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?

The Importance of Prioritizing Employee Health

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

 

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

Healthy Employees are Productive Employees

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

 

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

 

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

Don’t Forget Mental Health

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

 

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

 

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

Safety During COVID-19

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

How To Ensure Your Employees Are Treated Equally and Fairly

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

Equality Isn’t Always Fair

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

Always Be Prepared for Change

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Fairness Benefits Everyone

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

How Did COVID 19 Affect People with Disabilities

COVID 19 presents a global threat, and the pandemic is particularly dangerous for many groups, including the elderly, people who already have a health condition, and people with disabilities. Everyone in the world is affected by this crisis in some way or another.

The risks are not just health-related. The global economy has suffered a lot thanks to the virus, and many people are endangered, as they can’t provide for themselves and their families. Some people are given opportunities to work from home and keep their income steady, while others don’t have the same luxury. Read on for a thorough breakdown of how COVID 19 affects people with disabilities.

1. Not All Disabled People Are Affected the Same Way

We shouldn’t bundle all people within a group together, because being disabled can be a lot of different things. What we’re getting at, is that some disabled persons live alone, and cope with it just fine, while others depend on help from others.

A lot of disabled people live in groups, such as nursing homes. People who live in such facilities are impossible to isolate. As everyone already knows, isolation is the best prevention against COVID 19. The people who can’t isolate themselves are at the highest risk of exposure to the virus.

Imagine living in close quarters with many other disabled people, with no chance of isolation. In those conditions, people with disabilities are at high risk of contracting COVID 19, because they aren’t just in contact with other invalids, they are also in contact with the helping staff. It’s not a single doctor or nurse who takes care of them, they’re a dozen.

The medical staff is very exposed to COVID 19, and they take the biggest risks. Furthermore, their patients are at risk too, meaning that medical facilities aren’t exactly the safest right now. Finally, we can conclude that people with disabilities aren’t affected equally, and their disability isn’t the biggest risk. On the contrary, the risk lies in their living arrangements and their possible exposure to COVID 19.

2. Economic Stability Is a Huge Factor Too

The harsh reality in any crisis is that well-situated people are generally safer than those with low or no income at all. The same goes for the disabled. Being rich or having some financial backing goes a long way for treating any medical condition, and preventing exposure to a virus as widespread as COVID 19.

Money is not a bulletproof shield, but it is a shield of sorts. In a state of emergency, it can help immensely because it can provide the necessary protection and coping mechanisms. Generally speaking, people with disabilities usually aren’t as financially stable as those with no medical conditions. People who live in countries with proper social care systems don’t have to worry as much as those in low-income countries.

Money can get you medical, hygiene, and food supplies to last in this difficult situation. If you have money to spare, you can pay for various delivery services, which are extremely popular these days. Most people, not just those with disabilities, don’t have big savings for dark days.

You can say we’re all experiencing those dark times right now. Social service programs that help the disabled financially aren’t exactly giving out enough money to provide savings. Those cheques are usually instantly spent on basic needs. If you’re disabled and manage to get a job, which is incredibly difficult right now, you can say goodbye to the social support cheques.

3. Is Working an Option?

People with disabilities have a much harder time finding a job at any time, let alone during a crisis. Some disabled people are lucky enough to have jobs that can be done from home. They are in the best position right now because they have a steady income and they can self-isolate.

On the other side are people with disabilities whose work involves human contact. They’re at risk, and there’s nothing to be done because they can’t just go and work from home. If they leave their job, they won’t have any income unless they manage to get some social security fast. What’s better, to be poor and “safe”, or to keep your job and stay exposed to COVID 19? There’s no right answer to that question since both options are far from perfect.

If you’d like to help people with disabilities in this time of crisis, it’s best to apply for the NDIS registration process at Provider Plus. It’s a very difficult process, so you shouldn’t do it without professional help. Provider Plus is an all-in-one service, which can help your business become an NDIS registered provider in no time. They have a 100% approval rate for all their clients, which speaks volumes about their success.

Conclusion

Even though maintaining physical health is important, we shouldn’t disregard mental health either. This global state of alert is not beneficial to the mental state of anyone. Isolation is more difficult for those with mental issues. They must be given some leeway, and the right to occasionally go outside and take a breather.

People with disabilities are usually bundled together, under the same banner, but they are not the same. Their disabilities differ, some have physical disabilities, while others have mental health conditions. Each of these conditions should be addressed specifically, and these people should be given appropriate help, especially in these dire circumstances.

Is Drug Testing at Workplace a Good Idea?

Here we have a slightly controversial topic on our hands. Objectively looking drug testing at the workplace has its benefits and of course, it has its drawbacks.

Many companies consider drug testing at the workplace a fair policy and safety precaution – they are not only protecting their business but their employees as well. There are even laws and regulations regarding workplace drug abuse.

Let’s start with all the types of drug testing methods available for workplace testing and work towards whether or not it’s a good idea.

Types of drug testing methods

A drug test determines whether or not an employee is using any illegal substances. Currently, many employers, as well as employees, are starting to realize the importance of this policy. This is also why both employees and employers should be aware of all the possible types of drug testing methods.

The most important thing to know is that you have options as there are at least five types of methods available for workplace drug testing.

The first option is the most common option used for drug testing and that’s a urine drug test. If someone has been using drugs recently, the traces of it will most definitely be detected in the urine.

While urine drug testing is the most common type of drug testing, a saliva drug test is the most popular one. This type of test is pretty self-explanatory and the reason for being so popular is due to its less invasive nature. Besides this method is not as expensive as all others.

The hair testing method is another good way of seeing whether a person has been using drugs. However, many people claim that this method is no good because it doesn’t measure current drug use but it can detect if someone used months before – which is not the point when it comes to workplace drug testing.

Another method includes blood testing. This method is the most invasive one and at the same time the most expensive out of all. And even if this method is often avoided because of its cost and invasiveness, it’s the best way to detect the presence of substances as well as the exact amount of substances used.

The fifth method includes perspiration testing. This method is fairly new and it requires wearing a sweat path on the skin for a couple of days. This patch will detect the presence of drugs through perspiration.

Benefits of drug testing at the workplace

Safety of the employees

The number one reason why drug testing at the workplace is a good idea is safety. Every employer should provide a healthy and safe work environment. One of the ways to do this is to implement the drug testing policy.

Workplace injuries and hazardous situations are often related to substance use. People who use drugs are less aware and they also tend to be less concerned about their own safety and the safety of others. Additionally, drugs tend to slow reaction time which means that those who use drugs are at risk and pose a risk to their coworkers as well.

Drug testing at the workplace will ensure that all employees are safe and healthy and it will prevent a dangerous situation, especially in high-risk jobs.

Avoiding legal problems

The drug-testing program can save you a lot of troubles, especially those of a legal kind. Just imagine how many legal problems can an employee who uses drugs cause. They can endanger not only their own lives but the lives of their coworkers as well as your own company.

Workplace drug testing program ensures that all your employees are safe, that the environment that they work in is also safe and that no one poses any risk.

Avoiding problems and maintaining good company image

Employees who use drugs can’t perform their duties to the best of their abilities. Drug intoxication causes many problems, and one of those includes making mistakes and giving poor results at work. Consequently, this affects the image of your company.

The best way to ensure that your employees are giving the best possible results and thus maintaining a good public image of your company is to implement a drug testing policy into your company.

Drawbacks of drug testing at the workplace

Invasion of privacy

Drug testing at the workplace is often seen as an invasion of privacy. Many employees feel like drug testing is a violation of their privacy, their freedom and also a lack of trust from their employer.

This is especially true in cases of random drug testing when a random employee is chosen to do the test. That individual may feel resentful and insulted.

Expensive drug tests

As mentioned above, there are several different types of drug tests and some of them can be pretty costly. This is the main reason why so many employers tend to stay away from implementing drug testing programs.

Bottom line is that in many cases the benefits of workplace drug testing outweigh the drawbacks. Nothing beats the safety of your employees and the safety of the work environment.

There are different methods of drug testing that don’t have to be all that expensive and yet they do the work. Ultimately, the decision about whether drug testing at the workplace is a good idea or not is on the employer.

New Recruitment & Training Techniques for HR Management

Staffing is one of the biggest employer challenges, especially in the growing healthcare industry, for example. The unemployment rate in the field has dropped to a mere 2.0%, making employee recruitment and retention critical to your organization’s success. Technology can aid your HR department in the process.

Recruitment

It’s important to understand who best fits your company’s culture (and what they’re looking for in return) to recruit the top talent in a competitive market. Ensure your efforts to attract and hire new personnel is well focused and that your organization understands a prospect’s needs.

Consider streamlining the hiring process by requiring prospects to test for the position. Doing so will save you time on meetings and interviews with individuals who may look good on paper but may not be a match. Culture indexing uses technology to assess and qualify top talent for better hiring. These short online tests determine whether or not an organization is the right fit for you and the recruit.

It’s also important to collaborate with other HR staff to understand what ideal hires look for in a new employer. To know what your target talent wants, it’s sometimes best to know what they don’t want. A report by the Work Institute listed the top reasons employees quit their jobs. Retirement and the work environment were among the top 10. While the former is unpreventable, the latter can be altered; use the information provided to find solutions to the main employee complaints and position your organization as one of the top companies in the field.

Career Development

The report found that the No. 1 reason workers leave is to further advance their careers (22%). Does your company offer benefits that allow for staff to train and move up in the organization? If not, start developing a system now. Otherwise, when recruiting, emphasize your company’s commitment to employee advancement and training programs.

Consider including the discussion of career goals as part of the regularly-scheduled employee performance review. Find ways to implement an online training program or on-the-job learning where staff can expand their current skills. The medical field is a busy and fast-paced industry. Asynchronous learning may be the best solution for employees interested in ongoing education because they can study around their busy schedules.

Help employees meet their career goals by assigning a manager or lead who can guide them and document the staff member’s career goals. Your organization may already have a system for HR files. Include a career goal profile in the employee’s personnel file so that HR and other support personnel can stay updated and track their progress. 

Work-Life Balance

Even the best personnel can experience burnout. The Work Institute’s report found that 12 out of 100 people left their job to attain a better work-life balance. Offering staff more flexible work hours using flextime, job sharing, or telecommuting where staff work from home (when possible) are some solutions to address the work-life balance challenge.

Telecommuting or remote work may be the best solution for personnel who may be in danger of burnout. Can your company implement processes and technology so that employees may work remotely from home? Airtasker.com surveyed 1,000 full-time employees and found that remote work made employees more productive and allowed them to have more time for their personal lives. 

Working from home saved employees an average of 8.5 hours per week previously wasted on commuting. And most importantly, remote workers were more focused and productive, with an average non-productive time of 37 minutes while at the office and 27 minutes while at home.

Work Environment

Several of the reasons employees quit their job have to do with the work environment itself. The reasons employees left included:

  • Manager behavior: 11 out of 100
  • Well-being: 8 out of 100
  • Job characteristics: 8 out of 100
  • Literal work environment: 5 out of 100

Reducing conflict and high-pressure in the work environment may be difficult in certain healthcare facilities like an urgent care facility or an ambulatory surgical center. Still, it’s worth the effort if your organization wants to attract and retain employees. The benefits go well beyond team morale — improving the work environment can enhance the quality of care and reduce costly errors. Consider how the following improvements can benefit your company:

Redesign the Office Layout

Improve flow by separating patient traffic from areas where medical staff frequently access. Separate entrances make it easier for staff to enter and exit patient rooms and work with less interruption. Besides separating patients from staff, give management their own area away from staff, so that team members can work freely without feeling overly observed.

Create an Environment With Well-Being in Mind

A calm and inviting environment is ideal for patients, but consider your staff’s needs as well. Repaint walls in a soothing neutral color; there are many options, from soft whites to bolder grays. Simple improvements like natural or improved lighting, live plants, and ergonomic office furniture add comfort and function in the workspace.

Improvements Start at the HR Level

Attracting new hires and retaining existing personnel is essential to your company’s growth. It’s one of the most important tasks of the HR department. Implementing new ideas and technology to create an ideal work environment can better position your company as one of the most sought-after in the job market. 

Ways You Can Develop a Healthy Work Environment for Your Employees

Almost all business leaders realize that the happier and healthier your team is, the better they will perform. And of course, great performance by employees means that your company grows and succeeds more easily.

However, too many leaders don’t put a lot of thought or planning into their work environment. They let it be whatever it is – which is often something not conducive to high productivity and engaged work. 

The good news is that you can create a work environment where your employees are healthy and happy. Here’s what you need to know. 

Provide a Sense of Mission For Everyone

Too many company mission statements are a mish-mash of corporate-speak that doesn’t really mean anything to anyone. It goes on the wall, but it isn’t lived out day-to-day. But your business can be different.

People’s lives at work are greatly enriched if they feel that they are doing something meaningful. It gives them a sense of ownership and encourages them to do their best work. Pay alone doesn’t encourage creativity and engagement. Mission-driven workers are 54% more likely to stay for five years at a company and 30% more likely to become high performers. 

Making your mission the front and center of every day isn’t just good for employees, either – it’s essential to a successful organization. The mission makes your team cohesive.

Patagonia is a great example of this. They have an explicit mission to be a steward of the planet and among other initiatives, don’t make metal pitons that are hammered into rock. Their clothing is made from organic cotton. And it doesn’t stop there. Their headquarters welcomes employees’ children and the company allows surfing breaks, flexible schedules, and volunteering sabbaticals. 

The result? A successful company, 4% turnover, and 9,000 applicants for new openings. 

Pretty impressive!

Offer Health and Wellness Resources

A company that wants a truly healthy and happy environment will offer the resources to make it happen. 

A big part of this is allowing workers time off when they’re ill, and encouraging them to treat their illness rather than being a “hero” and coming to work sick. Using a natural treatment method such as CBD can help employees battle a number of cold and flu symptoms at once, such as aches and pains, fatigue, and even nausea.

You can also offer workplace wellness programs. Wellness programs encourage healthy behaviors, give options for treating problems, and encourage employees to be consistent in their health efforts. 

As a result, your company will save a significant amount of money. The average financial return on these programs is $3.27 in health savings for every dollar spent, along with $5.82 for every dollar spent in lower absenteeism. 

Employees appreciate these programs, both for the impact on health and on the overall culture of the company. In fact, 87% consider these options when choosing an employer.

If you want a happier, healthier workforce, consider offering a variety of health-related programs employees can take advantage of. This may include health educators, counselors, and even massage therapists. Health educators and counselors can provide in-depth education on preventive care employees can engage in to keep themselves in tip-top shape. These educational programs often teach lifestyle changes and choices such as diet or exercise programs or meditation techniques.

Don’t Overlook Mental Health

Americans are among the most stressed populations in the world, and nearly half feel worried on a regular basis. Helping your employees handle these pressures is important. Some of the cause is work stress, but many Americans also feel stressed about finances, their health, and their families. 

Offering access to confidential mental health programs like an Employee Assistance Program can also make a big difference. You can also encourage the use of technology, like mobile apps, to monitor and improve mental health.

Be sure you don’t stigmatize or punish employees — officially or unofficially — who take advantage of these programs. Otherwise, you’re working against the health and happiness you’re spending money to provide.

When you prioritize physical and mental health in the workplace, you’re sending a message that your employees matter and aren’t just a worker to you. You see them as people, and that’s important for a healthy work environment.

Give Consistent Praise and Recognition

Not receiving praise and recognition for good work is a consistent complaint among employees. Too many workplaces focus on correcting mistakes and overlook when people do a good job. It’s simply expected.

Unfortunately, not giving praise and recognition puts your employees on the fast track to leaving the company. Being unappreciated is the number one reason employees look for other jobs. 

Make a plan and include recognition as a regular part of the workday. Whether it’s encouraging employees to brag on each other or getting a thank you from a manager, your staff needs to feel appreciated. Be sure to solicit feedback from your employees on a variety of things — did your team deploy a new product?  How did it go? Have you implemented that new recognition program? What’s working and what isn’t? Great bosses ask for feedback and put it into practice. It’s yet another way to recognize your employees’ contributions.

Healthy and Happy Workers Matter

Why should you bother with employee health and happiness? Because it matters to your business and your bottom line. Companies with happy employees outperform competitors by 20%. Plus, when your employees are happier it impacts how they do their job.

Unhappy employees telegraph their attitude to customers. So do happy ones. So if you want excellent customer service, you want to have a happy, healthy staff.

You’ll also save significant money on health costs, turnover, and absenteeism when your team is healthier and happier. 

Most of all, you’ll be treating employees as what they are – real people who really matter. That, alone, is plenty of reason to invest in a healthy work environment.

Best Free Conference Call Services for Businesses

Having the right conference call service on your side can help improve your business in so many different ways. First of all, it provides you with a chance to contact members of your team who are far away on a moment’s notice. It also allows you to skip the necessity to go across the globe in order to attend a meeting in person. Sure, a lot of people prefer a face-to-face meeting, however, organizing one in order to resolve an issue in several minutes is a waste of everyone’s time and resources. Fortunately, a conference call service can help you avoid this but which platforms are the best for your business? Here are several worth considering.

  1. Skype

It would be simply unfair not to mention skype at the very top of this list. Why? Well, the first reason is the fact that even today, skype boasts with as many as 1 billion downloads and about 300 million monthly active users. One more thing that sets skype apart is the fact that it’s at the very top of the industry for years now. Keep in mind that this tool is completely free and that it provides you with a simple and efficient conference call service that you can use for both international and local meetings alike.

  1. Google Hangouts

If there’s one thing that we can notice about Google nowadays it’s the fact that it tries to be competitive in virtually every field out there. This ranges from becoming competitive with MS Office, with tools like Google Docs and Google Sheets. One incredible Google tool that you can use for conference call services is the so-called Google Hangouts. The best thing about this tool is that it’s completely browser-based and that, all you need to access it is a Google Account. In other words, it’s a tool that you can always default to.

  1. Zoom

Another amazing tool for conference calls, especially if you have a particularly large team, is Zoom. The only downside of this tool lies in the fact that your calls are limited to 40 minutes, however, seeing as how the majority of meetings don’t actually exceed 20 minutes, this is more than enough. Other than this, by having a limited time for the meeting, you’ll have extra motivation to keep it short and to the point. It is estimated that we spend about 31 hours in unnecessary meetings each month, either way, so avoiding this might be especially important. Needless to say, you have both free and premium accounts.

  1. Redback Connect

When it comes to hosting a conference with a particularly large audience, what you might need is a tool that’s closer to a life event streaming service than an IM software. Redback Connect is a perfect example. As is expected, this is something that can completely erase all geographical boundaries, which makes it ideal even for major industry-relevant conventions. The fact that you can also provide your audience with an on-demand content makes for another major selling point of this tool.

  1. Viber

Another tool that you need to take into consideration is the use of Viber for the purpose of conference-calling. The problem with this idea lies in the fact that Viber’s biggest advantage also tends to be its major downside. Namely, a Viber is a tool that virtually everyone nowadays has installed on their phone. On top of this, it also has a desktop version. The fact that it has a wide personal use makes people available 24/7, however, this also means that they might get distracted by other (personal) messages that they receive while working.

  1. FreeConferenceCall.com

The next tool that’s worth your consideration is the FreeConferenceCall.com. This is a reliable and simple tool with a more than self-explanatory name. The tool itself can be registered for free in a matter of minutes but you also have an option to continue with your Facebook account, thus facilitating this already short process even further. The use of this tool is also quite simple, seeing as how you can set up an online conference in a simple three-steps-long move. You get a free account, you invite participants and you start an audio conference. It really is that simple.

  1. WebEx

One more amazing tool that you should consider using is WebEx. The benefits of using this tool are numerous, the biggest one being the fact that you get to the conference call, screen share and file share within the same platform. Due to the fact that the tool also has a simple and effective whiteboard for quick and efficient messaging, it is more than clear that this is an end-to-end conference tool like no other. This is particularly effective when you’re sharing visual ideas. For instance, in a scenario where you’re trying to design a custom sign for your business. A brainstorming session in WebEx can be quite a sight. Now, the tool itself is not free, however, you do get a trial period. This means that you can always use it as a one-time solution.

  1. UberConference

One of the tools that a lot of people probably expected to see earlier on this list is the popular UberConference tool. What you get is a free conference call tool that specializes in voice calls. Sure, conference call services in 2020 usually imply video support, however, the truth is that audio always comes first. This is especially important to allow various parties to participate in conference calls while driving.

  1. FreeConference.com

Finally, we have one more tool with a self-explanatory name that can provide you with a highly-efficient online meeting room for your staff. The platform has support for any device, which gives you an additional layer of versatility that you need. Add to this the fact that you get support for international dial-in numbers and what you’ve got yourself is an ultimate tool for going global with your business. 

In conclusion

At the end of the day, there are several factors that all of these tools share. First, the registering process is always free and simple and the tool itself has a simple and intuitive interface. In fact, one could even get out of the way to claim that it makes little to no difference when it comes to which of the tools you decide to use. Now, while differences may not be exactly astronomical, they’re definitely present. Also, seeing as how no tool is so clearly superior or inferior to others, you can just pick the one that fits your own personal preference without the fear of making the wrong choice.

The Relevance of Talent Management and How to Develop Your TM System

Most businesses treat their hiring efforts separately from their accounting, not to mention their overall organization and goal-setting. Strategizing your entire business should include this one element that can boost your employee retention rates and help you build a more stable reputation in the role of an employer. Talent management is a strategy that encompasses everything from taking care of your employees’ perks and benefits, their compensation, workload, hierarchy, all the way to training, collaboration, and feedback. It aims to help your business find, hire, and retain talented individuals in line with your culture and values, people who will be your brand ambassadors. 

To develop such a system, you need to apply your strategic mindset and reform your HR practices from the ground up. The importance of this single system within your business cannot be underestimated, since you cannot afford losing valuable human assets over missed opportunities or misunderstandings in the workplace. Here are a few solutions to keep in mind for your talent management system, and how you can develop it more effectively for your brand to grow.

Form a feedback cycle 

Hiring and retaining employees is certainly not all about money. More than ever, employees cherish their freedom to express their opinions, to work with leaders that have a cause at heart, and to grow under your roof, not just continue earning their salary one month at a time. To truly empower business-wide transparency, you should build a feedback cycle that enables and encourages all of your staff to share their thoughts, criticism, suggestions, and ideas. 

Add to that, you should feel free to provide guidance, praise, and constructive criticism within that very same loop, and ensure equality in this exchange, so that all of your talented employees can get the chance to improve – yourself included. 

Start building your employer presence

Talent management starts with allowing your business to behave like a multifaceted creature that it is – not just aimed at customers, but at your employees, too. Your capacity as an employer greatly impacts the brand development process. To truly allow your business to attract the right talent and keep them happy, you should focus on employer branding as one key aspect of your talent management strategy and overarching brand development, too. 

Create the image you want to portray among your employees, and make sure that your employer brand genuinely embodies all those key values you want to see in the people that work within your business. To properly manage your talent, you should be prepared to position yourself not just as a customer-centric entity, but one strongly devoted to its employees. Send a consistent message over all social platforms, your website, and all other job platforms where you go talent-hunting. Your employer brand will do the rest.

Define your goals clearly

Unlike managing financial assets, tools, or anything abstract, you need to treat talent management as a process that is firmly focused on people in your business. That is why you need to rethink how you define goals that drive your talent management strategy. For starters, instead of sticking to numbers and statistics only, you should also think in people: who of your employees is best for which business task? How many people would you need to handle a new client? Do you have a risk mitigation strategy based on your employees’ skills and strengths?

Above all, this is not something you decide behind closed doors, or with a handful of managers who barely ever see your employees in action. The TM strategy only works if you create it with your employees present and suggesting ideas that make sense to them. While you’re defining your TM strategy goals, make sure to think about preventing issues among your teams, too. That’s yet another part of your strategy that matters to your employees and your management team, too.

Make smart investments in employees

One segment of every strategy that most business leaders fear the most is the budget. Alas, too many neglect to address that particular segment of their talent management strategy, which is a mistake you shouldn’t make. Why? Because selecting optimal funds for your TM strategy will help you allocate your budget towards employee training, advertising available job posts, employee bonuses, and setting up team-building workshops. 

Your employees should mean more than their salaries. That means that even if they’re happy with the number of zeros on the check, you should always focus on what else you can provide that will ultimately inspire them to stay loyal to your business and bring more clients your way. Plus, when you educate and train your staff, you’ll be able to help them climb the ladder and assume positions that will give them more challenges and help them grow. Today, every single employee craves such an approach over that old-fashioned stagnant career path with no room for improvement. 

 

Nurturing your employees and your candidates, and allowing them to be your brand advocates is one of the best strategies that can transform your business. It’s up to you to define your TM strategy from the beginning and implement it mindfully so that each hire you make and each time you let someone go, you do so in the service of your business and your culture. Keep these handy tips in mind to refine your TM strategy for upcoming years of success. 

How Company Safety Responsibilities Are Evolving

Is your company keeping pace with the evolving dangers in the workplace? If you answered no, and you’re doing the minimum, then you may be putting your employees and customers at risk.

While companies have evolved exponentially in recent decades, so has humankind, technology, and the risks that both can place on a productive workforce. Changes must be made to ensure that your employees and the people who use your products and services have total confidence in your organization. Below are some ways the world is evolving and how your company should respond.

Start with the Basics

While the world is constantly changing, it is essential to remember the basics of safety in the workplace and build up from there. According to statistics from the National Safety Council, a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds. These injuries include everything from being struck by equipment and back injuries due to repetitive lifting. In the wider world, workplace incidents involve children working in dangerous factories.

The first step to mitigate these incidents is to create and promote a culture of safety around the office where everyone is equal and every worker feels comfortable when they walk into work. Add signage about common threats, have an open-door policy for employees with concerns, and hold safety meetings where you encourage everyone to keep an eye out for each other. If someone is injured on the job, make sure to follow proper workers’ compensation procedures so workers can get the care they need and know that the company has their back.

Then there are the standard safety precautions that every business should have in effect, such as testing equipment to ensure it works properly and completing regular safety inspections. Trips, slips, and falls are a common occurrence, so clean spills immediately, close drawers and remove cords from walking paths, and keep hallways free of debris. You can even implement programs that encourage health and wellness with gym memberships and required breaks during all shifts.

Preventing Workplace Violence

Unfortunately, there is a growing trend these days of violence in the workplace. Every year, 2 million assaults and threats of violence occur in our nation’s workplaces, including those sad stories we see on the news that involve gun violence. Employers must take this evolving threat seriously and be proactive so employees can feel secure when they wake up to go to work each day.

The first step should be added security, whether that is with guards or metal detectors that not only alert staff if someone brings a weapon into the office, but are helpful in preventing theft. Still, while a company can spend thousands of dollars on equipment, reducing the threat comes down to creating that positive company culture. Establish a zero-tolerance policy that is communicated directly to all employees verbally and with signage. Such a policy should enforce the fact that anyone who makes a threat of violence will be relieved of their duties.

Security cameras also create a way of catching incidents and holding the guilty parties accountable. It is also recommended that you have a response plan in writing if an incident were to occur that includes how to properly document the events and what victims need to do for medical attention. If an incident does occur, management should have a meeting with all staff members so that everyone can understand what occurred and how it can be avoided in the future.

Effective Cybersecurity

As our workplaces evolve, so does our technology. With advancing computer systems, hackers are finding new ways to steal consumer information. Yes, protecting your employees is paramount, but protecting the confidential information of your customers should have equal importance. Even a stolen email address can provide a hacker with access to a customer’s account and the private contact information and pictures that could be used for blackmail or fraud. You simply do not want your company to be held responsible for a damaging data breach.

Your staff is the front line of security when it comes to protecting customer data, so it is necessary to educate employees on common threats and how to avoid them. For instance, a commonly used tactic includes sending phishing emails that look like authentic correspondence but instead include a link or attachment that, when opened, creates a doorway for hackers to access your systems. Employees should be made aware of the signs of such scams, which include but are not limited to:

  • Email addresses that look real but are off by a letter or two.
  • Emails with many spelling errors.
  • Any attachment or link that they were not expecting.
  • Emails with a sense of urgency.

All employees, from the CEO to the floor workers, should know how to keep their computers secure. Computers need to be locked whenever employees leave the area, and systems should have complex passwords that include letters, numbers, and special characters. Company websites should also be protected with antivirus software and updated firewalls to prevent intrusions.

It is the companies responsibility to help their employees and customers feel safe and secure when they do business. A company that evolves with changing trends will always be highly-regarded and stand the test of time.

Image Source: Pexels