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!

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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.

How to Plan a Successful Networking Event

Building your company’s profile can be a challenge. The marketing department only has so much control, but the overall image of your business can impact how well you attract and retain top talent.

Fortunately, you can make a big splash without having to run a significant PR campaign. By planning and hosting a successful networking event, you can position your company as a leader in your community and your industry.

What makes networking so powerful? And how can you ensure that it will be successful? Here’s what you need to know.

The Power of Networking

You may be tempted to think that networking is best suited to a time when you, as an individual, are looking to break into a new field or a new position. The truth is that a strong network can give you a competitive edge at every stage in your career, and this includes every stage of a business. Keep this in mind as you plan your networking event. Help people get the most out of the experience by providing tips on how to network successfully.

You can emphasize the practice of soft skills such as eye contact, positive body language, and listening. Encourage attendees to ask targeted questions and show genuine interest in the people they meet. Most of all, be a valuable resource for those who attend and continue to keep in touch after the event is over. Your organization should be building long-term relationships, after all!

As you think about who to invite and who should speak, consider those who have a lot of awareness of your industry and its challenges. These could be people within your company, or you can invite speakers from other areas within the business. Be sure to include people with a variety of backgrounds, such as cultural, gender, educational levels, and more.

A successful networking event can help put your company on the map with potential customers, employees, and others in your community. People love to talk about the great events they’ve been to, so you gain exposure well beyond the attendees.

Make it Easy to Sign Up

The tech behind your enrollment and reminders can be one of the best assets you have for your event. Not only is it easy for attendees to use, but it will also hold a wealth of information about the people at your event that you can capitalize on later.

Of course, you need an idea of the headcount so you can plan your event accordingly, but don’t overlook the contact information you gather. These people are the potential employees, clients, and connections that your business needs to grow and move forward.

Once folks arrive, have them check in even if the event is free. This allows you to see how many people actually attended compared to who signed up. Create badges from the registration data that you can scan before speaker sessions. This will allow you to see what sessions were the most successful. You can then follow up and get feedback on the event and connect more closely with attendees. With excellent networking on your part during and after the event, you’re much more likely to win new clients and attract high-quality employees to your organization.

 

Choose a Great Location

If your building has an appropriate gathering space, you can hold the networking event at your own location. However, most of the time it’s better to choose an upscale venue that’s nearby, such as a hotel.

An upscale venue gives a sense of professionalism and special access to the event. This helps attendees feel important and facilitates a strong connection to your brand. You can also have a larger event due to the space available in hotels, and the accommodations offer a place to stay for guests who travel to attend.

Find out what options you have for low-cost or even free events at the hotel. For instance, if you hold it near the hotel bar, you may be able to get a lower price. Be sure to choose your date wisely – you don’t want to overlap an important local event or game that may cause the hotel to be less flexible with you.

Choose an Effective Format

How is your networking event going to operate? Unless everyone already knows each other well, simply tossing a bunch of people into a room isn’t likely to be effective.

Choose one or more high-quality speakers to anchor the event who can give tips and tricks about industry topics. This can be a big incentive to attend and gives people something to organize the evening around. For a more creative option, organize a group activity that encourages interaction and cooperation, such as a cooking class or local tour.

Before and after the structured activities, encourage people to chat and share information. You can set up an official format for this, like “speed networking” where people meet for two minutes and then swap, or you can let it happen more naturally.

To keep things moving, have some of your team work to engage those who inevitably hang back. Knowing how to encourage introverts to network can be very helpful.

Evaluate Your Success

Once you’ve held your event, it’s time to look at how things went and what you learned. Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly – it can be hard to know right away whether your event was successful. The time it takes to build relationships means that you won’t know immediately if you’ve successfully gained new clients or high-quality applicants from your event. It might be weeks or months before this particular effort bears fruit.

To measure your results, keep track of your follow-up with those who attended. Make a special effort to connect with ideal clients or high-quality job candidates. Take note of how many become new customers or employees over time.

You also need to learn from any you made and what you want to do differently next time. Be sure to record those insights with your coworkers, so that you or the next event team can remember those lessons and improve the next networking experience.

Build Your Business With Networking

Networking events go a long way to boost the profile of your company. This not only helps you attract and retain the best employees, but it can also lead to additional clients or customers as well. You will also gain respect from others in your industry.

This can make a big difference, not only for your company but for your own career. You’ll be building new relationships for yourself as well as for your business.

Are you ready to make a splash in your industry? If so, get started planning a networking event today. Everyone will benefit, and it will create a lot of buzz in your community.

The Importance of a Good Coffee Machine in the Working Place

Having a good workplace goes beyond working in a clean and sterile environment. In today’s world, it’s simply not enough to have a stack of cubicles in a room and call it an office. The modern employer knows that the key to productivity and success is keeping their employee happy and treating them like human beings, not just closing them off from each other and expecting results.

This is the main reason modern offices have such elaborate designs and often look very quirky. You don’t need to be eccentric to make your employees happy, though. A few key components are enough to make them love going to work and look forward to each new day in the office. One of those components is the coffee machine.

Though it seems simple enough, a good coffee machine has the power to transform the entire office attitude and make your employees much brighter. Such a common piece of equipment will be the light in your workers’ days as it will give them an energy and motivation boost when they most need it.

1. It keeps things moving

Things at work seem to be running smoothly, and then everything just stops. People run into a problem they can’t solve only to spend the rest of the day trying to figure it out. The more they rack their brain, the further away the answer seems to be. When working on something complex and important, it’s very easy to get stuck in a rut and lose yourself in your own brain. The path to a solution seems doesn’t seem like it exists.

In some cases, it’s enough to get a fresh pair of eyes on the issue and find the solution together. What do you do in the cases where the whole office is exhausted and looking for the same way out as you? This is especially an issue when we’re talking about team projects. When the whole team is down, the whole project will be too.

Sometimes the project or assignment can be so complex that it takes days to figure it out. Though, most times it takes days just because people are reluctant to give up. They don’t realize that taking a rest would help them reach the solution, as they feel useless and unproductive when they’re not working towards a solution.

This is where the coffee machine comes in. It could very well be the thing that saves your team from countless unproductive hours in the office. Coffee has the power to reset our brains and make them start working again. When you’re too exhausted to think, you need something to do it for you. A fresh cup of coffee will be exactly what you need.

Making someone do a coffee run just feels like wasting more time, but the office coffee machine will provide what everyone needs in heartbeat. If you opt for the models which can serve more people at once, the whole team can have their favourite cup of coffee in front of them at the same time. They’ll be able to get straight back to work with a rewired brain and find a solution much more quickly.

2. It gives them something in common

Offices, especially big ones, are full of very different people. This is something very normal, as not all the same personalities will ever work in the same office. It’s also a good thing because it’s ground for more creativity and productivity. People solve problems more easily and they finish projects more quickly when they look at all the different perspectives of one issue. That’s only possible with a diverse and competent team.

Though that all may sound fine and dandy, it can create a very cold and professional office. No one will know how to connect to and talk to someone else when it seems like they’ve got nothing in common. Instead of a community, your office becomes just a place where people can’t wait to get out of.

This can also contribute to feelings of isolation and make individuals feel uncomfortable while at work. In the long run, all this does is put a damper on productivity and make employees miserable. To avoid such an outcome, you’ll need to give them something in common.

With all those different personalities present, it can be very hard figuring out what exactly they all have in common. That is, it’s very hard until you realize that our society basically runs on coffee. There are virtually no people who don’t drink coffee on a daily basis, meaning everyone will have something in common.

By adding a coffee machine, you’re giving people a conversation opener. The coffee machine chats will replace the old-timey water cooler chats and encourage communication and socialization in the workplace. The conversation may start by one employee asking another how they take their coffee, only to transform into something more meaningful and friendly. The coffee machine truly is the first step to making life-long friends.

3. It gives them an energy boost

Flickering levels of energy are always the biggest danger in the workplace. When someone is physically exhausted, it gets a lot harder to think and focus on work. Whether the employee didn’t have a good night’s sleep or they’re missing their afternoon nap- the effects are the same. To make your employees more alert, you need to give them an energy source.

Now, though the idea of nap quarters in the office sounds appealing, it’s very inconvenient and inconceivable. Thankfully, there’s another energy source you can provide for your employees: the coffee machine. 

Whether they use it on their lunch break, when they first get in, or anywhere in between, you’ll be sure it’s doing its job exceptionally well. Coffee is like a reset switch for the body. As soon as we drink coffee, we feel more refreshed and ready to get back to work.

We don’t feel physically tired anymore but are instead eager to get on with our days. The body is once again able to follow the ambitiousness of the brain and help us reach success. So, by pushing the body forward, it actually contributes to the increase in productivity employers are always after.

For some, the cup or two of coffee that they have in the office is enough to get them to the end of the day. That cup is the reason they make their deadlines and are able to go home not feeling exhausted. The coffee allows them to power through another hard day and come out a winner.

4. It gives them something to look forward to

Being stuck in the office all day isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of fun. Most people lose motivation in the middle of the day because they’re simply overwhelmed by the amount of work they need to do and have already done. The only thing they have to look forward to is their breaks at this point. When there’s nothing to do in the break room, the employee will sit mindlessly for their lunch over of five-minute break and sink into tiredness even more.

This isn’t a very nice way to relax your brain. You’ve been staring at the screen for the whole day and now you’re just wallowing in exhaustion. All you want at that moment is to rest your head either by watching something stupid on TV or going directly to bed. That’s the exact opposite attitude of what you want in the workplace and is a sure way of creating zombies.

To avoid this, you have to give your people something to look forward to. Having a coffee machine changes the game entirely. This gives your employees something nice to look forward to on their breaks. It’s crucial to have a coffee machine which can support the needs of your staff, though. You want to provide good service for each member of the team and keep them all on their toes throughout the day.

That’s why it’s not a bad idea to look at high-shelf firms for quality espresso coffee machine, as these firms offer exactly what you need- good service and fine-tasting coffee with a press of a button. A healthy break for your employee suddenly isn’t so far away. They get to take 10 minutes to just collect their thoughts and get their brain running again. Zombie apocalypse- successfully avoided!

5. It spices up the break room

The design of the break room can always use an update. Let’s face it, most break rooms aren’t very pretty or nice. They’re packed with seating furniture or only have one table and a few chairs. The kitchen equipment is mediocre at best, and the fridge always makes that weird sound. This isn’t really an environment you want to spend all of your breaks in.

You don’t have to change the entire design and spend a lot of dough on a makeover, though. Start adding new things to spice up the place one by one. The first item on the agenda will be the coffee machine.

Professional coffee machines for offices are usually designed in such a way that they don’t take up a lot of counter space, making them perfect for every break room. As well as that, they usually have an interesting and colourful design that can light up the whole area.

Your break room suddenly won’t seem so drab and boring when it’s got one hell of a coffee machine as its centrepiece.

Conclusion

The human race takes a lot of things for granted and the coffee machine is one of them. Coffee is the centre of our culture, regardless of where you come from. It’s an excuse to see the people you love or ask someone out, an opportunity to meet new people, and a way to remind yourself that you’re not alone in this world.

On a more personal level, coffee wakes up all our senses, makes us more awake, and gives us the confidence and motivation to tackle every challenge laid in front of us. Once you put in the coffee machine, you won’t be able to recognize your staff. It really will be the thing to tie the whole place together and give it meaning.

Workplace Injury: How to Be Prepared

Image Source: Pixabay

Your boss asks you to help move a few boxes. Before you even think about it, you bend over at the waist to pick up the load and feel a severe stabbing pain in your back that takes your breath away. You slowly stand up straight, but all you see are stars circling your head like in the cartoons. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-often occurrence in many offices across the country, and it can affect the work performance of any employee. You might not even realize that this is a workplace injury and you have the right to healthcare and possibly compensation if this would ever happen to you. 

 

Many people think that workplace injuries only happen at construction sites or in factories. However, many of the most common workplace injuries, such as sprains, strains, and lacerations can happen just about anywhere. Here are the essentials you need to know to keep yourself and your workplace safe. 

Understanding Workplace Injuries

According to the National Safety Council, one person is injured on the job every seven seconds in the U.S. That means that throughout one year, there are 4.5 million injuries. These injuries range from “treat and street” issues where you might be seen in a clinic or emergency room and then sent home to severe life-altering injuries and illnesses or even death. 

 

Injuries that occur the most frequently don’t cause severe damage; in fact, many of them don’t even cause visible problems. The top three workplace injuries that cause workers to miss days from work are those that include overexertion, such as lifting a box that’s too heavy, contact with an object or equipment, and slips, trips, and falls. Other common occurrences that can take you out of commission include poor body mechanics and environmental hazards such as wet floors or icy sidewalks.

Prevention is Key

While you don’t have to be an occupational health and safety specialist to spot an unsafe situation, working with one to create safety plans is never a bad idea. Since the top injuries are common occurrences, most of them can be prevented by following a few simple safety tips. Check out these three ways to keep yourself and coworkers safe at work:

Be Aware

Seeing and reporting trip hazards like cords across a walkway or a spill in the cafeteria doesn’t take any particular skill. If you notice anything in your office that might be a safety issue, fix it if you can. If it’s a more significant issue, such as clutter blocking a fire exit or an overflowing toilet, be sure to report it to your supervisor or internal safety committee, if you have one. 

Protect Your Back

Back injuries are common, and once you have an injury, your risk of re-injury increases three to five times. The good news about back injuries is that most of them are preventable. Use these lifting and back injury tips if you need to lift a box or other heavy object around the office:

 

  • Stretch before lifting heavy objects.
  • Make sure you’re wearing safe, closed-toe shoes with good traction when lifting.
  • Use a dolly or pushcart if carrying the object a long distance.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Divide large loads into smaller ones, if possible.
  • Carry the object as close to your body as you can. 

Reduce Workplace Stress

Let’s face it: work is stressful. When you start feeling burned out at work, you might struggle to concentrate or rush through tasks, both of which can increase your risk of injuries. 

 

If you need to decrease your stress levels at work, try at least one of these four strategies:

  • Choose healthy foods so that you get the nutrition you need. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, like nicotine.
  • Aim for eight hours of sleep every night.
  • Plan regular breaks throughout the workday and try to get the most important tasks done before lunch.
  • Live a happy life by adopting a few holistic ways to live, such as regular trips to the chiropractor or massage therapist and aromatherapy.

What to Do if You Get Hurt

Even if you do all of the right things to create balance in a world full of movement — sometimes accidents just happen. If you’re injured at work, you should always report the accident immediately. What might feel like a minor ache or pain today could make it difficult to get out of bed tomorrow. Many states only allow injuries to be reported within a specific time frame for you to receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer. This is why notifying your supervisor promptly is critical.

 

You might live in a state that requires accident reports be in writing. While some states allow reports to be verbal, it’s always best to write out what happened and turn it into your supervisor. Almost all employers are required by law to have workers compensation insurance. If your injury is significant and you have to miss work, be sure to talk to your employer about their worker’s compensation policy and seek legal counsel if they tell you that they don’t have one. 

 

If you’re hurt at work, any medical treatment you need should be covered by your employer’s policy. You might also be entitled to lost wages if you have to miss work for an extended period. However, every state is a bit different, so you’ll need to check with your employer to be certain. To make sure that you’re always covered regardless of the causes of an injury or illness, it’s a good idea to consider long-term or short-term disability insurance, too. 

Keeping Safe

Being hurt is never fun. However, by implementing these simple workplace safety tips and tricks in your office, you and your co-workers will be safe and prepared. And in the unfortunate event that you are injured at work, know that you have options to ensure that the company you work will cover you. 

The Role of AI in Human Resources

Author: Kim Coombs, Talent Director, EMEA at Riverbed Technology

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is improving human resources (HR), streamlining processes and empowering employees to perform better. Employee data that was once banished to the archives can now be combined with the huge volume of data running through a business’ network to identify talent gaps, learning and development initiatives and provide recommendations to HR professionals and managers.

It is becoming clear that the future success of businesses will be defined by how well they are able to optimise the combination of human and automated work.

There have been some controversial headlines surrounding automation in the workplace and earlier this year, the World Economic Forum projected that the demand for ‘unique’ human skills will grow. While its research suggests 75 million current jobs will be displaced as artificial intelligence takes over more routine aspects of work, 133 million new jobs will be created. This report concludes that skills in both emotional intelligence and technical intelligence – like technology design and programming – will be essential for the future workforce.

HR needs to help employees strengthen their core skills and capabilities through targeted training or development initiatives. On top of this, they are responsible for proactive candidate selection as part of the recruitment process, which involves an excessive amount of time, resource and admin. AI is opening up new opportunities to enhance the human experience and is expanding the remit of the HR function within a business. It is important for business leaders to consider the introduction of AI-led infrastructure as an opportunity to improve existing, outdated, and sometimes archaic processes and message the benefits of these changes down to their managers and employees.

Kim Coombs photo1
Kim Coombs, Talent Director, EMEA at Riverbed Technology

The human experience

With the introduction of AI, businesses are positioned better than ever to improve their employees’ human experience. In the modern enterprise, AI is already beginning to streamline admin heavy tasks to free up time for employees to focus on adding value to the broader business.

For example, team leaders and middle management are often required to make the same decisions over and over again, including approving time off requests, approving timecard exceptions and scheduling staff. If you speak to managers performing these tasks, you will often find their perspective is the same: they are repetitive, time-consuming, and while relevant, deliver little value. These are precisely the tasks that AI can tackle first —  the routine, daily, difficult processes that will free up the manager to handle more strategic management matters.

With less time spent on the high touch, low value tasks, managers can be far more aligned with their employees’ needs, boosting employee wellbeing and increasing staff retention. In addition to the general alleviation of admin, AI is also making huge strides in the realms of learning and development.

 

Training talent

There is no “one size fits all” approach to learning and development. As the war on talent grows ever more competitive, organisations that can provide their employees tailored opportunities to grow will set themselves apart. Traditionally doing this has involved significant manual workforce auditing and data analysis before programmes can be put in place. However, with the latest developments in predictive and prescriptive analytics, this heavy lifting no longer falls within the remit of the HR team.

AI has the power to monitor business performance and create bespoke suggestions around talent management and recruitment. This technology feeds off data so unfortunately this is redundant if HR does not engage with the technology and embed AI into the workforce’s natural workflow. The more HR engages with the technology and nourishes it with use cases; the more mature the artificial decision making will become. Supporting use on this scale requires a significant cultural shift. Once this shift occurs, HR can begin to embrace more creative and engaging ways to implement learning and development, with actionable data points already provided for them.

 

Combined intelligence

It will be a combination of human and artificial intelligence that will ultimately drive success for the future enterprise. For an AI implementation to demonstrate its full worth, businesses need to first fully embrace digital change in every aspect of their business. Any system is only as fast as its slowest link, and the goal of using AI to free up managers to solve more substantial organisational challenges will never be achieved if manual, high-touch processes and policies remain.

Staff must be onboarded and reskilled effectively. The IT infrastructure should be able to support higher volumes of data, and senior management needs to ensure digital transformation initiatives are given adequate funding and support.

As AI alleviates admin heavy tasks, roles and responsibilities will begin to shift, enabling the workforce to add a significant layer of additional value to their business. More importantly, workers will be able to focus on tasks that are far more engaging and fulfilling. This can only be achieved if HR teams begin to adopt this technology and implement new processes to support AI adoption in the wider business. The winner in all of this will ultimately prove to be the human experience.

About Workers’ Compensation for HR Administrators

How well do you know the facts about workers’ compensation? Regardless of your business, there is always the chance that a worker can get hurt on the job. If they are, you want to be sure that your company is prepared to proceed appropriately.

Workers’ compensation helps employers and employees alike, so all human resource administrators should brush up on state regulations and know how to tackle a workplace incident. Here is a workers’ comp refresher for those new to HR.

What Employers Need to Know

In general, workers’ compensation is a program meant to protect employees and employers alike when a worker is involved in an accident that results in harm or prevents them from working in the future. The first responsibility of the employer is to have workers’ comp insurance, which is required by most states for a majority of companies, with the usual exception of independent contractors. This type of insurance is instrumental in preventing lawsuits in civil court. 

To prevent a claim from getting to that point, workers’ compensation insurance provides wage and medical benefits based on the requirements of the state in which they work. The insurance also pays death benefits to the families of employees who die on the job. However, there are circumstances that insurance doesn’t cover including intentionally sustained injuries, injuries while intoxicated, and emotional harm.

If an employee is injured on the job, it is important to remember that they cannot be denied medical care. Also, if there is a legitimate claim, then the employer must bring the employee back once they are ready to return to work. Most importantly, a company should not hold any grudge or retaliate against an employee for filing a claim. It is their right to get the help they need, and failure to comply could result in a lawsuit.

Employee Responsibilities and Claims

When an employee gets hurt on the job, they have a responsibility to report the injury immediately to your HR department. HR will then take a detailed report of the incident, including the date and time, the type of injury, and where it happened. If it is an emergency, the employee should be brought to the hospital. For less threatening injuries, they should consult a doctor. In any case, a medical report is needed.

HR is responsible for providing all necessary forms to the employee, including insurance forms and information about their rights, as well as what happens when they are ready to return to work. A claim is then filed with the insurance carrier, and it is there that the claim is either approved or denied. If it is approved, the employee will get an offer or settlement for their damages. If it is denied, then the employee can appeal.

During this time, the company must keep the job open for the potential return of the worker. If the employee cannot return to work due to disability, then the insurance company may continue paying benefits for an undetermined amount of time. All records of the claim must be filed by the employer and kept for a pre-set amount of time as determined by your state laws, which is usually a number of years.

How to Prevent Workers’ Comp Claims

It is very important for employers to not take a workers’ comp claim personally or hold it against the employee. Not only is it the law to avoid doing so, but the employee isn’t out to get you. Instead, they are only trying to get the monetary amount that will allow them to take care of themselves and their family. The best defense against workers’ comp claims is to have a proactive approach and a safe work environment.

Create a culture of safety at your workplace where everyone watches out for one another, and any hazards are immediately reported. Hold safety meetings on a regular basis where you reward employees for meeting safety goals. Create posters and signage to remind employees of general hazards and make sure all hazardous materials are properly attended to and labeled.

Even if you have all of these processes in place, it is possible that an employee could still get hurt by doing repetitive processes without proper safety precautions. Not lifting heavy items properly, using a computer for long periods of time without proper support, and standing in one place for too long can all result in common injuries ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to bursitis, which affects the joints.

Keep in mind that not all states cover repetitive motion injuries, so be aware of your state laws when filing. Regardless of the state law, as HR administrators, ensure that all employees are taking their regularly scheduled breaks, sitting in proper chairs that encourage good posture, and are using an ergonomic mouse that reduces the risk of carpal tunnel.

When it comes to the well-being of your employees, extensive knowledge of state laws and policies is a must. Be informed about workers’ compensation, so your employees can get the care they deserve.

How to Fast Forward your Employee’s Career

Your employees’ professional growth doesn’t happen overnight. Developing people’s skills needs investment of thought, time and love in order to create meaningful change. Ideally a manager becomes a mentor. They provide guidance and coaching to evolve employee skill-sets, knowledge and confidence. With managers acting as the catalyst for progression, we’ve pinpointed five ways to effectively advance your employee’s career path.

Align your business goals

When you’re working closely with your employees, don’t forget to feed back the “bigger picture” to them. You can coach people in leadership qualities all day long but it’s pointless if you’re not communicating why. Employees motivation to excel can diminish if they don’t feel valued or believe they can create an impact for the company. Realistically, how empowered would your employees feel if they’re given the freedom to make smart, informed decisions however they still need to run their ideas by you before making moves? Communicate the objectives and company goals before anything else, and provide freedom for them to actually reach these.

Create a career development plan

Having conversations around career progressions is the first step in gauging employee development, but it’s important to follow up with implementing achievable objectives. This encourages employees to formulate their goals so they can actively execute them. Create a space where you can collaborate openly on short-term and long-term career goals and most importantly how these can be achieved. If you’re not sure where role progression can evolve, check out Search Party’s Career Path Tool to see all possible options.

Articulate expectations

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a popular technique to setting and communicating goals and results in organisations. The main purpose for OKRs is to connect the company, team and individual’s personal objectives to measurable results, ensuring everyone is moving in the right direction. The structure is fairly straightforward.

  • Define 3-5 key objectives on company, team or personal levels. These must be qualitative, ambitious and time bound.
  • Under each objective, define 3-4 measurable results based on growth performance, revenue or engagement.

When OKRs are a place and remain transparent across all teams, employees have complete clarity of knowing what’s expected of them and have something to work towards. Defining these can take into account career progressions or onboarding new responsibilities or projects and when you’re able to measure you’re also able to mentor. No wonder OKR’s are loved by tech giants like Google, Twitter, and Oracle. It’s a proven process that genuinely works.

Actively identify new opportunities within the organisation

When employees begin to seek new experiences or want to build their portfolio of skill-sets, 9 times out of 10 they’ll leave their current organisation rather than take on a new role in a different area within their current company. And it’s no surprise that losing talent and re-training new starters is timely and costly for managers. However this behaviour can be avoided if there is real encouragement and facilitation of internal transfers. Speak with the individual about what skills they would like to gain or areas they wish to excel in and then identify all possible new opportunities and paths they can explore within the organisation. Mentors are those who can look beyond their own areas or personal needs for growth opportunities, even if it means they’re losing a great asset.

Encourage developmental assignments

Developmental assignments come from the opportunity to initiate something new that an employee takes the majority of the reigns with. Internal projects, new product lines or championing a change such as adopting new technology or a restructure in workflows are all great ways to allow employees to step outside of their comfort zones. These kind of initiatives are the gateway into harbouring new skill-sets and embracing areas not usual to their daily tasks. Enabling employees to lead or manage side projects or totally new initiatives are the stepping stones into project management fields and opens a huge number of doors into other leadership roles.

Although most CEOs understand the importance of employee development, the sad truth is that they don’t devote the necessary time into excelling them into greater things. But the proof really is in the pudding. The more effort you put into developing employees, the higher the employee retention, productivity, engagement, turnover…the list goes on!

If you’re unsure as to where career progression can take you or your employees, Search Party have developed a nifty Career Path Tool. Simply type in your current role, and see how careers of people who’ve been in your shoes developed. Or, type in your dream job and see which paths can take you there. Check it out and let us know what you think!


Originally published by Search Party on 29 August 2016.

New ServiceNow Research Highlights What Employees Really Want

Perks at work have become a source of pride and a competitive differentiator for companies vying for top talent. Stocked fridges, catered meals, on‑site fitness facilities, laundry services and complimentary transportation are just a handful of popular perks companies offer to lure new employees. But according to new research by ServiceNow, an effective way to build an engaged and productive workforce is giving employees a better employee service experience during big moments and even small ones in between.

ServiceNow’s “The Employee Experience Imperative” Report, which studies the service experience at work, reveals that employee enthusiasm for work peaks at the start of a new job, but wanes by 22% shortly thereafter. Where are employers missing the mark? The findings tell us that employers aren’t supporting employee’s basic needs on a day‑to‑day basis during the employee lifecycle: 41% still struggle to obtain information and answers to basic questions, like finding a company policy or resolving an issue with their equipment. Furthermore, only 41% believe their employers make it easy to select their equipment before their first day and only 51% of employees believe their employers make it easy to receive equipment necessary to perform their job responsibilities at the onset of their job.

Employees today – regardless of their role or generation – want to be heard and valued, and they want an employee experience that suits their needs throughout their career with an organization,” said Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow. “If an employee’s experience is lacking at the onset of their new job, the impact for some employees can likely be felt until the employee’s last day. By creating beautiful and meaningful experiences and an environment where work gets done efficiently, employers will benefit from a more engaged and productive workforce.”

Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer, ServiceNow
Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow

Where Can Employers Improve? Mobile Work Experiences

One‑third of our lives is spent at work. And, employees want their experiences at work to be more like their experiences at home – like having mobile technology at their fingertips to make finding information and accomplishing tasks simple, easy and convenient. In fact, more than half (54%) of employees expect their employers to offer mobile‑optimized tools at work. Yet, the majority (67%) report not finding it easy to complete necessary paperwork on a mobile device before their first day and only about half (52%) of employees have been allowed to use a smartphone or tablet to access employee tools from HR or other departments. However, those who do have such access self‑report higher productivity than those without these mobility tools. This is a miss for employers who haven’t yet introduced mobile self‑service to their workforce, especially for those aiming to retain and attract millennials, as over half (59%) expect employers to provide mobile‑optimized tools.

A Generation Gap? It’s Smaller at Work Than You’d Think

Baby boomers and millennials aren’t so different at work, after all. Across the four generations that comprise today’s workforce – baby boomers, Gen‑Zs, millennials and Gen‑Xs – employees want a better experience at work. The research found that, across generations and departments, employees are losing faith in their employers to deliver positive employee experiences:

  • Less than half (48%) of employees believe that employers are invested in improving the employee experience;
  • More than half (61%) of employees rate their employers poorly based on a negative experience with personal leave;
  • Less than half (45%) of employees feel that their opinions and perspective matter to their employer. However, millennials (43%) are more optimistic that employers will address feedback when compared to baby boomers (35%);
  • Only 37% of employees believe that employers automate processes to improve the worker experience; and
  • Less than half (44%) of employees believe employers provide them with easy access to information from HR and other departments; the same number felt they did not have access to the information vital to their job on day one.

A positive experience at work strongly correlates high employee net promoter scores (eNPS)– meaning, employees that create great employee experiences are likely to have more loyal, satisfied employees. That’s real business value.