The Importance of Prioritizing Employee Health

For a company to thrive, it must have a healthy workforce. When employees know that their employer has their best interests at heart, they will feel more motivated to do their part and help their company succeed. With the arrival of COVID-19, the health of your employees is even more imperative today than ever before.

 

Employee health is more than avoiding slips and falls. It means having policies in place that encourage a healthy body and mind, and your human resources team can provide that support. Let’s look at the benefits of employee health and how to get the desired results.

Healthy Employees are Productive Employees

Prioritizing employee health is important not only because folks should feel secure coming to work each day, but also because healthy employees are also productive employees. In general, the happier the employee, the more motivated they will be, and that goes for companies of all types. Even industries as diverse as shipping and trucking are utilizing driver scorecards to view attributes like excessive braking and speeding, and the drivers use this information to try to improve their performance so they drive more efficiently. This change also saves the company money on fuel costs and reduces employee stress.   

 

There are many initiatives that you can make around the office to promote health and productivity. One of them is offering healthy food choices in the break and lunchrooms. In general, employees who eat better often have more energy and improved concentration throughout the day. Not to mention that healthy employees will also call out sick less often.

 

Then there are the positive results associated with exercising in the morning or during lunch. According to studies, those who exercise at least three days per week are 15% more likely to have increased job performance. Consider implementing a wellness program that includes nutrition education, exercise programs, and information for weight loss systems that the employees can access freely.

Don’t Forget Mental Health

While physical dangers are always lurking, it is essential to not forget the mental health of your employees. You want your workers to enjoy coming to work, so they don’t look for a job elsewhere. More importantly, employees who feel that they are treated unfairly, even to the point of discrimination, can sue your workplace and tarnish your public image.

 

Poor mental health can manifest itself in many ways. Some employees may feel sad or lonely while they are at work, which can happen if they feel that they are just cogs in the machine without that human interaction that we all require to thrive. Lonely employees also impact your business as those who are truly unhappy generally call out sick twice as often as happier employees. To encourage a sense of community, consider hosting team-building exercises in the office, or even engage in a larger project like volunteering at a soup kitchen to really enforce that this office is also a family.

 

Human Resources should have an open-door policy and encourage employees to come to them when they are feeling mentally drained. When they do, offer information based on their needs, especially if your company does not offer a health insurance program, or your employees don’t qualify for one. For instance, employees with Medicare may have access to medication or psychiatry appointments that can help them get back on the right track. To all employees, you can also recommend tech solutions like smartphone apps that can help mitigate stress and provide breathing exercises when things are getting a little hard to handle.

Safety During COVID-19

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, which is the novel coronavirus, and how businesses must adapt to keep their employees from getting infected. First, be open with your employees and tell them to go to HR if they feel that they are getting sick so they can be sent home until they get better. Temperature screenings at all entrances will not only give you an indicator that someone is ill but will also give other employees the sense that their employer cares about their health.

 

On top of that, companies should follow CDC guidelines as they apply to limiting exposure to COVID-19. Social distancing protocols are heavily favored by the CDC with the recommendation to keep people six feet apart. If you have an office with a cubicle layout, your employees may already be separated. However, if you work in a warehouse or overcrowded office where people are generally on top of each other, then you may have to consider making new work shifts where employees come at different times to avoid overcrowding.

 

Also, make an effort to provide the clean and sanitized atmosphere that you and your employers deserve. This may involve hiring a larger cleaning crew that can come in each night and sanitize all desks and refill all soap and hand sanitizer stations, so employees are always able to stay as germ-free as possible. If you have a good employee that just doesn’t feel safe coming to the office, consider the possibility of remote work as a potential solution. 

 

Since our employees are what keeps our businesses going strong, we must keep them as the top priority. Implement some easy safety strategies today, and you could have happier employees tomorrow. 

How To Ensure Your Employees Are Treated Equally and Fairly

 

 

We often hear a lot about the importance of equality in the workplace. Equal treatment, equal pay, equal opportunities for advancement are all vital to the continued success of not just an employee, but for a business as a whole. However, many employees are also looking to be treated fairly, opening up the discussion of equality in the workplace even further. While fairness and equality might appear to be the same thing, they’re distinctively different and it’s important that companies strive for both at every level of their organization.

 

As managers, leaders, and HR staff, this means employees are expecting you to make the workplace environment one where the office policies are clearly stated and applied equally and fairly across the board. They also expect changes to be made if an individual or group is being treated unfairly. This is especially important as the world has finally started being more aware of what Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)  are forced to deal with at their place of work on a day to day basis.

 

So, how can companies and leaders ensure that their policies are not only providing opportunities for equality, but also fairness?

Equality Isn’t Always Fair

Equality is not always the same as fairness. Equality, while important, can leave out factors that contribute to an employee’s role within the company. Being fair involves considering all of the circumstances and making appropriate decisions based on those circumstances. Employees’ needs differ depending on their circumstances and equality can often leave out specific needs. Equality is like supplying every employee a work laptop, fairness is giving a visually-impaired employee a laptop with braille.

Always Be Prepared for Change

Every employee, wherever they work, wants to be shown by their employer that they’re valuable, their opinions and ideas matter and that they have equal opportunities for professional development and growth. This means that issues such as favoritism in the workplace can wreak havoc on employee morale and can breed resentment toward the company which is another reason why it’s important to treat all employees fairly in the workplace

 

It’s not only important to have policies that promote fairness and equality regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, and age, but it’s imperative to enforce those policies equally too. Taking a look at current policies and identifying where improvement is needed is one way to make favoritism less likely to occur. Are there any rules that favor a particular group of employees over the other? Are all employees aware of the company’s rules and policies, including disciplinary actions? Is there any room for questions or different interpretations within the company’s handbook? It’s also necessary to look at who is being hired and who is most affected by injury, job loss, and discrimination within the company. 

 

Being a fair manager means that “When you treat your employees fairly they focus on navigating the challenges in front of them. They feel respected, cared for, and they develop trust in you as a manager. Instead of focusing on gamesmanship or one-upmanship, employees focus on working towards individual and group goals.” When employees are respected and treated fairly, the whole company is often able to operate as a cohesive team with equal responsibilities and better communication. Moreover, fairness and equality not only contributes to better meeting these needs but can also protect vulnerable groups from getting injured on the job. 

 

While certain fields of work are more labor-intensive and thus have more opportunities for severe injuries to occur, it isn’t just the kind of work that is harmful. Oftentimes, there is an unequal amount of pressure to work in unsafe conditions, especially for Hispanic workers and other minorities. When the work environment and policies are centered around equality and fairness, employees are not only likely to be more productive and have higher morale but it can help protect workers from injury. 

Fairness Benefits Everyone

Working towards maintaining a fair and equal work environment is also vital to a business’s clients. Cultural diversity in the workplace not only benefits the company and its employees, but it could potentially save lives. For example, while discussing the dangers of a lack of representation, particularly in healthcare, some professionals explain that “A lack of cultural diversity in healthcare can lead to many problems, including stereotyping and unequal patient treatment — particularly in cases where cultural differences in healthcare expectations lead to poor patient outcomes. Indeed, negative results are arguably inevitable when there is an underrepresentation of cultural and ethnic diversity in leadership and throughout training.” 

 

Cultural diversity can be hard to achieve when a manager is constantly undermining, discriminating against, or holding BIPOC to a different standard than the other employees. A business is likely to have a higher turnover rate if its employees believe they are being treated unfairly. This can also lead to new talent avoiding the company for fear of discrimination. Businesses with such a lack of diversity are likely to suffer losses financially and, in certain fields such as healthcare, could be putting their clients at risk.  

 

One way to ensure that employees are treated fairly is ingraining that importance into the company culture. Make it something so valuable that the company, managers, leaders, and employees are always striving for fairness and equality. This will make the work environment a more welcoming place to report and discuss areas of discrimination or unequal treatment. It will also encourage employees to voice their opinions more to help further improve policies and practices. 

 

It’s never too late to start enacting change that will help ensure employees are being treated both equally and fairly. Having an open, ongoing dialogue on how to improve company policies and how leadership can deliver said policies appropriately can help businesses stay committed to being a welcoming, equal, and fair place for everyone.  

Tips for Reopening Your Business in the Wake of COVID-19

Employee safety in the wake of COVID-19 is more of an issue than ever before. With the concerns of the pandemic atop the economic difficulties of reopening a business or starting a new one, human resources now means giving employees and coworkers the tools to stay safe and maintain social distancing.

 

No matter the challenges, you can create an office space that is safe, sustainable, and functional. All it takes are the right steps and tools to help you open or reopen your workplace post-coronavirus. 

 

Here are five tips for reopening your business safely and successfully:

#1: Write or Rewrite Your Business Plan

Whether you are planning to start a business fresh or are restarting after COVID-19 shutdowns, the pandemic has changed many factors. Reconsider how you’ll conduct business and employee procedures from the ground up. This means reworking your business plan. 

 

A business plan can include everything from long-term goals to the structure of day-to-day procedures. The most important factor involved in the business plan are the financials. From a value proposition to financial projections, the state of the pandemic economy has likely affected your plans. Rework your business plan when starting or restarting a business to set clear and updated expectations for yourself, your employees, or your investors. 

 

#2: Calculate the Costs

 

Successfully restarting a business after the pandemic comes down to a realistic calculation of the costs involved. Take inventory of all expected expenses that come with returning to an office space, potentially onboarding new employees, and restructuring for social distancing.

 

Use a helpful budgeting tool to take inventory and calculate these costs. Mobile apps and digital tools help you keep track of all expenses on the go as you work out a realistic cost analysis.

 

Take advantage of the mobility and flexibility offered by budgeting apps as you consider the costs surrounding reopening maintenance, furnishings, equipment, personnel, and so much more. 

 

#3: Factor in Reopening Procedures

 

With a physical office location, you need to take into account the maintenance procedures that will be required before moving employees back to the office. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list the dangers of a dormant building, citing the risk of mold and Legionella. Prevent problems by taking the proper steps when returning to the office. 

 

Start by developing a plan for water management and ensure that the water heater in your building is functioning properly. Then, flush your water lines with hot and cold water. This is vital in killing Legionella growth and replacing all water in the building’s piping with fresh, clean water. 

 

Follow up with ensuring that all water storage and maintenance systems like cooling towers, sprinkler systems, and eye wash stations are clean and functional. Finally, disinfect all water fountains and features.

 

There are costs associated with these necessary procedures that you’ll need to prepare for and document, but completing them helps guarantee employee safety. 

#4: Redesign Your Space

Your original office layout likely isn’t up to the standards of a post-COVID social distancing world. This means a redesign of your workspace, including areas you might not have considered. Not only should the office layout be managed to maintain a distance of six feet between employees, rooms, and walkways that typically saw more traffic should be adjusted for the new normal.

 

Create indicators in hallways and bathrooms to maintain one-way traffic or individual use so that your coworkers aren’t in close quarters when they don’t have to be. Breakroom furniture and layouts should be adjusted to accommodate fewer individuals at a time. Sanitization stations and equipment should be accessible and neatly organized.

 

A comprehensive redesign will allow the members of your team to keep a safe distance while maintaining functionality but take the opportunity to have fun with your work environment. Consider redecorating with sustainable decor. Add some plants. Integrate color. Create a fun, thriving workplace despite the added anxiety of social distancing rules that will help your employees and coworkers adjust to the new normal. 

#5: Focus on Employee Safety

First and foremost should always be the safety of those working in an office. Consider measures you can implement to enhance employee safety and combat the pandemic. 

 

There are many different strategies you can integrate into your redesigned business plan; here are just a few ideas:

 

  • Contract healthcare professionals to monitor temperatures of those entering the building
  • Educate and be consistent on proper facemask procedures
  • Provide sanitizing equipment and individual office supplies to reduce sharing
  • Limit the number of employees on break and in shared spaces at any given time
  • Allow able employees to work from home
  • Integrate smart solutions for visitor monitoring and employee security

 

Start with your broad business plan and narrow it to specific ways you can maintain employee safety. In the wake of COVID-19, businesses need to implement every policy they can for team member comfort and morale. These are but a few suggestions for a safer future. 

 

By following these strategies to redesign your business before opening or reopening, you will provide your team with a safe office environment with the resources they need to be successful. 

 

Comprehensive Health & Wellness Strategies for the Workplace

Creating a healthy work environment requires more than addressing physical health factors. While workplace benefits such as an onsite exercise facility, ergonomic office furniture, or a cafeteria offering nutritious meals and snacks are always welcome and appreciated by employees, mental wellbeing should also be considered. 

 

A stressful or contentious work environment can lead to employee burnout, lower productivity, and a higher rate of turnover. Creating an environment that promotes mental and physical wellbeing can increase teamwork and cooperation among staff, improving your company’s chances of long-term success. 

 

Consider the following concepts and how they can be applied in your workplace:

More Stress Leads to More Sick Days

It’s widely accepted that prolonged stress can cause illness. A stress-filled work environment promotes a general sense of unease and dissatisfaction that could lead to illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and asthma. 

 

A study found that 93% of business leaders reported that employee health has a significant impact on productivity. Chronic stress in the workplace affects productivity as employees take sick days to seek treatment and recover from their medical ailments. The same study shared that wellness programs reduce employee sick leaves by 25%. 

 

There are many actions your company can take to reduce stress for better health and workplace productivity. As mentioned, employees respond well to health and wellness benefits like healthier food choices in the cafeteria or an on-site gym. If your company doesn’t have space or resources to provide those, consider implementing one or more of the following smaller-scale wellness offerings to improve mental (and physical) health:

 

  • Workplace counseling for employees under pressure.
  • Weekly yoga classes in a conference room or break area.
  • Seasonal flu shots.
  • Gym membership discounts.
  • Group weight loss programs.
  • Break room alternatives to black coffee such as green tea and juices.
  • Stress-management education.

Reduce Conflict by Setting and Enforcing Boundaries

Most employees nowadays use computers to work online. Computers simplify many tasks to save employees time, but they can be a double-edged sword. Employees are at risk of having their personal privacy boundaries violated, leading to anxiety and stress. Some examples could include harassment of their professional presence on social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Or their identity or personal details are stolen because of computer viruses or phishing scams.

 

Although we’re talking about the workplace environment, employees often blur the line between personal internet use and work internet use. Employees may log in from work to their online banking page to confirm they’ve been paid. Or use their own email address to send and receive work-related emails. Therefore cybersecurity in the workplace is not only critical to safeguarding your company’s data but the privacy details of your employees as well.

 

Besides viruses and malware that spy on your staff’s computer activities and could compromise your network, social engineering attacks are on the rise. Phishing is the most common, where a fraudster impersonates a well-known company to build trust and steal information from an individual. An example of phishing involves an email from your bank warning you of a security breach and asking you to click on the link to verify your identity. The webpage looks like your bank’s website but asks for personal information such as your account number, login, home address, and other information. Upon closer inspection, you may notice the email and website were fake copies of an authentic company.

 

To protect your company and employees from cyber privacy issues and attacks, make sure all computers and email programs are running comprehensive, up-to-date antivirus software. Consider implementing an online fraud awareness program to train all staff on online dangers and how they can protect their private information, as well as the company’s.

Improving Employee Relations and Teamwork Enhances Wellbeing

Any conflict between management and/or coworkers can create palpable tension. Implementing activities that improve employee relations and encourage collaboration could enhance the overall sense of workplace wellbeing while boosting productivity. When staff feel united and working towards a common goal, problem-solving, and finding creative solutions and methods towards goals is much easier. The following three ideas may help bring your team closer together:

1. Organize Regular Informal Social Events Where Staff can Get to Know Each Other

Mixers, dinner nights, or team-building activities such as a weekend sport can break the ice between employees and allow them the opportunity to get to know each other away from the workplace. They may better connect as they discuss their shared challenges at work, leading to more understanding.

2. Train Leadership to not Micromanage

One of the biggest company challenges to solve is a culture of micro-management. Some people naturally feel the need to control. But the behavior can be detrimental in a work environment. The issue is complex and may require outside help from a consultant so that executives and support staff can better work together.

3. Use Project Management Tools

To enhance collaboration, consider implementing a project management tool. They can provide transparency so that the whole team is up to date on what’s happening in a project. Deadlines and tasks can be assigned between members. Idea sharing and polls are a natural part of the process as members can tag each other or leave ideas open for comments and suggestions. Popular project management tools include Basecamp, Asana, and Trello.

Conclusion

Employees are a company’s greatest asset. Providing a healthy work environment and the tools to manage their mental health is worth the investment. The returns are greater than what you invest and include years of commitment to your company and productivity from their efforts. 

Benefits of Transitioning to a Remote Workforce

Remote working has increased greatly in popularity over the last few years. There was a 159% increase in remote workers between 2005-2017, and today 4.3 million people in the U.S. work remotely at least half the time.

 

It may have already been a rising trend, but the coronavirus pandemic has made remote working a reality for millions of employees across the country. Some of those workers may remain in their remote positions while others will eventually go back to a traditional working environment. Either way, it can be more challenging for some to work from home than others. 


As a business owner, it’s important to understand some of the pros and cons of remote work from the standpoint of your employees, as well as how it will impact your success. So, how can you help your employees transition to a remote workforce, and how can you keep both motivation and morale high even in uncertain times, when you’re not able to directly connect? 

The Pros and Cons of Remote Working

Remote working has many benefits for both businesses and workers. Though you might think your employees would be less productive at home, research has shown that 77% of employees are actually more productive when they’re working remotely. As an employer, some of the biggest benefits your business can gain from letting your employees work from home include: 

 

  • Increased retention
  • Less interpersonal conflict
  • More transparency
  • A lesser need for a large physical space
  • Attract better talent

 

For employees, the benefits include flexibility, freedom, and a customizable space to get work done. 

 

Many people benefit from working remotely because it helps to reduce their stress levels. Employees that are unhappy or stressed are less likely to be productive. Yet, 25% of workers cite their job as their number one source of stress. By allowing employees to work remotely, you’re showing that you’re invested in their long-term health and care about their mental and emotional wellbeing. 

Encouraging a Work-Life Balance

Speaking of mental health, one of the biggest challenges for remote workers is finding a work-life balance at home. It’s far too easy for someone to wake up whenever they want, shuffle to the couch, grab their computer, and try to “work” while watching television. While that might sound relaxing, it isn’t exactly productive or effective. 

 

A stable work-life balance is just as important for remote workers as it is for anyone who works in an office. 

 

One of the best ways to encourage a better balance is to have a separate office space or workspace from the rest of the home. The beauty of being able to do that is that employees who work from home can set up their office spaces in such a way that boosts their own creativity and productivity. Family members within the home should know that designated space is off-limits and distractions need to be limited throughout the day to keep work from bleeding into their personal lives. 

 

If you’re trying to make the transition to working at home, yourself, another great solution is to keep a normal routine. Wake up with an alarm and go over the same routine you would if you had to go into an office. Set normal working hours through the day, give yourself breaks, and “quit” working at a certain time each day. It’s easy to get distracted at home, so limit those distractions as much as possible by unplugging from unnecessary devices and keeping yourself as focused as possible. 

How Can Businesses Benefit?

There are a few challenges your business may face in utilizing more remote workers, including: 

 

  • Communication
  • Performance tracking
  • Security

 

Thankfully, technology has stepped in to combat most of these issues. For example, Zoom has added over 2 million users so far this year, largely due to more people working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. But programs like Zoom and Slack are making it easier for employees and employers to connect on a regular basis without having to get together in person. 

 

In many businesses, the pros tend to outweigh the cons when it comes to encouraging remote work. Not only will your company cut down on costs, but companies who allow employees to work remotely have a 25% lower turnover rate than those that don’t. You’ll attract new employees, retain your best ones, and boost productivity all at once. 

 

If your business hasn’t yet jumped on board with the idea of remote working, this might be the perfect time to see just how impactful it can be and how both your business and your employees might benefit from making such a transition. It can take some time for everyone to get used to, but knowing how to make the change fluidly and efficiently can improve your employees’ mental health and boost your business all at once. 

 

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.