Why You Should Invest in Personal Finance Training for Your Employees

Personal finance and budgeting play a role in everyone’s life. It’s no secret that your ability to wisely allocate financial resources has a significant impact on your quality of life. 

Unfortunately, most individuals — including your employees  — are probably not as financially capable as they ought to be. High schools and colleges have stopped making financial literacy a requirement to graduate, and so many individuals are completely unaware of personal finance basics of personal finances. 

At this point, you might be wondering why you, as an employer or someone in HR, should care about this. Why should it matter to you that employees can successfully manage their finances? Well, here are just some of the reasons why you should invest (or advocate that your business invest) in personal finance training for employees:

Less Stress, Higher Productivity

For one, stress as a result of personal financial mismanagement is a common problem of the workforce today, resulting in lower rates of productivity and ultimately affecting a company’s bottom line. About 68% of employees are not fully engaged at work, and much of this can be attributed to financial stress. 

This is backed up by Dr. Thomas Garman, a Virginia Tech professor, who states, “Workers waste 20 hours of company time a month thinking about and dealing with personal finances.” Further, 40% of employees have even openly admitted that personal stress greatly affects their productivity at work.

With these figures in mind, teaching your employees about personal finance management can only be a win-win. Most employee learning takes place during work hours, so it makes sense to offer opportunities for employees to learn more about personal finances. In return, they will get rid of financial stress and become more productive. 

Retain Top Talent

Providing a benefit like personal finance training for employees can also help you attract and retain top talent. In fact, a Society for Human Resources study found that “employees are looking to their employers for help with managing their financial wellness.” Today, with the rise of the gig economy, many workers are able to control their work hours and get paid for extra time on the clock. Given the fact that the gig economy as a whole can offer more pay, this provides the means for employees to feel financially secure while also attracting top talent. 

Jobs as part of the gig economy rarely come with benefits, so including personal finance training in your benefits package gives yourself an edge when it comes to recruiting talent. Thus, including financial wellness training as a part of an employee’s benefits package can yield positive results. This is a great way for a company to demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of those they employ.

Ripple Effect on Society

An often-overlooked advantage of providing finance training for your employees is the ripple effect it can have. Giving employees this information enables them to spread financial best practices to friends and family, ultimately improving the well-being of those around them. While this may not immediately and directly benefit your company, it does create for a more financially stable community in the long-run. In turn, this new, more skilled society will help your business’ bottom line. 

These are just a few of the reasons you should consider financial training benefits for your employees. As you can see, alongside enhancing employees’ lives, your company stands to benefit greatly from this inclusion. The best part is that personal finance training programs are actually quite easy to implement. Here are some tactics to consider: 

Give a Financial Self-Assessment 

The first step in promoting the financial wellness of your employees is gauging how much they know about personal money management. People often struggle with planning their finances because they neglect (or intentionally avoid) thinking about them critically. As a result, they are unable to adequately plan for the future.

A financial self-assessment solves this problem and allows for both managers and employees to learn about their personal financial capabilities. Once this is done, your employees can identify pain points in their financial planning and take the appropriate steps to make changes. There are many free financial assessment quizzes available online that you can hand out to your employees. A good starting point for a personal finance self-assessment can be found at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.

Offer Classes/Training Seminars 

Fixed classes or seminars are effective ways of teaching financial wellness on an ongoing basis. You could devote one hour a week to a training seminar where employees could be given the chance to hear from various experts and financial planning. Each seminar could cover a different topic under the umbrella of personal financial wellness, including how to improve and maintain good credit, how to pay off credit card debt, how to plan for retirement and a child’s education, how to invest, and more. 

Even if you aren’t in the position to host seminars, you could consider giving your employees the option to enroll in online money management classes and cover the cost. Alternatively, you could offer premium access to sites like SkillShare or Udemy that offer classes from experts across a range of topics. 

Provide Budgeting Tools

Budgeting is key to personal finance management. Make sure your employees know basic budgeting skills — you could even start with the “give, save, and spend” concept that is used to teach children about money. From there, teach employees about the principles of setting up a household budget such as identifying income, tracking spending, and determining goals. You could also keep an eye out for financial tools that could help your employees. These include free retirement planning tools, investing tools, budgeting apps, and more. 

Spread Awareness About Cost-Effective Options

Another initiative that is easy to implement is spreading awareness about resources that outline how to get the most cost-effective services. Choosing cost-effective options can increase savings and aid money management efforts. One way to do so is to teach employees how to evaluate various deals for everyday services through a monthly email newsletter. 

For instance, you could send out a newsletter that details how to pick the best internet deal for one’s home, covering pointers like looking for plans in the “Back to School” period in August. The following month you could send out a newsletter about how to pick the best car insurance, and what to consider when choosing one. Spreading awareness about ongoing deals that you have researched, as well as knowledge about how to choose cost-effective options is a good way to educate employees about making financially sound decisions. 

Promoting the financial wellness of your employees is a great investment, benefitting both your company and your employees. Use these tips to introduce personal finance training into your employee benefits package to build a more productive and financially savvy workplace.

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ServiceNow Research Assesses Impact of Digital Transformation on Employees

New research from ServiceNowa leading enterprise cloud based provider of digital workflows, reveals employees in EMEA companies, embracing workplace automation, report greater job satisfaction (62%), customer satisfaction (71%) boosted productivity (72%) and increased time for creativity (62%). Two thirds say workplace automation improves their organisation’s financial performance and nearly half believe they benefit from job creation.

EMEA employees express that the rise in digitisation enables them to benefit from automating menial tasks, subsequently improving their opportunities for advancement (64%) and more meaningful work. Yet fewer than one in three (27%) of companies studied (27%) have automated the processes with which they work, leaving over two thirds of work processes with substantial manual activity.

9119 Infographic.indd

Employees worry more about change than fear of machines

There has been much rhetoric around ‘fear of machines’, yet employees studied worry more about change than robots taking their jobs:

  • 31% are concerned about learning new skills or processes and 28% worry about changing the way their job is performed
  • Only 17% worry about losing their job
  • Employees in highly digitised companies report they benefit from increased job creation (42%) as opposed to only 23% in less automated companies (23%)
  • 86% view AI technologies as the future of work
  • Under a fifth (16%) fear being told what to do by a machine

 

Employees have a desire to learn and improve digital skills

  • 66% of employees have a desire to learn or improve their digital skills
  • 15% say their job requires advanced digital skills
  • 75% believe they have the digital skills required to perform their job well
  • Only 18% find adapting to digitised work processes difficult

 

Increased financial success

Employees in ‘highly automated’ organisations are more likely than those with less automated processes to report that their firms have high revenue growth, exceed financial goals and are much more profitable than competitors.

  • 55% of those in highly automated companies see higher profitability than their competitors, compared to only 31% in less automated companies
  • In highly automated companies, 21% see ‘much higher’ profitability vs. 5% for others
  • 36% of highly automated companies report that they exceeded their financial goals compared to just 16% for others

 

“Highly automated companies are making use of digital workflows to simplify complex tasks, respond rapidly to users’ needs and take a predictive approach to maintenance,” says Chris Pope, VP Innovation, ServiceNow. “Automation enables employees to reclaim time spent on unfulfilling tasks and refocus it on more meaningful work. The result is significantly greater efficiency, productivity and job satisfaction compared to companies with more manually-led operations.

“Activities such as resolving customer issues are critical to customer and employee satisfaction, so they should receive more focus from an automation standpoint in the future. The question businesses need to be asking now is how they can make the necessary changes to realise these benefits,” adds Pope.

What HR Can Do to Promote a Healthy Work Environment

Most workspaces present some kind of challenge for an employee’s health. Whether that be too many unhealthy temptations, a job that’s physically demanding, a job that isn’t physical enough, or even one that challenges a person’s mental health, each working environment can do more to prioritize employee health. Not only do healthy employees work better, it’s also beneficial to workplace culture for employees to feel as though their employer cares about their well-being and not just the bottom line. 

In order for HR to promote a healthy work environment, there are a few things they can do. By taking steps that prioritize employee health, employees can go from experiencing wellness challenges to watching their health thrive in the office. 

Be a Source of Health Information

There is a wealth of health information available out there, but it can be difficult to sift through studies, warnings, and updates if you’re not familiar with health news. For this reason, it can be helpful to be a source of health information for employees. You can do this by releasing a health newsletter each month, which can include things like medication news that may impact their health, food and drug recalls, or new CDC research. You might also recruit experts to speak or offer a health fair to allow employees to research wellness options in their area. Include various types of insurance, holistic health services, and mental health physicians as well. This way, you can be a reliable source of health information for your employees. 

Understand Employee Health Gaps

Not every work environment will require the same things to promote health for employees. The key is in identifying employee health gaps and working to provide ways to remedy them. For instance, if your employees sit for a large portion of their work day, promoting a healthy work environment will involve encouraging walking breaks or purchasing standing desks. If your employees have a physically demanding job, promoting a healthy work environment will involve offering rest breaks and comfortable areas for relaxation. 

Both health gaps are damaging to employees’ overall health and wellbeing. In addition to the type of work done, it’s also important to offer support for each employee’s specific health condition by providing what they need to be productive, safe, and fulfilled in the workplace.

Provide Healthy Alternatives

An office environment can be problematic to a person’s health because of all of the unhealthy temptations that can occur. Morning donuts, pizza luncheons, complimentary soda, etc., can all derail a person’s health goals. This doesn’t mean cutting out the bagels and complimentary lunches altogether, it just means you can promote a healthy work environment by offering healthy alternatives as well. 

For instance, some may prefer the health benefits of tea over coffee, so offering both can help employees to stick with their preferred beverage. The same is true for fruit and granola in addition to donuts and bagels, a salad bar in addition to pizza, or low-calorie and no-sugar drinks in addition to soda. 

Promote Exercise and Wellness

Exercise and wellness are staples of health, and promoting them at work can do a lot to create a healthy work environment. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and promote physical and mental health, so providing a benefit like a gym facility or a paid gym membership can go a long way for employee wellness. You might also organize an exercise outing for those who wish to participate, such as a group hike or an employee team for a local 5k. 

This way of promoting a healthy work environment is great for workplace culture, which is great for company reputation as well. You can promote wellness in the office by offering on-site flu shots, organizing a health clinic, providing wearable medical tech, or designating a quiet area for meditation and relaxation to relieve stress. 

Prioritize Mental Health and Safety

Providing a healthy work environment isn’t just about offering healthy snacks and a gym membership, it’s also fostering a work culture that isn’t detrimental to their mental health and an environment dedicated to keeping them safe. Work on promoting a healthy work-life balance by offering PTO, flexible schedules, adequate pay, and the freedom to take time if they are burnt out. Be open about any mental health information employees may need, and make sure any insurance plans include mental health services. 

You might also offer sexual harassment training to ensure all employees understand consent, boundaries, and appropriate behavior in and out of the office. Work hard to make employees feel safe, and establish trust so they feel protected enough to report any incidents if they should occur. 

A healthy work environment should make an employee feel happy, healthy, fulfilled, and safe. It’s impossible to cater to every employee perfectly, but you can reach many of them by providing them with a few resources to help promote a healthier lifestyle. Not only is this better for employee morale and workplace culture, it also works to build better employees who enjoy their jobs and feel more productive. Employees will be happier and healthier overall when you show them that you are invested in and care about their health.

What to Consider Before Implementing a Pet-Friendly Office Policy

If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress in your office and improve employee productivity, adopting a pet-friendly office policy might be the solution. Having dogs in the workplace can encourage employees to interact with each other and may even result in reduced employee absenteeism. Another perk is that a pet-friendly office can even help to recruit millennials

But adopting a pet-friendly office policy is something that needs to be done strategically, since it can also have some downsides. The safety and happiness of both employees and their pets needs to be a priority, and bringing pets into the workplace also creates some legal liabilities that you should be prepared for. 

Options for Employees Who Can’t Be Around Dogs

While many of your employees may love the idea of a pet-friendly office, you’ll need to consider the employees who either can’t or don’t want to be around dogs. According to Square Foot, employees with pet allergies can experience mild to severe symptoms with dogs in the office. The Americans with Disabilities Act recognizes allergies as a disability in some cases, and if your office cannot accommodate the needs of employees with pet allergies, you could be discriminating against an employee with a disability (and breaking the law in the process). 

It’s also important to consider the fact that some employees may be fearful of dogs. Square Foot states that fear of dogs is one of the most common phobias, and bringing dogs into the workplace could create a situation where employees feel unsafe or even are unable to function. 

The layout of your office may allow you to create dog-friendly areas, so employees can avoid dogs if they need to. This solution does risk causing some employees to feel isolated or left out, though. 

Liability Insurance with Pets in the Workplace

Bringing pets into the workplace can increase your company’s liability. If employees or customers are injured by a pet or a pet causes damage in the building you’re renting, your business could be held liable. 

To understand how pets could affect your liability and your business insurance, start by having a conversation with your current insurance company. You may need to take out an additional business liability policy that specifically covers pets in the workplace. 

In addition to taking out liability insurance, you should prepare a plan in case an employee is ever bitten by a dog while in the workplace. Your plan should incorporate elements like a method for promptly gathering information about the incident, reporting the bite to the authorities, ensuring the employee gets immediate medical treatment, and removing the dog from the workplace. 

Dog Insurance to Protect Employees

When you bring multiple dogs into the same area for long periods of time, accidents and incidents can happen. Dogs can injure themselves while roughhousing with each other, and dog fights can and do occur. These incidents may result in costly vet bills. 

Pet insurance can help dog owners to cover the costs of unexpected vet bills and medical issues. If a dog gets into a fight, accesses some food that he shouldn’t eat, or has any other type of accident in the workplace, having pet insurance can reduce some of the financial stress that a trip to the animal ER or vet can create. You may want to recommend that your employees look into pet insurance policies before bringing their pets to the workplace. 

Having dogs in the office can carry the risk of diseases spreading, too. Kennel Cough is a highly contagious disease that can quickly spread when dogs are in close quarters. It results in a dry, hacking cough, and symptoms can last between one and three weeks. The disease spreads similarly to the way that colds spread among humans, and if dogs are together in an enclosed environment, like an office, the disease can spread rapidly. Employees may want to invest in a Kennel Cough vaccine for their dogs before bringing them to the office. 

Pets as Workplace Distractions

Pets are great for relieving stress and driving engagement between employees, but a workplace filled with pets can also be distracting. Multiple pets underfoot can disrupt employees’ attention spans, and the sound of dogs barking the background doesn’t make for a professional conference call with clients. 

If you decide to make your office pet-friendly, plan for ways to manage the pets and ensure employee safety. This may mean a restriction on the number of pets in the office each day and a requirement that pet owners bring in crates or baby gates to keep pets contained when they have to go to other rooms for conference calls. You may want to write a pet policy that dictates minimum age and training requirements for pets, office areas that are out-of-bounds, required vaccines for pets, and more. 

Informing an employee that their pet’s behavior is not acceptable and that their pet cannot continue to come into the office can create a difficult situation, but these types of situations can and will arise when you have pets in the office. By making a pet policy as detailed and clear as possible, you can help your employees to understand what’s expected of them and their pets. A detailed pet policy can also help to avoid problems before they happen. 

Plenty of offices are successfully pet-friendly, but it’s a decision that requires careful deliberation and preparation. Think about it thoroughly, and consider every scenario that could arise with the implementation of a pet policy. Get the opinion of all the office employees, and if it’s an overwhelming want, you can successfully make it happen. 

 

Guarantee Employee Job Satisfaction with Digital Workflows

Author: Chris Pope, VP Innovation, ServiceNow

 

The idea that company employees discuss and share their inner musings on corporate secrets when standing around the water cooler is probably more down to the movies than it is related to any form of reality. But if people are talking at work, one of the up-and-coming topics these days is their workflow—or lack of it.

Regardless of whether people talk at the water cooler, the tea station, or while queuing for lunch, we all discuss our working life experiences with each other in an informal way. It’s a sort of supplement―or you might say antidote—to human resources. And it’s where the crux of working lives is really played out.

So, in an increasingly connected and digitized world, may I suggest that the thread of water cooler conversations might be shifting slightly? Armed with new tools to transform the way many company processes are being carried out, people may now actually start discussing the state of their digital workflows and measuring their job satisfaction as a result.

 

A new yardstick for job satisfaction

People are now looking at the way work really gets done inside their organization in a far more granular and analytical way. Regardless of whether or not an individual is fully aware and cognizant of the digital workflow that their role may fall into, they are probably in one, nonetheless.

What everyone will know, instinctively, is that there is a flow of work between customers, partners and other members of an organization. What we can do with digital workflows is more accurately locate areas where work can be carried out more efficiently.

More than ever before we also know that people have more choice about the technology they use every day. We’ve witnessed the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work and the general consumerization of IT that came with it.

These experiences should tell us that if you don’t give people the right tools, then they will go and look for them. Equally, if you don’t give people the right applications, engagement systems and wider workflow patterns, then they will instinctively go and look for them, or make them.

 

Unrestrained innovation in a digitally native territory

The shift to digital business brings with it new opportunities. Non-techie business people are starting to embrace so called low-code software application development platforms that allow them to build elements of app functionality that work just the way they want them to.

As these new freedoms play out in the workplace, firms need to think about the unknown factors. Unbridled and unrestrained innovation is all very well, but the problem with custom-built point solutions is that they often do one thing well, but fail to provide scope for enterprise-wide scalability or an ability to integrate across the entire organisation.

If we think about platform-level technologies, we can build that innovation factor into software that is digitally native to the cloud era and so ready for a more structured approach. Because these applications have been built in a digitally native territory, they will be able to leverage fully integrated native device capabilities, such as maps, camera, and so on.

 

The virtuous circle of workflows

If we hinge our business models around digital workflows that define what data lives where, then we can more easily react to change and uncover new streams of profitable operation. Digitizing workflows means we can use defined data where it has the right impact, but also channel unstructured data to the data lake.

But even the information in the data lake need not go to waste―we can apply Machine Learning (ML) to these data resources and use algorithms to find patterns in business transactions where we weren’t even looking for them to drive new business outcomes. This can be a virtuous circle because workflows can be tuned and changed based upon the new insights uncovered.

 

The business process you didn’t know about

The best work processes are very often the ones that you follow, but that you didn’t even know about. If we define digital workflows and build our operational models around them, then we can increase productivity and create great experiences for employees who want to work anywhere and at any time.

A lot of employees have to take actions throughout the day that move the organization forward, but often these same actions prevent them from doing high-value work. It’s time to transform old, manual ways of working into modern digital workflows, so employees and customers get what they need, when they need it.

 

Create a joined-up experience

Kicking off digital workflow initiatives and getting your transformation started can be a real challenge and as a result, many companies struggle to even start their efforts. First of all, we all have disjointed internal systems and processes that make it hard to connect the dots. Trying to navigate these can feel like unravelling a ball of yarn, so the more you learn, the more complicated they seem.

Once you make sense of the systems and processes, you have to figure out the myriad tools and solutions that drive these. The end result you should be aiming for is a common, workflow-driven experience layer that is consistent across the systems in your organization.

Your typical company employee might still be more likely to discuss holiday plans, managerial peeves and whether or not the associate in accounts is being a pain about expense reports, but the water cooler conversation around ‘how is your workflow?’, is coming. Are you digitally hydrated yet?

 

Chris Pope - ServiceNow

 About the author

As ServiceNow’s global VP of Innovation, Chris brings more than 15 years of C-level executive experience with leading technology solutions and platforms across Product Management and Strategy. Chris also has the rare, added-value, experience of having been a ServiceNow customer multiple times so he understands the client and the vendor perspectives on business transformation. Chris’ proven track record working at and with the largest organisations globally, has seen him recognised as a thought leader in process and methodology. He holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Electronic Engineering from De Montfort University in the UK, and is a well-published author and contributor to many leading digital publications and blogs.

The Role of HR in Reputation Management

Most people think of recruiting and hiring when it comes to the HR department of any given company. But HR needs to be involved in much more than just interviewing potential employees. In fact, one of the most important aspects of HR work is reputation management. By guarding the company’s image and making sure employees are happy, it’s easier to not only harbor more interest from potential employees but to let the world know your company is a great place to work, grow, and find success. 

A human resource team should be properly trained when it comes to representing how the business looks to the rest of the world. It’s their responsibility to build and sustain a positive image for the business itself as well as its employees. That includes training for proper employee management and creating an environment where strong, respectful communication is expected and encouraged. Strong communication involves skills like being respectful, listening actively, knowing your audience, taking note of body language, and even habits as simple as putting your phone away.

When communication isn’t open between HR personnel and employees (especially unhappy employees), it will make matters worse and could result in an extremely stressful situation for your business. 

So, how can your HR team develop and sustain a positive reputation for your company? Let’s look at a few practices that your HR department should start committing to right away. 

Building a Better Company Culture

One of the best ways an HR team can focus on reputation management is to build a better company culture from the inside out. The way to do this will look a bit different for every type of business. It’s important to understand what’s important to your company and how you want to portray that not only to your employees but to the rest of the world. 

You want to make sure when any potential employee walks into your business for the first time, they get a full feel of what your company represents. They should understand your atmosphere, what’s expected, the culture surrounding other employees, the culture surrounding customers/clients, etc. It’s up to your HR team to make sure an environment of community and purpose always shines through. 

Other tactics that can be put into place to boost your company culture include things like: 

  • Encouraging your employees to share their positive experiences with the company on their own social media pages or on your company website. 
  • Encouraging your team to talk to potential hires before they start the job. 
  • Creating an environment in the workplace that motivates people to do their job well. 
  • Being flexible with people’s personal lives and schedules. 
  • Building a team — not just a group of individual workers. 
  • Having a strong company mission and making sure everyone knows it. 
  • Communicating with one another to keep things as clear as possible between employees and management. 

When your HR team chooses to create a positive company culture an environment that ensures employees are happy, the benefits will speak for themselves. Not only will you have a crew of employees who are excited to do their job and who are likely willing to go above and beyond, but you’re also more likely to recruit better employees to come work for your company. The trickle-down effect of a great workforce is self-evident. When you have the right people in the right positions, your customers — and in turn your business — will reap the benefits. 

It doesn’t end there. There are personnel techniques your HR team can utilize to highlight the net impact of each employee. Once you’ve found those people who love the work and are willing to go above and beyond, a good management structure won’t let them stagnate. For example:

  • If an employee shows a proclivity toward working with customers, you can create a customer success position in which their strengths can shine. 
  • If a member of your team is highly detail-oriented and organized, consider how they can help your organization by becoming a company auditor to ensure legal compliance with regulations and optimal efficiency.
  • If a member of your team is good at networking, they may be a good candidate when it comes to finding someone to manage your brand’s social media account.

Give employees the opportunity to play an active role in their own career development and the growth of the business. Professional empowerment is a force of nature, so keep an eye out for the unique skill sets that each of your hires bring to the table. 

How to Handle Unhappy Employees

Though reputation management is a big deal when it comes to finding new employees, it starts from the inside, and any successful HR team needs to realize that when they’re working on company culture. The old saying goes that you can’t make everyone happy all the time. But, people who work in HR should make it a constant mission to keep employees content. Yes, it starts with creating the right culture, but that culture needs to be continuously fostered to take care of employees who are already working hard. 

Some signs of disgruntled or unhappy employees typically include things like attendance problems, poor work quality, negative attitudes, or complaints about the job. Sometimes, though, employees won’t say anything about how dissatisfied they are, and they may just opt to quit. A high turnover rate within your company is a sign that your HR team isn’t doing what is needed to ensure everyone’s satisfaction. 

That might seem like a small problem to have, but if employees start leaving, they could do damage to your company’s reputation.Word of mouth goes a long way, and what a former employee says to a customer could result in a negative review. This could lead you to have to hire some serious reputation management. If not the negative reviews can be a huge red flag for people who might have otherwise been interested in working at your business. 

Additionally, an HR team has to be prepared for unexpected situations. For example, if an employee gets hurt on the job, reputation management is still an important consideration. Typical job injuries include things like: 

It’s up to the HR team to make sure an injured employee gets the care they need. If they don’t, that employee could take legal action, which could seriously damage any company’s reputation. 

Reputation management is important for any business. But, it’s not just about making sure customers and clients see you in a positive light; it’s making sure you’re attracting the right people to work for you and keeping your current employees satisfied with your company culture. This should fall on the shoulders of a quality, driven HR team. Putting some of these ideas into action immediately can make a big difference for your business by providing a boost to your reputation.

Tips to Consider While Writing Your Employee Handbook

Many companies have an employee handbook to clarify and dictate proper behavior, social norms and legal issues. Creating a handbook is a big project, and companies strive to write their guide in a way that’s thorough and clear, without being boring – employees should actually read the guide, after all. Moreover, companies have to make sure that they’re covering everything necessary to protect themselves and to avoid liability in the future.

Create the Handbook with the Masses in Mind

Every business is going to have a few bad seeds who like to push boundaries, break the rules, and get themselves or even the company in trouble. This is why creating a clear employee handbook is important, as a handbook will clarify what is okay and what isn’t, with little room for interpretation. Most employees will appreciate a guide to what conduct is expected at work, but if you create a handbook that sounds threatening and that scolds your employees before they even do something wrong, you’ll put your employees on edge and build mistrust from the beginning. Instead, you can clarify and outline the rules and repercussions while still being respectful of your employees.

Avoid Boilerplate Policies

You can easily find employee handbook templates online, but copying and pasting this information into your own handbook isn’t going to provide the information your employees need or the protection your company needs. Boilerplate information is meant to be used as an example or a starting point. You have to adapt this information to account for current laws, your industry and your location.

The same goes for covering scope of employment. The handbook should clarify what’s expected of an employee depending on their role. This can protect the business if the employee breaks a law by performing an act that falls outside their scope of employment. Usually, an employer is only liable if the unlawful act falls within the scope of employment.

Include Disclaimers

Every employee handbook should include disclaimers. Here are a few things that these disclaimers should make clear:

  • The employee handbook does not serve as an employment contract.
  • The employee is still considered an at-will employee.
  • The handbook can be modified at any time by the employer or HR department.

Disclaimers serve two purposes: they help the employee understand what they’re agreeing to and they also give the company the flexibility to make amendments as needed.

Don’t Skip Company Culture

Your employee handbook has to cover legal bases, but you shouldn’t skip over the backbone of your company: its values, mission, and ethos. That’s what employees truly care about, especially if you’ve vetted and hired the right people for your team. To the right employees, that sort of information is going to be a lot more important than the minutiae of lunch break and work shift policies. On the same note, think in terms of the culture you’re in, such as the industry you’re part of and the age group and interests of your employees. This will help you create an engaging handbook instead of a dry and boring one.

Explain the Thought Process Behind Policies

If you on’t explain why a policy is the way it is, employees are going to make assumptions and guesses, and they may talk themselves into being displeased with the policy. For example, let’s say one of your company policies is that no more than five employees can take their lunch break at the same time. To the employee, this may sound like the company doesn’t want coworkers to mingle or get to know one another. In reality, though, this could be so there are always enough people monitoring communication so that there’s never a long wait for a customer.

Here’s another example: your employees may not realize why proper retention and disposal of customer records is important. They may assume that you’re just being picky and over-cautious. By explaining that those records have personal information or health information protected under HIPAA law, employees will take document retention and shredding more seriously.

Ask for Feedback

There’s nothing wrong with asking your employees for their opinions about the employee handbook. You may find out that something is unclear, that they were told different information during the hiring process or that your policies aren’t aligned with industry best practices. While you don’t have to make changes to the employee handbook simply because some employees have a problem with it, you’ll open yourself up to new viewpoints you may not have thought of yourself.

Make the Handbook Accessible Online

Employees will get the most value from a handbook if it’s accessible and searchable. Storing your employee handbook online means that employees (and management) can access it from anywhere and search for exactly what they want without thumbing through page after page. Also, any changes made to the handbook can be highlighted or mentioned on an introductory page. It’s also a good idea to let employees comment on parts of the handbook in case they have questions or concerns. This is especially important for remote workers and freelancers who need to be able to digitally communicate with the company from wherever they are in the world.

The Future of Your Employee Handbook

There’s no such thing as a final edition of your employee handbook. You’ll update and revise the handbook as necessary when policies change or need to be clarified, and also when laws change. Make sure that you’re keeping up with any updates or additions to employment law so that your handbook can reflect the changes. In many cases, it’s better to start with a broad handbook and then expand and add detail over time. As long as you’re covering your legal bases (it’s best to consult a lawyer), you don’t have to worry about your handbook getting you in trouble.

Cultivating Workplace Culture Through Technology

Although individual employees’ wants and needs differ, one point remains true for so many. That beyond salary, they want to feel valued and work in an environment where company culture is a priority. Employers therefore need to take the lead in prioritizing company culture in a number of meaningful ways, from benefits to flexible working.

Technology has given us the opportunity to stay connected wherever we are but is often blamed for creating our “always-on” culture. Employers and employees grapple with the question of whether this way of working is actually contributing to or hindering workplace culture from evolving. But technology in the workplace has huge potential when it comes to promoting overall company culture by bringing personalized benefits to life, while transforming the way we work.

Technology in the workplace 

In recent years, the use of technology has been under fire for having negative repercussions on both mental and physical wellbeing, from creating eyesight problems to producing a sense of social isolation. Thanks to technology, we can work anywhere, at any time which is very convenient, but it can also lead to an always-on culture in the workplace.

On the other hand, technology has enabled people to access all the information they need about their benefits in one place, from a range of devices, making them feel valued and appreciated by their organization. In fact, Our Global Employee Benefits Watch report found that 81% of employees who can easily access their benefits said they feel loyal to their employer, while 79% of employees who can easily access their benefits said they were proud to work for their organization. This flexibility also means that previously admin-intensive tasks, such as submitting expenses or choosing benefits for example, have become quicker and easier, not only for the employee but the HR department as well. HR teams no longer have to waste resources on manual tasks. Instead, they are able to use technology to automate these activities to free up time to focus on larger, more strategic initiatives. It’s important that organizations recognize the power of technology as a vehicle to communicate and support their culture, enabling the changing needs of the modern workforce.

Company culture remains top priority

A great company culture is now essential for attracting and retaining employees. Taking it a step further, giving employees a purpose and reason to work for you over a competitor, aside from just pay and compensation, can be a differentiator. Culture manifests itself everywhere from the office environment, the values the company operates by, to company policies and benefits offerings.

A quick win is to look at the benefits you offer your employees and ask – do they align to your values? Do they help to promote the culture you want to create? A key part of that exercise will be examining how employees access and interact with their benefits. Benefits technology not only allows employees working anywhere to access their benefits and engage with their organization, but allows the HR team to examine which benefits are resonating most with their employees and deliver an offering that is reflective of their culture.

Business leaders paving the way

Change must happen from the top. Business leaders need to take charge in promoting a culture of technology as a force for good. In order to do this, there are foundational changes that need to happen.  Executives need to ensure that all their operations are set up to provide employees with the same workplace experience, wherever and whenever they’re working.

From a cultural perspective, being able to access benefits from anywhere is as important as having access to email. Employers need to be able to provide remote access to all platforms – benefits included – so that employees aren’t forced to go into the office to access the information they need.

Benefits offerings require flexibility 

Benefits offerings speak volumes about an organization and exemplify what values they truly believe in. For example, if a high proportion of an organization’s employees work from home, offering a cycle to work program or gym membership tied to office locations is not only useless, but exemplifies a lack of consideration for the needs of their employees.

Instead, employers need to offer personalized benefits that match individual needs based on preference, location and schedule. This will help build alignment between culture and benefits. If businesses wish to develop a flexible culture, offering benefits that employees can enjoy from anywhere is important. But businesses can’t stop there. It’s also vital that these benefits are communicated to all employees in an effective manner, and that they’re accessible whenever needed. Benefits technology bridges this gap.

When developing company culture, technology should be a major cornerstone. We live in a technology-enabled world, and employees expect this same connected experience at work. Employees want to feel both appreciated and supported by their employers and technology can be the first step in cultivating an authentic workplace culture.

 

 

 

 

Benefits of Using Humor in the Workplace

How can you benefit by making your everyday office life more fun?

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Why should you use humor at the workplace?

Using humor in the workplace has many benefits. Office humor can come in many different forms – it can be an office joke, prank or funny employee awards event.

Any event, no matter how big or small, infused with humor can brighten up a regular, everyday life at the office and bring a smile to everyone’s face.

The benefits of using humor in the workplace

Besides making you and your colleagues feels good and less stressed, using humor at the workplace has many additional, proven benefits. Dr. David Abramis at Cal State Long Beach has studied fun at work for years.

He discovered that employees who have fun on the job are more creative, more productive, better decision-makers and get along better with co-workers. They also have fewer absentee, late, and sick days than people who aren’t having fun.

Therefore, the main benefits of using humor at the workplace are:

  • Increased employee engagement
  • Increased employee productivity
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Decreased turnover rates.

These are certainly some very good reasons to have some fun at the office. Aren’t they?

Rules for using humor at the workplace

A good office humor is the one that everyone can enjoy and laugh about. Be careful not to go overboard and hurt somebody’s feelings or embarrass or humiliate your coworkers.  

How to introduce humor at your workplace?

Here are 2 great ways to introduce humor to your workplace:

  1. Funny employee awards

    Turn your old, boring “Employee of the month” award into something much more fun! Check out our list of ideas for funny employee awards!
  2. Funny office pranks

    There is nothing that can bring out so much fun and laugh like a well thought office prank. When was the last time you enjoyed making a practical joke on your co-workers? If you’re looking for inspiration, check out our list of the top 20 office prank ideas!

Providing Support to Employees With Serious Health Conditions

When an employee has a serious health condition, a certain level of accommodation is legally required. However, an employer’s obligation doesn’t stop there. Every person with health issues has their own needs, which may change over time.

Building and supporting employee wellness in the workplace means using effective communication tools, supporting employees by helping them access information, providing flexible work opportunities, and staying attuned to their changing needs.

Confidentiality, Empathy, Openness, and Support (CEOS)

Fostering a positive workplace culture is essential. CEOs, as well as management, needs to embrace the importance of CEOS. This acronym stands for confidentiality, empathy, openness, and support — the necessary foundation to build trusting relationships on. These tools can help you communicate with your employees about health challenges and support them:

  • Confidentiality: The last thing you want is a distrustful employee who ghosts you and fails to communicate, and the last thing an employee wants is to lose their job due to health issues or needing time off for appointments at the doctor’s office. By ensuring confidentiality when discussing healthcare concerns, you provide a foundation for better communication.
  • Empathy: When an employee faces a healthcare crisis, they may feel conflicted. They want to feel heard and understood, but they also need to remain professional and carry out work obligations. Many employees simply quit or find themselves laid off after facing a health crisis, so they may feel that it’s a risk to have a conversation with you about health-related topics. You can retain an employee’s trust by showing empathy. Listen actively and ensure you understand their needs and concerns by summarizing and confirming. A little empathy can go a long way.
  • Openness: Openness means you’re ready to support your sick employees when they come to you. This involves preparation. It’s also about how open the employee wishes to be about their illness. Some may find help in sharing details about their struggle, while others will wish to remain extremely private about it.
  • Support: Confidentiality, empathy, and openness are paths to support. If you’ve managed to implement these objectives, you can offer support to the employee. The best thing you can do here involves asking the employee what they need and helping them find a solution you can employ.

Understanding Invisible Illnesses

Invisible illnesses are especially important for managers and HR professionals to understand. Especially when it comes to chronic health pain and related conditions, you can’t always see that someone is in pain or understand their pain level.

When individuals suffer from chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia, they may experience periods of remission (when there is little to no pain), as well as flare-ups when symptoms are at their worst. For some, this status can change in a matter of hours, and factors like the weather or office temperature are not-so-obvious contributors to pain for some patients.

Regular treatments for some conditions can create more pain in the short-term to improve health overall. Examples include physical therapy and chemotherapy.

Many employees facing invisible illnesses, including digestive illnesses like GERD, also need to make significant lifestyle changes, including new medications. Further, new diets and exercise routines can impact how employees relate to family and friends — and they may entail a real adjustment period for the employee.

Overall, managing chronic health conditions is different than curing them. Accepting major life changes after being diagnosed with a chronic health condition can be traumatizing, and finding specific solutions for pain management is often a challenging road.

Mental Health Considerations

One in five people have mental health issues, and these are not immediately obvious. Does your company have a policy allowing for mental health days? What do you do to take mental wellness as seriously as physical health? Thinking ahead can help you support employees in this regard.

Mental health conditions often accompany serious physical health conditions. Dramatically changing pain levels, various medications, and the strain of being sick is very taxing on the mental health of people with physical illnesses. Plus, it’s not always obvious: Many car accident survivors develop PTSD, so even the act commuting into work can be extremely stressful for them.

Three out of four PTSD patients respond well to medical marijuana, but many businesses are a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to marijuana use. Does your company policy on drug testing accommodate employees suffering from mental health issues or chronic pain?

The Insurance Problem

If you’ve ever been sick while covered by employer-sponsored health insurance, you likely understand how defeating and demoralizing it can be to deal with the insurance company. This problem magnifies when you have a serious condition like cancer.

To help employees access their insurance, make sure you have the insurance company’s contact information on your employee portal and in your welcome materials. Ensure this information is clear when you provide employees with any information about benefits packages as well.

While you aren’t customer service for the insurance company, survey your employees routinely. Stay aware of recurring gripes about the health insurance coverage and attempts to communicate with the insurer.

Human Resource Technology

Especially for larger organizations, human resource technology is crucial to supporting employees with health conditions. Provide a centralized location that harbors documentation and contact information for employer-sponsored insurance. Include contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — not only to provide the resource, but to show that your organization values conversations around mental health.

Software tools like Zenefits and Bamboo HR allow you to provide digital resource centers to your employees. Additionally, many employees struggling with serious health conditions have a more challenging time with professional development. Your digital resource center can provide a framework for employees to learn about and express interest in new positions, participate in self-training, and provide feedback on whether they feel you’re using their skills fully, which is crucial for neurodiverse employees who require direct feedback.

Managing Remote Employees

The most common accommodation for employees with serious health conditions is work-at-home flexibility. In the United States, 36 million people miss work due to pain at least once per year. Most of these workers lose between four and five hours per week due to pain issues, and most chronic pain sufferers feel like they are not effectively managing their pain alone or with the help of a doctor.

For a chronic pain patient, working at home can mean the difference between missing work and showing up. For the person having a panic attack every time they get in the car due to a recent car accident, a temporary work-at-home solution not only enables them to work but shows you have empathy for their experience.

Off-site employees can interface with on-site teams easily by leveraging tools like:

  • Skype for Business: This provides face-to-face and text-based communication instantly.
  • Time-tracking tools: Time-tracking software allows all employees to log in and out electronically, preventing the need for micromanagement, especially for at-home workers.
  • Project management tools: Programs like Trello and Asana allow employees in various locations to work with one another to complete pieces of projects.

With communication, compassion, and reliance on technological resources, you can support employees facing serious health conditions and enable continued productivity through flexibility. Only then will you reap the benefits on employee engagement.