a traditional degree, focusing, instead, on more entrepreneurial opportunities. When commenting on the termination of Doritos’ popular “Crash the Super Bowl” crowdsourced commercial contest, chief marketing officer Ram Krishnan pointed out that, “If you look at when we started the program, millennial consumers were the target…[Now] Our Doritos target is Gen Z consumers and they’re already content creators.” This recognition of their creative abilities speaks volumes to their potential as entrepreneurs in the 2020s job market.

Apart from the generation change, there are several other major factors that will likely shape the next decade of jobs, starting with the gig economy. In the waning years of the 2010s, the gig economy exploded. Remote work had become both easy and expected — by 2018 70% of the global workforce worked remotely at least once a week — and the rise of the freelancer began to erode the remnant of the traditional work office environment at an accelerated pace.

While controversial laws have recently been enacted looking to bring gig economy workers under the umbrella of common workers’ rights, it’s unlikely that they’ll fully bring a stop to the freelance movement.

How will this movement look over the next decade? While only time will tell, there are several likely adjustments coming down the pike including a proliferation of entirely remote offices and a further elimination of the need to commute to work. And then there’s the topic of automation. While automation already wrested numerous low-skilled jobs from workers throughout the early 21st-century, the trend only looks likely to accelerate going forward.

Balancing out the effects of automation and the gig economy is a natural rise in the demand for more skilled professionals. As employees prioritize work-life balance and flexibility, more skilled professional positions are becoming available in fields like technology, data science, and skilled trades.

Also adding fuel to the first is an increased pressure for businesses to shift their operations to more sustainable methods. Solar power and other alternative forms of energy are being pursued more aggressively than ever as part of larger business objectives. Waste is also being systematically eliminated, as has been clearly demonstrated by the coffee chain Starbuck’s continual efforts to increase the sustainability of its operations.

All Hail the Ever-Changing Changing Business Landscape?

With so much change continually swirling, a natural question that arises is whether or not things will ever slow down again. The 2020 election is already setting the tone for the future, with employment remaining a hot topic and some candidates pushing fairly radical agendas, such as Andrew Yang’s plan for universal basic income.

While many of these changes are easy to predict in general, though, time will only tell how the specific changes in the workplaces will play out as the 2020s unfold.

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Creating an Employee Benefits Package that Will Attract and Retain Talent

As you may have heard, our economy is doing quite well, and the unemployment rate is lower than it has been in many years. This boom has led to more opportunities for qualified applicants to find their dream jobs, and now is the ideal time for companies to bring in the best and brightest. However, there is a lot of competition among companies, often in your same industry, so you need to come up with a benefits package that will not only attract the top talent but keep them with your organization for the long haul.

Times have changed, and meager benefits such as free coffee and soda or the company lunch now and then are no longer enough to draw in the best people for your business. Instead, you need to think bigger, with benefits that both make a candidate’s professional life better and improve their personal lives as well.

Flexible Scheduling

The idea of driving into the office every day to work eight hours with a 30-minute lunch is no longer as appealing as it used to be. In fact, over 88% of candidates reported that having a flexible schedule was one of the most attractive factors when considering a job. People want to have a work-life balance, so they are not too stressed at the office, and they have time to care for their loved ones.

Flexible schedules could mean split shifts where an employee comes in a few hours in the morning and then returns later that evening. It could also entail a modified week where employees work four 10-hour days and have a three-day weekend. With either of these routines, people can schedule their appointments or set a predetermined day to spend with family. This schedule could also help the company: when employees know that management trusts them to work flexible hours, they can also be more productive.

The opportunity to work remotely for at least half of the week excites about 63% of applicants because it lets them skip a costly commute, save money on clothes, and allows the chance to work from the comfort of their own home. Providing this opportunity creates a feeling of trust between the employer and the employee and can also increase productivity and improve their health. Again, this benefit is a win-win for the company as it cuts costs on office space, utilities, and equipment.

Health Plans

These days, health insurance is more important than ever. When a company provides affordable, comprehensive, and easily accessible health insurance, they show that they genuinely care about the health of their workers, and potential candidates see that. In some cases, the only place that a person can afford health insurance is at their job, so it makes a big difference. 

A good health insurance plan shouldn’t drain the paycheck and should offer plenty of options and plans from which to choose. Great health plans will have a soft spot for pre-existing conditions. So if a warehouse worker had a bad back and wanted to go to a new job, they would want to know that if they were injured again, they would still be covered with the health plan, or at least under workers’ compensation insurance

Wellness programs are also great perks and could include complimentary gym memberships, smoking cessation programs, or healthy food or snack options at lunch. Some companies also have a wellness plan built into their health insurance premiums, so if the employee passes regular health assessments, their monthly payment would be lower. This is a unique benefit, so candidates will surely notice if your business includes this perk. The point is showing the potential employee that you genuinely care about their wellbeing.

Benefits for the Future

Getting a new job is no small task, so when people look for a place to work, they want a company that they can stay with for the foreseeable future. They also know that life happens, and things can change as the years go by. A company with great benefits understands this idea. If they offer perks that encourage employees to live their lives to the fullest, then the employee will appreciate the business even more. 

For instance, companies that offer extended paid time-off programs give the employee the impression that they are free to live a life outside of work. The time off also provides the employee the chance to refresh so they can return to the job more focused and productive. Your business should also offer a minimum of six weeks of paid family or paternal leave for both mothers and fathers. Again, this gives the impression that your company cares about their outside life and offers parents a chance to cherish their children, so they are happy when they return to work. 

A good retirement plan shows the candidate that you are hoping to retain and mold them at your company for the rest of their working career and people like that kind of job security. Retirement plans might include a pension plan or a 401k with an employer match. Some of the more highly ranked 401k plans include an incentive like a 6% match after the employee puts in 1% of their income or matching 100% of their first 6% of contributions. Companies that want to draw in more talent for the long term should highly consider such options. 

In the end, a company that genuinely values its employees will stand the test of time. People want to know that they are not working for a faceless organization, but instead, a business that truly appreciates its top talent. Incorporate these benefits now, and you could see an uptick in quality candidates.

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What Technologies Might Replace Human Resource Professionals?

One recurring concern surrounding technology in the workplace is the potential replacement of living workers. In fact, this concern has been with us since the industrial revolution, with the introduction of factory machinery even prompting the formation of Luddite groups in opposition. Today we’re unlikely to respond in quite the same violent manner, but we are nonetheless wary of how machinery might make us obsolete.

Over the past few decades, we have witnessed a steep uptick in technological advancement and its introduction into the workplace, from robotics in manufacturing to artificial intelligence (AI) in diagnostic medicine. However, while some traditional tasks have been replaced by technological methods, machines are more likely to be used to support human talent rather than replace it. New technology has also shown potential for creating roles in entirely new industries.

The ebb and flow of labor due to change is well understood by those who specialize in human resource departments. But how could greater reliance upon tech impact the careers of HR professionals, themselves? Is there any cause for concern, and what opportunities might be presented?

Remote Teams

Remote work has proven something of a double-edged sword for some businesses. On one hand, technology has advanced to the point where we can employ a worldwide talent pool, yet we can’t always replicate the benefits evident in physical teams. While the trends lean toward remote workers primarily being used for project teams, 52% of companies that use virtual teams use this method in employing upper management, too. This tech advancement presents challenges for HR.

In this example, there is not a huge concern that remote technology might replace HR professionals. Rather, it is more likely to result in shifts in what is required and expected of those who take on these roles. There will be a need for HR professionals to understand how technology can enhance the hiring process — from utilizing artificial intelligence to narrow down potential candidates, to how best to use video conferencing during the interview process. What’s more, there may be an increased reliance on cloud services to track data and forms for all the remote employees, leading to a higher likelihood of data loss if members of HR are not up-to-date on their tech training.

It could also become necessary for HR professionals to gain a deeper understanding of company projects in order to best understand how to support individual teams and team members, especially when it comes to the nuances of hiring remote employees. In essence, this is an issue of leadership.

Nursing in the healthcare industry provides a useful illustration on this subject. Specifically, there is an emphasis on the need for transformational leaders who understand the technology being utilized and how it affects the holistic operation within work environments. Similarly, HR professionals need to grasp how remote employees best operate in order to provide services which have a beneficial impact on the entire company.

Training and Development

It is perhaps more helpful to look at the implementation of HR technology as a way to lighten the load of day-to-day duties, rather than a threat to the sector. One of the ways in which we are already starting to see digital platforms becoming useful is in learning and development. This is particularly important in businesses where L&D and HR roles are combined.

Educational technology (EdTech) has been useful in reducing the need for a dedicated staff member to be present during every aspect of training, for example. While HR and L&D professionals may need to become savvier in the initial building and ongoing maintenance of training programs to be delivered via EdTech platforms, once designed, there is relatively little need for supervision, and the in-person aspects of the course can be scheduled for convenience.

Thankfully, this is already in line with how most employees prefer to work. Millennial HR professionals will likely already be comfortable utilizing technology in various aspects of their work, and studies show that employees, in general, are keen to improve their digital skills. This bodes well for advanced technology that HR workers may need to introduce into training scenarios, including the rising popularity of virtual reality (VR) in corporate learning spaces.

Closer Human and Technology Relationship

One of the ways in which it’s important to look at technology’s role in any industry is through the lens of collaboration. Rather than simple replacement, elements of technology could prove to boost HR professionals in their daily responsibilities — enhancements that allow them to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently.

Combining technology with our bodies might seem like a drastic step straight out of a sci-fi novel, but it may also hold the key to more efficient working practices. Biohacking is, in essence, a method through which we can use scientific knowledge and equipment to better understand and utilize our bodily processes, including augmentation to optimize our bodies and brains in order to achieve our full potential. The success of any business often relies upon the productivity of its staff members, after all — so is it beyond the realm of possibility that HR professionals could develop expertise in this area which could help make themselves and staff more effective in their roles?

We’re not quite at the stage where chips are being implanted into brains, but biohacking isn’t just about hardware. Technology could be implemented to keep HR professionals and staff in routines that are beneficial to their health and productivity, too. Sensors connected through the internet of things could monitor life signs and activities, and recommendations could be made for supplements, or Nootropics, which could enhance cognitive performance. This combination of analysis, scientific knowledge, and augmentation may become part of the HR landscape as part of a generalized employee wellness plan, ensuring not only day-to-day productivity, but also minimizing areas of inefficiency such as sick days.

Conclusion

It may be time to ask fewer questions about whether machines will replace workers, and spend more time discovering how technology can evolve the roles already being performed. For HR professionals, there are exciting opportunities being presented by our rising digital landscape. By understanding how they can best form a collaborative relationship with technology, human resources departments can help give their companies a competitive edge in a constantly changing labor environment.

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5 Ways HR Can Learn from Project Managers

What do the departments of project management and human resources have in common? As it turns out, more than you may expect.

Although it may be news to some, many of the skills needed to manage the various intricate components of a project are the same as those required to hire, promote, and protect the employees of a company. Both positions include juggling a lot of pieces while also providing positive results. Here are five tips that HR personnel can learn from the project management team.

1. Planning

Planning is an essential step for all project managers. As soon as they are faced with a new need or assignment, the first step is to go to the drawing board and think about all possible solutions, and then figure out deadlines for completion, what staffing will be required, and any other additional needs. HR employees must take the same steps when it comes to filling the needs of the company and its assorted departments.

Just like with project management, it is all about defining what success looks like for the current needs and working toward them. How will success be measured? Are you looking to find anyone to fill a vacant position, or are you searching for candidates that can advance and grow with the company? What new positions may be needed in the future? These questions must be answered before the recruiting process can even begin.

2. Avoiding Pitfalls

Because of the complexity and impending deadlines associated with major projects, common pitfalls must be avoided so the process can move along as easily as possible. Some common project pitfalls might include a sudden procedural change or a project member dropping the ball on their personal responsibilities. Project managers must have contingency plans, and so should HR professionals.

Common pitfalls for HR managers might include limited awareness of employee rights, a failure to complete proper paperwork, or limited knowledge of disciplinary procedures. A major concern would be the loss of an employee from a team that is already understaffed. Plans must be created before potential pitfalls cause issues for your business. Create organizational charts and introduce training classes that ensure that every individual in your HR department is fully trained on their responsibilities, so all bases are covered.

3. Collaboration

Since a project manager is working with so many separate parts that are handled by an army of team members, there must be a good system of collaboration. Project managers need to understand that they don’t know it all and that their team should be involved in the planning process. This is the same in the HR department.

There are a variety of responsibilities within the human resources team, from employee relations and benefits to payroll and hiring. The trick is to work as one fluid group to ensure that the proper employees are hired, that they have all the necessary benefits and signed paperwork, and that they end up becoming a happy and productive member of the team. To achieve this balance, proper communication is necessary, so have a meeting with all staff members where a consensus can be reached for creating the best system of collaboration.

It is also essential for human resources staff to communicate effectively with the supervisors of each team in their business so they can know what needs are necessary. Managers should always have the ability to reach out to HR for important employee matters. Additionally, HR should also have an open-door policy for employees who have personal concerns.

4. Tracking

The job of a project manager is not one filled with rest and relaxation. Instead, constant attention is needed for projects that are often complex in nature. The only way for one person to take control of the chaos is with an effective tracking system that accounts for the movement of each team member, including what has been completed and what is still pending.

Human resources also involves many moving parts, and luckily, there are systems available for better employee management. When it comes to hiring, applicant tracking systems can provide stability as they keep track of current applicants, rank them in terms of ability to do the job, and ensure that all paperwork is presented. For current employees, you can take advantage of personnel tracking software that tracks employee paperwork, tax information, and certifications, among other important records.

5. Managing Personality Types

When project managers assemble their team, they understand that even though everyone comprehends the main goal of the project, every member of the team is not the same. Each employee has their own processes, motivations, and work ethic. Still, the manager must be able to understand these traits so they can bring out the best in every member.

Similarly, in human resources, the goal is to keep employees content. The employees of your company also have different motivations and levels of success that they want to achieve. It is important to work to those traits and promote those who deserve the opportunity. Employees also have different motivators. Some may be happy with a monthly bonus, while others prefer a fixed schedule. It is the job of HR to understand the core of each worker.

Yes, the HR and project management teams have much in common, and the professionals who best harness these skills will see the most success. Adding these traits will lead to happier employees in both arenas.

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Prioritizing Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health was once a sensitive topic that people avoided discussing. Now, it is being perceived more as an elephant in the room that cannot be avoided, especially in the workplace. Thanks to research and awareness, organizations are realizing that mental health and employee productivity are interconnected, and topics should be discussed as such. With this realization, there is more discussion happening amongst supervisors and business owners alike on how workplace environments can improve, so that employee’s mental health can thrive.

The financial implications of mental health and substance abuse amongst employees and in the workplace costs employers between $79 and $105 billion annually, according to the Center for Prevention and Health. The bottom line is that prioritizing mental health in the workplace has more benefits than it does disadvantages, including financially. If you need tips regarding how to go about it, continue reading below.

Look for Ways to Address Anxiety

Doing what you can to help ease anxiety at work is a way to prioritize mental health. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found that American employees are most likely to report anxiety symptoms and use prescription medication. It also found that 28% have had an anxiety or panic attack at some point. Although you can’t manage their anxiety for them, you can create a more relaxing environment and reduce potential triggers to ensure a safe and calm workspace to be productive in.

Examples of stressors that could be triggering employees are deadlines, conflicts with employees, high expectations, and a lack of work-life balance. Not only can they increase anxiety symptoms, but it could result in reduced productivity.

To counter the effects of anxiety in the workplace, consider creating more flexibility when it comes to deadlines and encouraging better work-life balance for your employees. This could include outsourcing work in departments that are overburdened, as well as allowing flexible working arrangements, like the option to work remotely or to be flexible in individual work schedules. Another idea would be to regularly assess the needs of employees in both public and private meetings, and, most importantly, to take complaints seriously when they arise.

Implement Changes to Your Policy

You may need to introduce new business practices if you want to see long-lasting changes, especially when it comes to improving mental health environments in the workplace. In fact, only 40% of employees prioritize wellbeing in their benefits strategy, which is a missed opportunity for employers to ensure their employees are having their mental health taken care of. With this realization, consider updating company policies so they better encourage a healthier workplace for all employees, both physically, mentally, and emotionally.

To begin the journey of changing the atmosphere surrounding mental health, consider holding department meetings where you both outline the steps that will be taken to make changes, while also encouraging people to speak up and offer their own suggestions for improvement. These changes could be numerous, but should be implemented over time instead of all at once. An example of a simple introduction could be a policy that all employees must leave the office by 6 PM. Enforcement could include supporting employees who feel like they are falling behind so that they don’t have to stay long after normal hours, offering flexible working conditions, and closing up the office at the same time every evening and leaving in a group.

Making it mandatory that all managers have mental health training is another example of a policy that could work. The more knowledgeable they are on mental health challenges, the more support they can offer employees who work under them. It could also help eliminate the stigma around mental health and make employees feel more comfortable discussing their concerns with managers or HR. The idea should be to see how you can make changes at a policy level so that mental health is ingrained into your business values and practices, so that employees never question where the company or department stands. Doing this will not only help present employees, but could also help attract future employees, all while building a more supportive workplace.

Consider Emotional Support Dogs

Emotional support is a tangible way of helping employees and making them feel like more than a dollar sign. Updating policies to allow for emotional support animals in addition to service animals in the office is an option to explore. A single designated office dog could be another means to help with stress management, as dogs are proven to help reduce stress.

Simply petting a dog is said to increase oxytocin levels and reduce cortisol. A 2012 study that looked at how an office dog affects stress levels also found that those who brought their dogs to work found their stress levels declining throughout the course of the day. Other benefits of having a dog are increased productivity due to having to take your dog out for walks and creating more meaningful interactions with co-workers.

Having said that, for the sake of balance, acknowledging the cons of bringing a dog to work is important, too. Two core challenges you may face are dog behavior and the inconvenience it causes for those with dog allergies. You could bypass this issue by eliminating in-person contact. A way to do this would be by having employees who are allergic to dogs work in different parts of the building, giving them an enclosed work space, or allowing flexible working hours.

Provide Information and Resources

As mentioned earlier, you cannot resolve all of your employee’s mental health issues yourself, but you can provide support. Giving them information and resources that educate them on how to manage their mental health on their own could make them feel supported and build their resilience in the process.

For instance, to help them reduce anxiety and stress in and outside of the workplace, you could do a monthly training or workshop on stress management. You could also give them worksheets that they can refer back to when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Another idea would be to give them access to discounted or free gym memberships, encouraging them to exercise, which can be a great stress reliever too.

Aside from giving employees the resources they need to empower themselves, consider providing an EAP benefit. This gives employees access to a handful of free therapy sessions which could do wonders for their mental health. Having a professional to confide in could improve their wellbeing in the long run as therapy can help manage conditions like anxiety and depression as well as help improve relationships. Not having to worry about the cost may also be more of an incentive for them to take up the offer.

If you want reduced absent rates and a greater level of productivity, prioritizing mental health is one of many solutions. The above suggestions could also help you improve the mental health and wellbeing of your employees, which in turn, could result in a more vibrant business.

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