Benefits of Using Humor in the Workplace

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

adult-chill-connection-450271.jpg

Why should you use humor at the workplace?

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

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

The benefits of using humor in the workplace

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

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

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

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

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

Rules for using humor at the workplace

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

How to introduce humor at your workplace?

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

  1. Funny employee awards

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

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

Advertisements
Employee Data and GDPR. What You Need to Know | Featured Image

Employee Data and GDPR. What You Need to Know

Employee Data and GDPR. What You Need to Know | Main Image

Every organisation that processes personal data must comply with the new GDPR rules that take effect in May 2018. There are no exemptions based on a size or sector, no staggered dates for compliance and, based on the current performance of the body responsible for policing data protection legislation, a rock-solid guarantee that the new regulations will be enforced and, where companies fall short, fines imposed.

Those with HR and people responsibilities are, without a doubt, at the front line of GDPR compliance. They work with personal data all the time: in fact, their jobs could be said to rely on it.

As custodians of employee information, they’ll be the ones who will need to audit existing processes; validate their own security and that of third parties that they share HR information with such as HR software and payroll providers; take on at least some of the responsibility for compliance training and monitoring and equip themselves to report any data breaches involving employee data, as well as respond to ‘subject access requests’ from employees.

Where should you start?

For many HR teams getting to grips with GDPR is understandably daunting. Not least, because so much has been written about the higher standard of consent for processing personal data that the legislation requires – and the cost of getting it wrong.

At first glance, asking employees for consent seems reasonable. You may already let employees know why you ask them for personal information and what you use it for.

However, when it comes to collecting and processing employee data in the context of GDPR, a reading of the regulations indicates that the focus on consent is misleading and could, in fact, be damaging.

[Box out]

Under GDPR, consent is defining as meaning “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her.”

In an employment context, relying on consent is problematic for three main reasons:

  1. It’s administratively complex. Since consent needs to be ‘specific’ and shown by a ‘clear affirmative action’. A catch all clause in an employment contract, or on the login screen to your HR software won’t cover it.
  2. It’s unlikely to be un-enforceable in law. In an employment relationship, demonstrating free consent is almost impossible since the relationship is not one between equals. By refusing consent, an employee may feel that they put their relationship with their employer in jeopardy.
  3. By asking an employee to give their consent to processing information, you may inadvertently give them stronger rights to have their details deleted. What would be the business implications if, for example, an employee demanded that you delete data about their absences (sickness or otherwise), performance, skills, perhaps even their address. It may seem unlikely, but it’s possible.

Legitimate business interest

Instead, HR should rely as far as possible on legitimate business interest. This should cover the data that is required to ensure the employer fulfil their contractual obligations to their employees. For example, to pay them, award paid time off, manage grievance or health and safety issues etc. It will also extend to issues relating to the effective running of the business, such as monitoring absences, performance reviews or skills audits (with a caveat in relation to automated decision making – which is also covered by GDPR).

Legitimate interest cannot be applied in all cases. For example, processing employee information related to wellness initiatives, while laudable, is likely to require consent, as is sharing personal data with third parties so they can market their services to your employees – however attractive the offer.

An essential first step for HR, therefore, is to audit and document employee information: what you gather and why, where you store it, how you ensure it is accurate and up to date and who you share it with. This forms the foundation for the other activities that HR – or someone else in the organisation – will need to address for GDPR compliance.

The ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) has put together a handy 12-point plan for anyone with day to day responsibility for data protection, much of which is relevant to HR.

Beyond the data audit, top priorities for HR are likely to include: updates to privacy notices, review of current consent approaches, awareness and training activities, internal and partner data security reviews, processes for reporting data breaches and a cost-effective response to subject requests for information.

For HR teams making do with spreadsheets and paper-based files, GDPR may also provide the impetus to modernise personnel record keeping. In a side note to the legislation, the regulator recommends making use of employee self- service HR software, so that employees can both see, and where appropriate correct, the data their employer holds on them.

Consolidating HR information in a single, secure HR software system has other benefits for GDPR compliance. It’s generally easier to demonstrate that you have appropriate security in place if personnel records are held behind a secure login than in spreadsheets or office filing cabinets and approval workflows and audit capabilities make tracing and tracking infinitely easier than trawling through historic emails.

Although GDPR will not be in force until May 2018, the new regulations will have significant implications for the way that companies manage their HR data. HR need to start to prepare now.

Please note: this article is based on our understanding of the requirements of GDPR and should not be relied upon as legal advice or to determine how GDPR might apply to you and your organisation.  You should refer to the legislation and, if in doubt, work with a legally qualified professional to discuss GDPR, how it applies specifically to your organisation, and how best to ensure compliance.


If you want to share this article the reference to Sue Lingard at Cezanne HR Software, and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

Employee Relations: The Last Bastion of Manual HR Processes?

Employee Relations: The Last Bastion of Manual HR Processes?

Today our guest is Deborah J. Muller, CEO and Founder at HR Acuity®: a leading provider of employee relations and workplace investigation solutions.

Deborah founded HR Acuity, LLC in March 2006, after she spent more than 20 years in key HR leadership positions at numerous Fortune 500 companies, including Citicorp, Honeywell, Marsh & McLennan and Dun & Bradstreet.

HR Acuity designed and developed HR Acuity On-Demand, an essential web-based application that minimizes an organization’s legal and financial risks.

HR Acuity On-Demand, winner of the 2009 Top Product of the Year award from Human Resource Executive® Magazine, enables consistent documentation of employee issues, a structured process for workplace investigation, and immediate search and reporting.

The recently released 2016 HR Acuity Employee Relations Benchmark Study analyzed employee relations practices related to organizational models, case management processes, metrics and issue types, volumes and trends. The entire study had 74 organizations participate representing over 870,000 employees with the goal to establish a foundation for the development of a unique set of best practice employee relations benchmarks.

The interview is hosted by Alexey Mitkin, Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, The HR Tech Weekly® Online Media Co.

  1. Hi Deborah, and first of all thank you very much for this interview with The HR Tech Weekly®. You started HR Acuity® operations ten year ago. What has changed during this time in the employee relations management landscape?

Over the last ten years we have seen a real shift in the intersection of HR and technology. Organizations are looking beyond the traditional HRIS data to get insights that can be used to understand, diagnose and even predict how employees – their human resources – will behave and perform. And the relationships between employees, employer, co-workers, and customers – must be part of that story. What can we learn from those interactions (the good, the bad and the ugly) to become smarter in hiring, developing, managing and motivating our employees to drive business success? As a result, we have seen our conversations with clients make a real shift from educating about the power of employee relations to strategic dialogues about capturing and deliberately using this information.

  1. Why did you decide to perform the Employee Relations Benchmark Study, and how long did it take to get the results?  

For the past eight years we have been conducting an annual survey take get a pulse on employee relations issues and practices. But over the last few years, our network has been asking for more. When it comes to employee relations issues, organizations want to know what is “normal?” How many harassment issues should we expect? What should we expect our caseloads to be like given our size or industry? How do similarly situated organizations model their employee relations resources? The data had not previously been available and we were in a position to capture it. That being said, we were very fortunate to form an incredible advisory board from organization such as ADP, TIAA, MetLife, LinkedIn to help develop our Study questions.

The result was an in-depth questionnaire that required participants to take the time to gather the data requested sometimes from multiple constituents within their organization. In the end, their willingness to do so with such granularity speaks volumes about their desire to get their hands on this valuable information.

  1. Did you have any assumptions before performing the Study, and how different were they from the outputs?

Since I live employee relations day in and day out, I had some hypothesis going in but clarity of what we heard was most surprising. First of all, we knew from our clients that organizations were making a switch to centralized employee relations teams – this is something the Study confirms. What surprised me was uniformity of rationale for this change. Organizations are looking to drive consistency of process, ensure neutrality how issues are handles and safeguard that those handling the situations have the right expertise.

Secondly we knew there was steady increase in the reliance of organization to track employee relations metrics. When we started surveying organizations in 2009, less than 15% used an employee relations management system and over 50% didn’t track at all. What was surprising to us with the Study was how far this has shifted in the last seven years — basically flipping around. Now over 45% of organizations use some form of an employee relations management solution or case management system while only 12% reported not tracking at all.

And finally, in one of our open ended questions we asked about how caseloads have changed recently. Almost everyone who commented used the exact same word to describe what they were seeing…”complexity.” Cases are just more complex than they were a few years ago. Not a big surprise given the growing number of regulations that need to be considered but very powerful reading through comments from strangers who all use the same terminology.

  1. What are the core statistics and findings of the Study? Could you just lift the veil for our readership please?

So to give you a peek at some of the results I’ll share three areas of information the Study explored:

Organizational change. Not only are organizations moving to centralized models but our data shows that that type of organizational model uses 25% fewer HR resources than those with Mixed and Decentralized Models.

Analytics. Most respondents described employee relations analytics as “early stage.” However those that are ahead of the curve are actively monitoring key metrics and provided insightful examples of how the information measured has been used to impact key business drivers – all which we included in in the Study results.

And finally case and staffing benchmarks. The Study provides some “normal” on numbers and types of cases that employers are dealing with. In most instances we were able to break those numbers down by size of organization and organization model so that as a reader you can consume what is most similar to your needs. For example, for every 1,000 employees, our Study found that organizations will receive approximately 4.44 allegations of discrimination or harassment.

  1. On one hand, there are plenty of HR Tech solutions for recruitment, employee engagement and other things often called disruptive. On the other hand, some employee relations statistics may surprise you. What about solutions for managing risks, preventing and resolving conflicts at workplace?

I love that you bring up this point. Employee relations seems to be the last bastion of manual HR processes. And when you speak to HR practitioners they totally get it. The reality is that most HR professionals already capture employee relations information on a daily basis but in spiral notebooks or at best on excel sheets. By “digitizing” this last piece of the puzzle organizations can create tremendous impact and ROI without disruption. Instead of spending millions of dollars to figure out something intangible like employee engagement, having an employee relations management solution can uncover why employees are disengaged, what are the trends that drive inappropriate behaviors or subpar performance, what can you do to reduce incidents and drive growth: very tangible and very straightforward.

  1. Your Benchmark Study covered the corporate world. Do you have any observations regarding SMB companies and recommendations for them to mitigate risks of employee relations?

At HR Acuity we always say that employee bad behavior doesn’t discriminate…whatever size or industry, you need to be ready to face issues or allegations that will pose risk for your organization. Process missteps can be costly and particularly detrimental to the health of a smaller organization. So our recommendation is to be prepared. Have a process. Know who will be involved and ensure they have the proper training to handle the incident in a compliant manner. HR Acuity has some great free resources and tools on our website that we encourage folks to download.

  1. The last but not least question I love to ask my guests is what are upcoming challenges for you?

For us it is about Managers… How can we leverage technology to provide managers the tools to do their jobs more effectively? Those tools will not only help drive consistency but can be used to validate that good management and leadership practices drive business results. Once that happens, the relationship between managers and HR will change to become less traditional and more strategic.


If you want to share this interview the reference to Deborah J. Muller and  The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.