Creating an Employee Benefits Package that Will Attract and Retain Talent

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

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

Flexible Scheduling

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

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

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

Health Plans

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

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

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

Benefits for the Future

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

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

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

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

Image Source: Unsplash

What Are the Best Team Collaboration Tools?

Everyone has heard of Slack and Zoom. You probably use them both every day.
But what are the other, lesser known — but as equally effective — team collaboration tools?

And, more importantly, how do they help?

Notion

We’re big fans of Notion at Cronofy. It allows us to collaborate on all kinds of documents in real time.

We can create Kanban boards, tables, to-do lists…you name it, Notion can do it. You can set pages to public, company-wide, team-wide, or keep them private.

Having a centralized tool like Notion means that all information is stored in one place and we can collaborate easily on things like copy, or see what each other is working on. It’s also been invaluable for me in the learning phase of my onboarding.  — Laura, Product Marketer

It’s completely flexible, which makes it super useful. We’ve been using it for a few months now, and we have no idea how we coped without it.
As our CTO Garry puts it:

If you’re not in the same office you have to be able to look at the same thing, even with a basic tool you’d be able to share documents, source code, etc.

It also has a desktop version, which means you can even use it offline.

Calendars

We’re all about calendars and connectivity here at Cronofy.

We can all see each others’ calendars, which makes it easier for us to know who’s in the office and who isn’t.

It reinforces our culture of transparency while also making it easier to schedule meetings with each other.

Calendars can be taken to the next level when they connect to the software we use every day:

It’s useful when our calendars connect with the software we use such as Slack and Zoom. We can schedule meetings with each other without flitting between multiple programs. — Kristina, Content Marketer

The time spent flitting between programs when scheduling meetings is time that gets wasted. Syncing calendars with software we use every day saves us hours every week.

GIT

As our Senior Developer Tom puts it:

Solid version control is a key part of any code-based workflow, but we literally could not be as effective team without being able to branch and merge our code. It allows us to work independently and safely combine all our efforts. As a bonus, the ability to review works-in-progress and collaborate on the same code at the same time makes all our work better.

Laptop

This one seems obvious, but you don’t realize just how important it is until yours breaks. This happened to one of our team members a couple of weeks ago.

Luckily we had a spare that she could use while hers was being repaired, but what if we hadn’t? It would’ve made it difficult for her to get her work done. We’re so reliant on the hardware that we use that we often forget how important it is to our day-to-day activities.

You should also ensure that the laptop you use is fit for the job. A salesperson will need something portable, for example, while a developer needs something with more processing power.

The right laptop means that you can connect with your coworkers easily, wherever you are in the world.

Of course, a good laptop is nothing without an internet connection when you’re talking to your colleagues, so make sure you have a speed that can handle video conferencing, too.

Conclusion

Giving your team the right tools to collaborate with is vital to their success in their role. It also plays a major role in the success of your company.

The easier it is for employees to connect and collaborate, the more likely they are to do so. This improves communication between teams, which can be reflected in communication with customers, and therefore their experience and opinion of your brand.

Better communication also leads to happier employees and a more productive working environment.

Find out more about our favorite team collaboration tools over on the Cronofy blog.

What Technologies Might Replace Human Resource Professionals?

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

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

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

Remote Teams

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

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

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

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

Training and Development

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

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

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

Closer Human and Technology Relationship

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Image Source: Pexels

Brighten employee spirits this holiday season with more flexibility and choice

While the holidays are a source of happiness and joy for many, more than 70% of Americans struggle to relax this time of year, and nearly half worry about finding the perfect gift. It’s become such a problem that 30% of Americans wish they could ditch gift-giving altogether. Others are bogged down by the rush to keep up with activities and expectations. Organizations need to recognize these pressures and make sure they are connecting with employees during this stressful period. They can start – and pave the way for a wonderful 2020 – right now.

Holiday cheer through the new year and beyond

Employers can celebrate the season with any number of team-focused events, including potlucks, dinners or even a quick brunch. There’s no wrong way to do it – all that matters is that the team feels supported and appreciated.

And it doesn’t have to end with the arrival of the new year. Businesses can continue to boost employee morale by hosting group yoga sessions, company-wide charity fundraisers, or a trip to a local event or museum.

This is especially important when considering the research on employee wellness. Our study of 2,000 employees found that almost a third (31%) are kept awake at night by workplace stressors, including their interactions with management and colleagues. This further highlights the tremendous impact the workplace can have on someone’s mental health. In providing a little holiday and new year cheer, businesses can make a big difference and improve employee wellbeing.

The gift that keeps on giving

The vast majority (80%) of HR decision makers agree that flexible working arrangements are important when considering talent retention. In other words, businesses are in a unique position to give the ultimate gift this holiday season: time.

Most employees would value the opportunity to start their day a couple hours early. This would allow them to avoid rush hour and still make it home in time to cook a holiday feast. Others might benefit from a later schedule that allows them to catch up on sleep before the next family visit. For jobs that can be performed from any location, employees would also appreciate the option to work remotely. In turn, employers could reap the benefits of increased productivity.

A present just for them

Gift cards have become one of the most popular gifts during the holiday shopping season. Compared to a homemade scarf or knitted sweater, it might not feel like the most personal option. But it’s very personal to the recipient, who can choose which items to purchase.

Wellness pots – the “gift card” of employee benefits – offer a similar level of freedom. With the flexibility to spend money on things that meet their needs, they are a great way to support employees’ mental and physical wellbeing during the year’s most stressful periods. Whether drum lessons, mindfulness programs or art classes, wellness pots make it easy for employees to choose exactly what they want.

Brighten their spirits

Don’t let the stress of the holidays bring the most wonderful time of the year to a screeching halt. It can be a time of loneliness and anxiety, but organizations can play a huge role in changing that. They can bring employees together for festive gatherings and outings that support their mental and social well being. Businesses can also offer flexible working arrangements that allow each employee to decide when and/or where to start their day. And by empowering their teams with wellness pots, they can provide an unprecedented level of employee choice. Best of all, these benefits can be used to support employees long after the holidays are over – a win-win for any time of the year.

5 Ways HR Can Learn from Project Managers

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

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

1. Planning

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

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

2. Avoiding Pitfalls

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

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

3. Collaboration

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

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

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

4. Tracking

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

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

5. Managing Personality Types

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

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

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

Image Source: Unsplash 

Three Facts Highlight the Disparity Between Single and Married Employees

More than 110 million Americans over the age of 18 are currently unmarried, but many companies have been slow to adjust to support modern relationships, creating an unnecessary value gap between married and single employees.

Looking to dig a little deeper, we asked 300 U.S. HR decision makers about the differences in their benefits programs based on employees’ marital status. We found that an overwhelming 90% of companies offer additional benefits to employees who are married. Disparities between single and married co-workers can be seen across the entire benefits ecosystem with everything from PTO to healthcare and flexible working. Here are four ways singles are losing out to their married counterparts.

1) Unmarried employees have less time to spend with family and friends – and it’s costing them

Unfortunately for most, if you are unmarried you are likely to receive less PTO than if you are legally married. There are significant monetary differences here: married employees receive an average of 3.6 additional days off compared to those who are not. Those days could come in the form of additional paid time off for a wedding and/or honeymoon in the case of 22% of companies. With the U.S. median household income at $56,516 (or $217 per working day), single employees are missing out on approximately $775 in PTO value.

Married employees also receive healthcare contributions totaling $461.80 per month on average. That’s more than $100 extra than the average amount paid to employees who are single ($344.35). Multiplied over a 10-year period, single employees can expect to miss out on $14,094 in healthcare benefits compared to their married counterparts.

As if that weren’t enough, married employees also receive additional pension contributions from 34% of companies.

2) They get fewer days to care for relatives in need

The Family Caregiver Alliance reported that in 2019 there were approximately 39.8 million caregivers providing care to adults with a disability or illness in the U.S. This amounts to a sizeable number of Americans (17%) who need additional family support outside of caring for children.

While almost three quarters of companies offer weeks of paid family leave to employees with children, only 44% offer that option to those who have other family caregiver responsibilities – that’s a 26% gap between the two.

3) They are presented with fewer working options

There is a strong belief that married employees, and especially parents, should be prioritized when it comes to flexible working. More than half of HR decision makers say their firms offer 4-day work weeks to employees with children versus 36% who offer it to everyone. HR decision makers justify this preferential treatment, with 69% saying that “flexible working is more important for colleagues with children.”

More than 60% agree that the benefits system currently works best for the nuclear family model and that “it’s unfair that colleagues without partners don’t receive the same flexible benefits as those that have partners or children.” Despite their acknowledgement that change is needed, they have yet to make flexible arrangements equally available across their workforce.

Personalization is the answer

The importance of benefits flexibility, choice and personalization cannot be overemphasized. More than 80% of HR decision makers agreed that all employees should have access to personalized benefits that suit them best. Unfortunately, only 59% are actually offering these to all employees. And of those respondents who do not yet offer personalized options, just 15% are planning to do so in the future.

Now is the time for greater recognition of diverse lifestyle choices and new family structures in the workplace. The current strategy – in which organizations reward some employees but not others – will only breed resentment. Instead of getting more out of those who are single, companies could wind up with employees who are unhappy with their working arrangements. Unhappy employees are less productive and less likely to remain loyal to their employer, creating another unnecessary issue: turnover.

If organizations want to attract and retain top talent, they need to understand that fair treatment must be extended to everyone. Failing to do so could lead to unintentional discrimination against the average single person. By carefully evaluating the needs of every employee, companies of all shapes and sizes can create a benefits offering that’s truly appreciated – and is valuable and inclusive for all.

Prioritizing Mental Health in the Workplace

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

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

Look for Ways to Address Anxiety

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

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

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

Implement Changes to Your Policy

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

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

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

Consider Emotional Support Dogs

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

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

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

Provide Information and Resources

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

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

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

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

Image Source: Unsplash

Sustainable Decor & Technology for the Workplace

HR Tech 11-7
Image Source: pixabay.com

Sustainability has become the “in” thing in nearly every aspect of our lives — our new sustainable homes, energy efficient cars, and even our workplaces. Sure, the word can get a little cliche at times; it seems like you can’t really get away from the notion of being more sustainable. But even at its most inundating, the concept can actually provide a number of tangible benefits to our lives without a huge amount of effort.

In fact, there are about a hundred ways that being sustainable can actually make the office a bit of a better place to be. Some research indicates that a more sustainable, green office space helps employees feel less anxious or stressed and more productive. These good feelings can lead to better reviews, greater accomplishments, and less turnover.

If your office is working towards becoming more sustainable, congrats! Working towards that goal doesn’t always have to equate to spending a lot of money to completely reorganize everything. Rather, sustainability can come in any number of small ways that add up to some major benefits.

Decoration

Decorating around the office can certainly vary in scale. For example, adding plants around the office or opening up the blinds to allow for natural lighting can help people relax and feel more content in their workspace. Likewise, upcycling around the office can help reduce office waste and give your space a bit more of a personalized touch which can encourage employees to feel more invested in their workplace.

If you are upgrading your office space and wanting to make a more sustainable impact during the process, upcycling some goods can be a great way to do it. But eventually, you are going to need to buy some new things. Making your purchases count by getting products and furniture that is useful to employees and still sustainable or even LEED certified can help you meet your goals.

A higher LEED certification rating can come from much of the new office furniture purchases such as desks, chairs, computers, and lighting. Electrical products can be more energy efficient, while the furniture can be constructed of recycled materials. LEED certification points can make your office a more desirable place to work, a boon for retaining current employees and attracting quality new hires.

Maintenance

Replacing things within the office doesn’t have to be the only way to become a more sustainable space. Just keeping up on some of the regular office maintenance tasks can actually help your office waste less and reach its sustainability goals. Doing so can even safe the company quite a bit of money each year.

An example of this is taking the time to make sure all of the office plumbing is working at an optimal condition. Just like in a home, leaking pipes or damaged water heaters can quickly cost the company thousands of dollars and months of heartache in repairs. But fixing leaks and getting issues squared away quickly can make a difference. Even a dripping faucet can be a profound water waster, costing your company money and sustainability points in one fell swoop.

Your office can also keep up on other maintenance, upgrades, and repairs that will impact your ability to be sustainable and likely save money in the process. Examples are:

  • HVAC maintenance
  • Use laptops and turn things off at night
  • Install motion activated lighting
  • Install a smart thermostat
  • Consolidate printers
  • Upgrade to LEED appliances
  • Use water efficient landscape designs

People

Finally, the people component. Keeping up on important office maintenance and doing upgrades can go a long way in making your company more sustainable, but getting people on board is the final component. Once the other employees buy in, your workspace will be well on its way to a more sustainable outcome.

But how to do that?

One way to start is by allowing employees to contribute to sustainability goals. For instance, allow them to telework once a week, which will reduce their environmental impact from driving. It also reduces the use of lighting, power, and water in the office. Likewise, get employees to participate in company events that benefit sustainability goals, which can build a team mentality and improve working relations.

If your company hosts conferences or employees attend meetings regularly, perhaps it is time to rethink meeting sustainability. Are there ways to waste less, such as by requiring participants to bring their own coffee cups? Can meetings take place virtually rather than in person? All of these small things can really add up.

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Sustainability in the office is a completely manageable thing in small steps. Sustainable decor and technology as well as keeping up on maintenance and repairs can make a big difference. Getting other people involved and on board with sustainability in the office is the final step to success! You can do it!

Healthy Communication in the Workplace

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Communication is one of the foundational elements of a properly functioning workplace, and as an HR rep, you’re likely going to be at the heart of your office’s communication channels. Whether you’re discussing work-life balance, resolving interpersonal conflict, or training employees regarding company policies, communication is going to be a key to success.

Why Good Communication Matters

A company is a living organism, and as is the case with all living organisms, communication between its various members is essential. Whether a business functions within a single office, maintains several locations across a country, or is completely remote in nature, healthy communication, among other things, helps to:

  • Communicate company objectives and values.
  • Promote teamwork and collaboration.
  • Maintain healthy professional relationships.
  • Encourage work-life balance.
  • Resolve interpersonal conflict.

The list goes on and on. One way or another, healthy communication is involved in nearly every facet of a successful company, which is why HR professionals, in particular, should make it a priority to facilitate and promote proper communication within the workplace.

Tips for Good Communication

From general training to specific person-to-person interactions, here are a handful of the best ways you can facilitate good communication within your company.

Offer Training

Training is a useful tool that allows a large amount of information to be communicated to an entire group of people efficiently and effectively. You can promote communication within your workplace in multiple ways by utilizing training sessions and seminars.

For instance, you can establish clear boundaries and protocols in order to avoid blurred lines when it comes to things like personal and professional relationships within the workplace. All staff members should be clearly informed regarding topics like sexual harassment and how to communicate sexual consent with a work colleague. They should also be made well aware of how to report issues of misconduct to a superior.

Along with protocol like this, you can also use teaching scenarios to help communicate to employees the importance of finding work-life balance and maintaining their mental health while on the job.

Promote Resources

It’s also important for HR representatives to establish themselves as a central source of resources for those in need. For instance, it should be made clear that if an employee is struggling in their personal life, they can come to HR in order to find resources for counseling.

Another example of providing resources would be informing a victim of sexual assault where they can find a sexual assault nurse examiner. Even someone simply trying to maintain a healthy weight should be able to come to HR in order to find important health information.

If employees are continually empowered with resources that help them maintain their health and well-being, it will go a long way in helping to promote interactions and communication with an office as a whole.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

A good HR rep is going to keep their door open at all times. If you want to promote good communication, you want employees to feel that they can come to you whenever they have a need without the fear of being turned away or asked to wait. This kind of communication starts with a good open door policy, which helps promote trust and encourages those with a need to approach you confidently with an issue or concern.

In addition, make sure that you take the time to learn how to look for common signs of distress, even if someone isn’t consciously communicating something specifically with you. If, for instance, an employee is failing to relate their particular issue with you, you may be able to identify what they’re dealing with by looking for other signs.

Say, for instance, that an employee is struggling with the recent loss of a loved one or the fact that they’ve checked out of their marriage. You may be able to pick up on the signs that they’re unconsciously projecting and help them communicate their struggle.

Be a Mediator

While it’s always nice to be a source of comfort, sometimes providing good communication requires some less desirable action. Any HR rep worth their salt is going to be ready to step into the role of mediator whenever the need arises.

The less-than-savory task of leading employees through interpersonal conflict takes focus and skill. A good mediator will be willing to dig to the root of an issue and then provide strategies that are aimed at resolving the conflict and preventing further problems from arising in the future. If you find yourself faced with the task of being a mediator, it’s critical that you step up to the challenge with grace and wisdom in order to maintain the relationships at stake and restore healthy communication between the aggrieved parties.

Practice Active Listening

Finally, it’s always wise to both practice and promote active listening. If you want healthy interconnectivity to percolate throughout your workplace, you’re going to want to start with your own communication efforts.

Start by taking the time to actively listen to your company’s employees. Avoid passing judgment, be patient, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to summarize and clarify in order to make sure everyone has been heard. If you can demonstrate active listening on a regular basis, you’ll provide a benchmark of healthy communication for others around you to follow.

Achieving Proper Communication

Training, seminars, resources, mediation, active listening, and open-door policies are all essential ingredients for maintaining healthy communication in the workplace. However, the most important thing of all is for you to take the time to properly prioritize communication in the first place. If an HR rep focuses on keeping proper lines of communication open within a workplace, potentially negative scenarios can be identified and addressed quickly and appropriately, leading to a smooth, functioning office over the long term.

Wave Goodbye to the Pitfalls of Presenteeism

The US Department of Labor says that the average American takes eight days off every year, meaning workers gift thousands of dollars of unused vacation time to their employers annually. But why?

Part of the issue is presenteeism – which plagues corporate America and, at the last calculation, costs the country $150 billion a year. This estimate attributed lost productivity due to poor health conditions of employees who still came to work – but did not take into account other effects – such as how presenteeism can also affect company culture, worker retention, and talent attraction.

The basic definition of presenteeism is when an employee spends more time at work than is required – including if they are unwell. A report from NPR, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found over half of Americans go to work when they are sick.

Deadlines are feared, having too many actions to return to, and expectations that employees must put work before their own health. For many workers, presenteeism is engrained in company culture. And it’s a problem many industries are grappling with as they increase flexible working policies that improve work life balances.

Companies must take the necessary actions to combat this issue, with three steps to consider below:

Step one: Addressing the root causes

Organizations should first take steps to address the root causes of poor physical and mental health within their workforce by offering comprehensive benefits packages. To have the greatest impact, these should include wellbeing support through a holistic benefits package such as wellness initiatives/allowances, access to mental health resources, massage or acupuncture sessions, and nutritionist sessions that support employees’ physical and mental health.

Additionally, technology is essential for HR and benefits teams to counter presenteeism. As well as offering sophisticated analysis that enables HR to track the popularity (and, therefore, success) of any company initiatives over a period of time, benefits tech and wellness pots can make a more immediate and tangible impact by allowing employees to self-administer benefits to impact their day-to-day health and happiness. This opens up an endless list of options, for example this could include access to yoga classes, therapy sessions, or financial wellness training. This digital approach to benefits management not only also means employees can access their benefits whenever and wherever they want, but provides data back to employers on what benefits are being used (and therefore valued.)

Step two: Analyze company culture

Presenteeism is often a cultural issue entrenched in an organization by the behavior of the leadership team or company values that haven’t yet evolved. While most within a company will recognize change as necessary, direction and leadership must first come from management.

If workers see management and leadership teams taking time off when they’re sick or are in need of a rest, they’ll be far more likely to do the same. It sends a clear message that when somebody is ill, they too should take the time to recover and when work is done, it’s time to go home.

HR can also facilitate open discussions about the importance of wellbeing to help shift company culture by using listening exercises that demonstrate to the workforce the company cares. Furthermore, organizations can take polls and surveys to help address any gaps in company benefits packages that could enhance their employees’ wellbeing – there is no shortage of ways employers can try to make improvements in this area.

Step three: Tech is key

Technology has effectively allowed more employees to work from home or other remote locations. Remote work brings many benefits such as reduced stress by saving money and time on commuting. But with this comes a need for balance.

Employers must be clear to workers that when they are sick, they should not be sending emails or seen online. When they are ready and well enough to return to work, they will be recovered, rejuvenated, and more productive.

We have a lot of work to do to address and eliminate presenteeism. Companies need to start by looking at their culture and management structures to better understand how to lead by example. People should be made to feel comfortable to take time off when they’re physically or mentally unwell without fearing piles of work or judgement from their manager – or their colleagues. This means actually taking time off when rest is needed so they can recuperate, and not working remotely which should be actively discouraged by managers during sick leave.