How HR teams can make the best of the worst of times

In our work from anywhere era, HR teams have been tasked with maintaining a long-term view of the workplace — how, where and when people are working – and their efforts have paid off. According to a report by McKinsey, 80% of employees have enjoyed working from home. And it looks as though this is set to continue for some time. With this in mind, HR teams need to make sure they have a continuous and accurate view of their workforce, and use this insight to create both an engaging and personalized employee experience. Employee benefits play a huge role in this, not only in affirming the organizations clear commitment to employee wellbeing and development, but in helping HR teams deliver real value to their people in the worst of times.

1. Start by putting wellbeing front and center

Roughly half of U.S. workplaces offer health and wellness programs, but most of them were created with the traditional workplace in mind. The new working reality means that many organizations have had to pivot their approach – and fast – to make sure they continue to meet their employees’ needs.

There are two critical components here, starting with the way employees access support when working remotely. Whether offering virtual health advice, online yoga or exercise classes, virtual book clubs, or reimbursements for wellbeing essentials, these benefits must be easy to access. And data is essential in determining which benefits are being utilized and which are no longer fit for purpose. Organizations should keep this in mind as they craft and refine their work from home (WFH) policies. Additionally, now more than ever enterprises must clearly communicate the support they offer to make sure every employee can fully utilize these benefits.

2. Helping employees stay connected

With 41% of employees likely to work from home at least part time after the pandemic, HR will need to make sure that employees continue to feel connected to their organizations. Employees’ social wellbeing is often overlooked, but is in dire need of support.  

Organizations should focus on providing benefits that help employees stay connected – to their colleagues and to their employers. Tech has become an essential enabler, helping organizations keep teams connected, and also deliver value-add benefits such as virtual team social events or guest speaker events.

3. Take full advantage of data analytics

There are a growing number of organizations, including Walmart, that are relying on analytics providers like Embold Health to find cost-efficient health plans using data. This is one of the many advantages of data analytics, and the pandemic has widened the gap between the have and the have nots when it comes to efficient and reliable data analytics solutions.

Benefits technology has provided HR teams with increasing amounts of data, but many aren’t using it effectively. HR teams that have real-time and easy access to robust benefits data are able to use that information to stay agile and pivot their strategy as needed to meet fluctuations in the demand of their workforce. This is especially important now in the wake of the pandemic, which has brought new benefits complexities to employers trying to cater to the needs of staff in multiple locations.

4. Elevate staff with new skills

The World Economic Forum estimates that at least 54% of employees will need to be reskilled or upskilled by 2022. By taking the time to provide online courses and virtual career development sessions today, enterprises can help staff continue to evolve and advance.

By taking the time to provide virtual learning today, enterprises can help staff evolve and advance even while working at home. As a result, they will be ready for the future of work – wherever it takes them.

Embrace the work from anywhere era

Organizations have an opportunity to strengthen their relationship with their employees no matter where they are working. They can start by ensuring that employee wellbeing continues to be a priority within the firm. Organizations can also help their employees stay productive by providing the necessary tools and training to optimize their remote working experience.

Further, employers can take advantage of data analytics to study how employees are interacting with their benefits. This data could allow them to reduce their expenses by eliminating unused or underutilized benefits to focus on offerings that employees want most.

Lastly, organizations should remember that even in these challenging times, employees still want to improve their skills and advance in their careers. Employers can continue to support their employees, wherever they are based, and make the best of the worst of times.

Digital Marketing Strategies to Achieve HR Goals in 2021

Human Resources is one of those departments whose importance and potential many companies undervalue, and many a time, HR goes by as a silo department that handles an occasional dispute and organizes vacation time. In reality, HR can be one of your most powerful tools for business growth and success, but you need to optimize its processes and include it in a variety of mission-critical objectives. When leveraged the right way, HR specialists can help sales, marketing, support, and every other team in your organization achieve better results.

Now, assuming that you already understand the importance of HR in the grand scheme of things, you should focus on achieving higher HR goals throughout 2021. This requires you to invest in HR-oriented marketing strategies that will help reach those goals, whether they are attracting better candidates, improving the employer brand, employee retention, or all of those and more. So today, let’s talk about HR-oriented digital marketing and how best to implement it to achieve your HR goals in 2021. 

Focusing on the right social channels

We live in a world driven by social media, and nowadays every company should have a social media presence. Given the fact that the social media market is constantly growing and that there are billions of people using social networks every day, it only stands to reason that you should use social to boost the performance of HR in 2021 and beyond. However, when it comes to HR, you have to be calculated and careful, because you don’t want to invest in the wrong social channels.

Social media marketing and management require human and financial resources, so it’s important to identify the social networks that are relevant to your HR goals. These will typically include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. You want to position relevant ads on these networks to get the attention of the right candidates, but you also want to publish on your accounts regularly on relevant HR topics. 

Optimizing the website to rank higher

Whether you run a strictly HR agency or you just want to prioritize achieving the HR goals within your organization, there is no denying that your website is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Before any candidate decides to reach out or act on your ads, they will most definitely research your website. They are not just looking for tangible and concrete information, they are looking to find out as much as they can about your brand, what it stands for, and what they can expect from you in the long run. Because remember, candidates are looking for security more than anything else during these trying times. 

That said, it’s not just about the user experience on the site, it’s also about making sure that your website is ranking high in the relevant search results. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on SEO, so it’s important to optimize your website with new, more relevant keywords and meta tags that will allow job-seekers to find your site easily and inspire Google to rank you higher. This is the kind of exposure you need in order to reach the best of the best. 

Dishing out niche HR-oriented content

Content marketing will continue to dominate the digital marketing realm in 2021 and without a doubt, the years to come as well. Simply put, there is no digital marketing nowadays without optimized storytelling, so it’s imperative that you keep dishing out top-quality content all year round. That said, next year you might want to prioritize an HR-oriented approach to your content strategy.

After all, were you to talk to an experienced marketer or research the best digital marketing agency in your industry and its content creation, you will quickly learn that content is goal-oriented, oftentimes focusing on the specific objectives of various departments. This includes HR objectives, of which there can be many, but all of which require visual and written content. Be sure to diversify your content creation and align it with your HR goals, and make sure to create long-form articles, images and infographics, as well as videos.

Improving your email marketing strategy

Email marketing is yet another powerful digital marketing tool, and you can use it to drive your HR department and your entire company forward in 2021. To achieve your HR goals, you need to optimize your internal and external email communication. After all, you not only want people to open the emails, but also to act on them and make positive decision.

To do this effectively, be sure to incorporate more visuals in your 2021 email strategy. Engage your designers to work with HR and marketers to craft more visually appealing emails that will guide the recipient towards a positive outcome and frame the design. The same rules of email copywriting apply as always, but in 2021 you want to complement that copy with engaging images, CTAs, infographics, and the like. 

Engaging candidates with your company’s culture

Lastly, you should use your company’s culture to paint a picture of your brand for candidates and your digital audience in general. Showcasing your amazing workplace culture through visual content is a great way to convey more information to those who might be interested in working with you, and it’s a great way to enrich your content marketing strategy. You can include authentic employee photos with your job listings as well as short videos of your workplace and your team to help the candidates visualize their potential future as a part of your brand.

Wrapping up

Your HR department has the potential to take your company forward as a whole, but to do so, you need to align it with your marketing team. Use these strategies to achieve your HR goals in 2021 and set the stage for success in the years to come.

survey

9 Employee Satisfaction Survey Questions That Will Reveal A Lot

Exploring employees’ satisfaction can be a daunting task— especially today, when work happiness is related to various factors. Different employees have different needs when it comes to the work environment. Therefore, the survey needs to consider the following: is the job meaningful or challenging enough, is the employee valued as a team member, and is there a balance between professional and personal growth?

When planning a satisfaction survey, consider some of the points below:

  • The goal of the survey – your questions should always support the purpose of the inquiry. Wherever you plan to do a quarterly check-up of the employees’ mood or annual performance review, tailor the query to the goal.
  • Indicators to watch – depending on the goal(s), indicators may vary far and wide. Use ones that translate to data more easily, like a self-assessment scale.
  • Guaranteed anonymity – Many people are uncomfortable with speaking directly, especially if the subject is sensitive. Make sure that answers are recorded confidentially.
  • Appropriate tools – In every job, you need the right tools to do it properly, and surveys are no exception. Use the best possible tools to obtain and keep the data. This is especially important if your company has a lot of employees.

Also, the question should be:

  • Short – long questions tend to confuse participants, and they can lose focus on the subject.
  • Non-implying – you do not need them to nod their heads. It would be best if you had their honest answers. Make sure that questions allow that.
  • Specific – resist the temptation to add several topics in one question. Each one should deal with one subject, allowing participants to stay focused.

What are the questions that will reveal a lot about the current state of your employees? Here are the ones that will offer the most inquiry.

  1. How would you rate your happiness at work on a scale of 1 to 10?

Research shows that happy workers are 13% more productive than the ones not satisfied with their workplace. Leave a possibility for them to elaborate on their choice so that you can get a better understanding of their current state of (un)happiness. If your employees rate their happiness low, use that info to initiate necessary changes.

  1. Would you consider your job meaningful?

Around 32% of people are staying with the company because of a meaningful job. If they perceive their job as meaningless, you will likely lose them even with increased salaries and benefits. Think about using employee engagement software to make it easier to analyze this aspect of work.

  1. How challenged are you at work daily, on a scale of 1 to 10?

Boredom is one of the prime motivation killers. If employees often get assignments that are below their capacity, they will start looking for opportunities elsewhere. Again, offer them the possibility to elaborate answers. For some, this may be a temporary situation if they are between the projects or the team is (re)organizing.

  1. How would you rate your work-life balance?

Rest and recovery are essential for the happiness and mental stability of the employees. Occasionally they may be asked to take overtime and help their team finish the job. Otherwise, there should be a clear distinction between work and rest time.

  1. Is there a space for personal growth?

Challenge is essential because it pushes people out of their comfort zone and enables growth. By acquiring new skills, your employees increase the chance for promotion and increase in salary. Professional development positively influences employee retention, so make sure your employees can learn and improve in the work setting.

  1. Is your team supportive and inspiring?

Cohesion is an important aspect of teamwork. If there is a lack of support from team members towards each other, the group will function below their capacity, and individuals will struggle with their tasks. If the team is lacking inspiration, collaboration, and creativity will also plummet.

  1. Would you recommend our company to your friends to work?

It is not just popular brands that thrive on word-of-mouth. The same goes for businesses, especially if the brand ambassadors are their employees. If they are not sure about recommending the company to others, it may be a sign they are rethinking their future with you. Try to get to the bottom of this to understand their motivation and needs better.

  1. Do you feel at home in our organizational culture?

Every company has its way of life, consisting of relations between employees and the work environment. Employees are expected to fit into it and find their comfort. A negative attitude towards it seriously affects productivity and satisfaction with work.

  1. Hypothetically, if you would quit today, what would be the main reason?

People usually quit because of job dissatisfaction or inadequate salary and benefits. But sometimes, it can be about working hours (the employee may need flexibility because of family issues) or coworkers (a conflict that has been brewing for some time). Make sure to find that one thing that may drive them away.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, so feel free to tailor your plan to help you fulfill your survey’s goal. Just be ready to act on the data you get and introduce change when necessary.

The Challenges of Pursuing Career Development During COVID-19

Image Source: Pexels

There’s no doubt that 2020 hasn’t looked the way we expected when we rang in the new year. However, that doesn’t mean all of your goals have to be set aside. It’s certainly a different world, but it’s still one where you can grow and progress in your career.

The challenge is finding the right opportunities. Discovering high-quality educational and developmental opportunities in this new environment isn’t easy. Fortunately, many organizations have adapted to COVID-19, and there are a variety of options available.

Here are some ideas you can use to pursue career training and development, even as you’re mostly stuck at home during COVID-19.

Determine What Options are Best for You

As we close out 2020, most learning opportunities are still remote. You’ll have access to video classes and online reading. For some professionals, that works well. However, not every learning style is well-suited for remote education.

Think about your style and preferences. Are you someone who can enjoy remote learning, or would you do better waiting until in-person classes and events are available? You know yourself better than anyone, and there’s no wrong answer.

Also, think about what your specific goals are. Are you looking to earn a particular accreditation? Do you want to finish your degree? Are you hoping to achieve an advanced degree, like an MBA or a Ph.D.? 

Depending on your position and career aspirations, you’ll have different aims. The answers to these questions will help you decide where to study, what institution to work with, and more.

Think About Learning Specific Skills

If a wholesale return to school doesn’t make sense for you, consider which individual skills you might enjoy learning. These can be for your personal benefit or to advance your career. Maybe the subjects you choose will do both!

Learning web design and other graphics skills can help you advance in your company or find new professional opportunities. They can also help you build a personal website or blog or showcase your artistic abilities. 

You might think about getting more skilled in specific software, such as Microsoft Suite or Google applications. Which programs your company uses can help you decide where to focus. If you’re planning a career shift, you can learn the skills you need to move forward into a new field.

Review Your Career Plans

It’s common to hit a point in your career where you feel stagnant. Maybe your company doesn’t offer the opportunities you hoped for, or you realize that this field isn’t one you really enjoy.

Don’t be shy about trying new things. You might even get into an entirely new industry. If you’re considering a hands-on field, like physical therapy or massage, be sure you review your educational options and make sure they’re safe in this time of COVID-19. 

There’s nothing wrong with changing course, even dramatically. Perhaps the downtime provided by this pandemic has given you time to rethink your larger goals. Or, maybe you were laid off or lost your job and now have the freedom to choose a new direction. 

If so, don’t be afraid to make a significant change. Having a career-oriented degree can help you land on your feet. You might choose data analysis, business, or a healthcare major. The key is to find a high-quality, reputable, and safe training program.

Take on Extra Projects

One excellent way to develop in your career is to stretch beyond your regular day-to-day duties. Is there a project that needs to be done but no one is stepping up? Why not you?

Taking on an additional project can help you stay busy while also boosting your resume and professional reputation. Perhaps it will move you toward a promotion, or you’ll gain experience that will help you land another opportunity. 

Projects can go hand-in-hand with learning new skills, as you may have a chance to practice doing something outside of your normal scope of work. New design skills? Leadership? Give it a try! 

Watch for In-Person Events to Return

As we move into 2021, there has been increasing talk of a vaccine and being able to return to life as normal. You can expect in-person events slowly to return, although attendance may be low at first.

If you’re someone who enjoys in-person networking and conferences, your opportunities may return in mid-2021. Take advantage of the chance to shake hands, meet people in person, and use your connections to advance your professional goals.

Working remotely can be stressful, especially for extroverts who thrive on human connection. Just keep your eyes looking forward — in-person events will eventually come back.

You Can Still Grow During COVID-19

Don’t let this pandemic cause you to give up on 2020. Instead, reevaluate the landscape and think about what you can do that will help you move forward.

When you’re clear on your goals and learning style, you’ll know if remote learning will work for you or if you should wait for a chance to attend in-person classes. Perhaps you can work on learning a specific skill and take on a project to practice using it in a business environment. 

If you’ve been laid off or lost your job, you have the chance to reevaluate your career and choose a new path. There are a variety of degrees and certificate programs that can help. 

2020 isn’t a bust. In fact, it may be the new opportunity you were looking for. Review your options and move forward! 

Opening the Office vs Working Remotely: Finding a Compromise

There are no two ways about it: the COVID-19 pandemic has brought havoc to hundreds of workplaces around the globe. Many have been forced to send employees home out of health concerns and those that have stayed open have put themselves and their employees at risk. Beyond that, most are dealing with boom-and-bust style business as customers either avoid their stores or buy in bulk to limit their exposure. 

 

To say a company hasn’t been impacted in some way would be naive.

 

Now businesses are under more pressure than ever to reopen. As already limited and confusing federal and state aid expires, most companies are finding themselves forced to decide between paying the bills and putting employees and customers at risk. Finding creative ways to strike a balance between staying remote and opening the doors has become a goal of most successful businesses.   

Staying Remote

Pros

There are certainly pros to staying as remote as possible. The primary one being that you are prioritizing employee safety and encouraging them to look after their and their family’s health. Focusing on taking care of employees and promoting a safe workplace for everyone is a valuable bonus both for employees and customers — some employees even love working from home so much they are hoping to do so permanently

 

Additionally, modern technology allows for employees in many sectors to do their jobs completely online. Likewise, employers can encourage their employees to capitalize on technology to keep track of their mental and physical health. The mental health aspect can be especially valuable when they are stuck working from home.  

Cons

Of course, there are some cons to stay remote as well. The biggest most employers are worried about is a decrease in overall productivity. This can come from several things such as an employee’s inability to easily communicate and collaborate with co-workers and partners. It could also be a problem associated with the many distractions that come from working from home. 

 

Many employers also feel as though their company culture is suffering while employees are working remotely. It can be challenging for employees to feel connected and part of a supportive workplace community. Fortunately, there are some ways to help maintain company culture while working remotely

Opening Offices

Pros

However, for some employees, the ability to get everything done while having employees work remotely is elusive at best. Some jobs simply require in-person service. For businesses that require some level of human interaction, opening up can be the only thing that will keep you afloat. And it might not be a bad thing — many people are eager to interact with their favorite stores in some way, even if it isn’t traditional.  

 

Many of the reasons that business owners are hesitant with continuing to work remotely are also major pros to reopening. You can more easily monitor the productivity of employees and work towards rebuilding company culture. The idea of moving back towards normal is also tantalizing and there are plenty of ways to be successful in reopening

Cons

The big elephant in the room for reopening is the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak in the office space. Forcing employees to come back and having an outbreak could bring all sorts of legal challenges to your business. This is especially true if your employees are completing high-risk jobs without proper protections.

 

Additionally, it can be a real issue for your company’s image down the road. Customers are not itching to go back to businesses that have experienced a COVID outbreak even after the risk has been mitigated. Choosing to open the doors too soon — especially with the massive rise in cases across the U.S. — could spell disaster for the company.  

Making a Decision

Deciding to keep employees working remotely or sending them back to work and reopening your public-facing business is really difficult. There are plenty of pros and cons to each choice, many of which could make or break your company. As you weigh your options, think about the risks, benefits, and needs of your company.

 

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your options either. To keep their businesses running, some companies have altered their products and services to make things that are in demand like hand sanitizer while others have greatly boosted their online services. Striking the right compromise may also involve switching things up for employees such as half coming into the office while half remain working from home. 

 

Weigh the pros and cons, choose what is right for your business and your employees. Sooner or later we will adapt and get through this difficult time and many companies will be better off for it. What have you been considering as a business leader and what has led you to make the decisions you are making?

How To Ensure Your Employees Are Treated Equally and Fairly

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

Equality Isn’t Always Fair

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

Always Be Prepared for Change

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Fairness Benefits Everyone

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Three strategic technology investments for a successful 2020

HR and benefits technologies are taking center stage in 2020, but what differentiates those that will be successful from those that will fail? How can businesses tell which to invest in versus those that are, at best, pie-in-the-sky concepts that aren’t ready for mass adoption?

 

The trial-and-error approach is no longer enough. If enterprises want to succeed, they’ll need technologies that not only propel organizations forward but can evolve with their growth and ever-changing needs. There will be many to evaluate in the years to come, but there are three that will prove to be especially important in 2020.

 

  1. Control expenses with benefits software

 

Employee benefits account for an enormous part of company expenditures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total compensation reached an hourly average of $34.77 for private industry workers. As expected, wages and salaries accounted for the majority of that spend (70.1%), amounting to $24.38 per hour. Benefits were also a significant cost, however, averaging $10.38 per hour (29.9%).

 

With so much money allocated toward benefits, employers can’t simply rely on disparate data streams and legacy systems. In doing so, enterprises will struggle to analyze the data that’s needed to unearth valuable, actionable insights. This is not an isolated problem – our own research shows that 48% of businesses find it difficult to report globally on their workforces. With nearly half of the companies struggling, it’s time to invest in benefits software that offers powerful data analytics capabilities. Only then will they be able to get a closer look at benefits expenditures and rein in these expenses.

 

This is more than a simple cost-cutting measure, however. Enterprises should not be looking to reduce their benefits, which are extremely important in fostering and maintaining employee loyalty. Rather, they should be focused on making smarter decisions, such as reducing waste. One company found that it was paying for 7,000 more health insurance policies than it actually needed. By discovering other unnecessary expenses, employers can save a tremendous amount of money without changing the benefits they offer.

 

  1. Reduce the administrative burden

 

Rewards programs are a great way for any business to show employees that they are valued and appreciated members of the team. But when multiple providers are involved, the administrative burden can multiply. Businesses might find themselves paying for more solutions than are actually necessary.

 

Enterprises should instead rely on one benefits management offering that can deliver an integrated solution. By providing everything that’s needed (corporate broking, benefits advising, employee helpdesk and technology) in a single place, businesses can offer outstanding rewards at a lower cost. This also makes it easier for employees to directly engage with their benefits, creating a more immersive experience between companies and their teams. In a world where engagement is having an increasingly strong impact on employee productivity and retention, this is absolutely essential. And by enlisting in a single solution that serves as the benefits broker, businesses can also negotiate the very best rates from benefits providers.

 

Enterprises can take this one step further by automating the employee benefits administration process. As a result, employees will be able to easily enroll for benefits online, eliminating waste (such as unnecessary paper forms) for the company. It also makes it easier for staff to quickly determine which benefits are available, allowing them to better select those that meet their coverage needs.

 

  1. Make the switch to predictive analytics

 

Prescriptive analytics have been the norm for several years, allowing employers to make smarter and more efficient decisions. Predictive analytics is the next frontier, giving firms the power to model and forecast future macro trends. As workforces age, for example, organizations will see an impact on both benefits expenses and requirements. An influx of newer, younger employees would also require some changes. The same is true as workforces become more global and diverse. In order to remain competitive, employers will need to adjust accordingly with every evolution.

 

These evolutions are not limited to a change in workforce alone, however. Preventative health screenings can also play a role, as well as a change in working practices. A company that implements new safety protocols, for example, could lower the number of accidents and thus reduce absenteeism. Predictive analytics can then be used to better match benefits to all of these changes.

 

Employers must also recognize that while data is invaluable, it should only be obtained after receiving employee consent. The California Consumer Privacy Act is one of the first legislative reminders that employee data is not only useful but very sensitive information. Organizations that wish to use it must earn and maintain the trust of its employees, both in how the data is utilized and how it is stored.

 

The time is now

 

The new year represents an opportunity for enterprises to take charge of their benefits offerings by investing in the right technologies. Whether looking to reduce costs or striving to lower the administrative burden, now is the time to take action. A single benefits management solution can prove to be invaluable in overcoming these and other issues. At the same time, predictive analytics can provide an unprecedented ability to model and forecast future macro trends.

Benefits of Transitioning to a Remote Workforce

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

 

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


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

The Pros and Cons of Remote Working

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Encouraging a Work-Life Balance

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

How Can Businesses Benefit?

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

 

  • Communication
  • Performance tracking
  • Security

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Supporting Diversity & Inclusion Through Benefits

By Chris Bruce, MD and co-founder, Thomsons Online Benefits

 

Last year, 800+ executives in the U.S. pledged to make elevating diversity and inclusion a workplace priority. This work is crucial, especially in Silicon Valley where half of startups still do not have any women in their leadership teams. Attracting and retaining diverse talent can be challenging, but it’s imperative that HR teams use all resources available to them in this effort, and that processes are in place to ensure female talent is nurtured, developed and has equal opportunity to progress in the organization.

 

Employee benefits can play a critical role in ensuring everyone feels included and cared for. Here’s how, from data analytics to benefits personalization, companies can use technology and benefits programs to create an employee benefits proposition that appeals to all.

 

Personalizing through wellness pots

 

Instead of using a one-size-fits-all solution that may only serve the needs of a limited number of employees, wellness pots can serve differing interests and needs. Companies offering wellness pots to support employees’ mental and physical wellbeing are automatically ahead of the curve. These employees are able to spend their wellness pot contribution on the benefits offerings that best support their diverse interests and needs. For example, one employee might take personal training, another could join a mindfulness program and a third take up drumming lessons. Not only do people feel better supported, but they have even more reason to regularly engage with their benefits which can lead to them using and valuing them more.

 

Employing data and analytics

 

To help companies make better decisions to support D&I, those that use pulse surveys to gather feedback from employees should begin segmenting the data by gender, generation, ethnicity, geography, and any other relevant subsection within the company. Not only does this give HR the opportunity to be proactive, but by only looking at total numbers there is a risk of missing  opportunities to identify and fix issues for specific groups.

 

Additionally, there’s a wide range of data available to employers from benefits software that many are not taking advantage of. For example, our research showed that only 48% of organizations measure benefit take up levels and 46% measure employee wellbeing. Companies are however beginning to understand just how important data and analytics are. Over a quarter of respondents are intending to begin collecting this information on benefits take-up and program engagement this yea. Combining the qualitative data from surveys with the quantitative data that can be derived from benefits technology, can create a powerful tool for HR and benefits teams.

 

Increasing flexibility

 

Another way to support all employees is by offering ‘floating’ PTO days to accommodate all employees’ civic or cultural preferences. For example, employees could choose to switch out their Presidents Day holiday for Election Day. What’s more, employers can also give the option to work remotely when needed to accommodate employee needs if something of importance to an individual worker, like an Ash Wednesday service, won’t take the entire day.

 

What’s more, those who work from home have been shown to be more productive, working an additional 1.4 more days per month, although it will be seen in the coming months how productivity is impacted under the new circumstances of working from home due to COVID-19. This is a win-win for both employees and employers and should alleviate any fears around productivity and flexible working. Beyond that, there can be additional long-term payoffs for companies that are sure to be inclusive: our research found that 80% of HR decision makers believe that flexible working arrangements are important when considering talent retention.

 

The bottom line

 

Research has found that 85% of candidates ask about benefits at some point in the interview process so as a key talent attraction tool they must be strategically planned if they are to effectively support D&I right from the start of the employee journey. With this in mind, employers must make their benefits more relevant, easier to access and more engaging in order to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding and diverse workforce. Only then will every employee – of any age, from any location, of any background or culture – be able to get the most out of their benefits and really feel their value.

 

 

 

Tips for Creating a Productive Home Office

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Setting the Scene for Success

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

 

  • Zoom
  • GoTo Meeting
  • Google Hangouts

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Maintaining Your Motivation

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Be a Resource for Remote Working

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

 

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

 

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

 

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