Building A Diverse Workforce In A Small Business

As we grow as a nation, it's important that our workforce grows as well, especially as a small business. Here is a helpful article for employers looking to diversify their workforce and make it more inclusive for everyone.

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There can be little argument against the value a diverse workplace. It’s a critical element of driving innovation, increasing creativity and securing market share, but diversity also makes growth and recruitment more manageable and helps to limit the word all employers want to avoid -- turnover. Diversity is significant enough that two-thirds of people polled in a Glassdoor survey said the level of diversity was important when evaluating job offers. This can prove to be a difficult task for a small business in the tech industry.

So what is workforce diversity? It’s more than simply not discriminating based on race, gender, national origin or disability. Diversity offers an alternative view or difference in opinions. Hiring employees with differing backgrounds in religion, from varying age ranges, sexual orientation, political affiliation, personality and education can become invaluable to an organization.

That being said, it can be nearly impossible to implement or force onto a set of employees. According to Harvard Business Review, researchers examined the success of mandated diversity training programs. While it’s simple enough to teach employees the right answers to questionnaires on bias or and appropriate responses for a given situation, the actual training rarely ever sticks, not more than a few days anyway. There have even been findings that suggest these mandated diversity training courses actually have adverse effects.

In the same article from HBR, managers said that when diversity training was mandatory, it is often met with confrontation and even anger. Some, in fact, reported an increase in animosity toward a minority group. On the other hand, when workers see the training as voluntary, the result is improved attitudes and an increase of 9-13% in the hiring of minorities five years from the training.

So if diversity is crucial to the success of a company or organization, but it's also something that can tough to implement, how does an employer ensure that they are fostering a work environment that is diverse? There are a few things employers can consider when they want to step up their game in building a more well-rounded and diverse workforce.

Evaluate The Hiring Process

Assess the level of diversity in the company. Does it reflect the general workforce of the industry or of the community? Figure out which departments are behind or lacking and what the source might be. Is a team diverse in most areas but still behind in management positions? Are managers hiring based on personal biases?

Top leadership needs to be an advocate for diversity in all hiring decisions, from the entry level to leadership positions. If there is a hiring test, see that managers are adhering to it. The HBR articles noted that even when hiring tests were in place, they were used selectively and that the results were ignored.

Having a hiring panel, or a system of checks and balances, would ensure that no one person would abuse the hiring process to lean too much on their own biases. Employers should also seek out new methods or places to network.

Mentoring Programs

Implementing a mentorship or sponsorship program will create a casual relationship between employees that will help alleviate some biases a manager might have and vice versa. Providing an opportunity for stewardship and responsibility allows the mentor to bestow knowledge on their mentee as they watch them grow.

Mentees will see the value in this experience and come to respect their mentor, laying away any preconceived biases or prejudices. They will become more invested in their work and the organization. Much like training programs, mentoring programs should be optional, not mandatory.

Inclusion

Similar to soldiers who serve together on the frontlines, employees who are part of a self-managed team and working as equals who work to complete projects will learn to dismiss biases on their own. Fostering an environment where employees can connect and collaborate increases engagement and allows for more contact than they may make when left to themselves.

In order to succeed in a global market, a tech organization must move past using "diversity" as a meaningless buzzword and step into action by developing and implementing an equal opportunity employment policy, following the Federal EEOC guidelines. Building and maintaining a diverse workforce is essential to growth and innovation in any industry, especially tech. But when handled poorly, or forced upon employees, it will cause more than a few headaches or even lawsuits. It requires change, a new take on leadership and creating a company culture based the business or service rather than a culture based on individual preferences or ideas.

Read the original article.

Source:
Cruikshank G. (4 December 2017). "Building A Diverse Workforce In A Small Business" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2017/12/04/building-a-diverse-workforce-in-a-small-business/#2b42986a4250

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7 Ways Employers Can Support Older Workers And Job Seekers

With all the focus on helping the younger generation achieve success in their careers, let's not forget to support our older workers and job seekers. Read this post for 7 tips for employers to help support older workers.

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With the unemployment rate (4.1%) at its lowest since 2000, employers are struggling to retain their best workers and attract qualified new ones. Although their efforts are often directed at Millennials, in places where people in their 20s and 30s are increasingly hard to find, employers are equally focused on people in their 50s and 60s.

For example, in May, more than 170 New England employers, policymakers and business leaders came together for an event notably titled, Gray is the New Green: Unleashing the Power of Older Workers and Volunteers to Build a Stronger Northern New England. And at a recent Manchester, N.H., workforce strategies event, AARP-N.H. State Director Todd Fahey urged HR professionals to talk with older employees about the possibility of continuing to work on a flexible basis after they hit the traditional retirement age of 65.

As a boomer and a career coach, I’m heartened by this turn of the events. Of course, I’m not so naïve as to think age discrimination is over. I agree with what Chris Farrell just said in a Next Avenue post: “Older workers still face a serious uphill climb in the job market in many respects.”

So how can employers do a better job of finding, retaining and supporting older job applicants and employees?

To find out, I interviewed Greg Voorheis, the mature worker program coordinator and Governor’s Award coordinator for the state of Vermont. I also watched a video he conducted with executives from the 2017 Governor's Award winner, Chroma Technology Group, a manufacturing firm in the biotech space, based in Bellows Fall, Vt. Incidentally, workers 55 and over currently make up nearly 30% of Vermont's workforce.

7 Tips for Supporting Older Workers and Job Seekers

Here are seven tips from Voorheis and Chroma:

1. Advertise job openings in newspapers in addition to online outlets. “One of the things we’ve learned over the years is that the mature population still really likes written material, like newspapers,” says Voorheis.

The Chroma Technology Group advertises its openings in print and welcomes hard copy applications to accommodate people who might not be comfortable applying online.

2. Display photos and videos of older people in recruitment marketing materials. That helps make it very clear that all ages are welcome to apply.

3. Cut down on ageism by using a group-interview model. HR departments are often staffed by younger workers, and that can result in unnecessary age bias — conscious or otherwise. This is why Chroma uses teams of four to eight people to do its hiring. “That way, no one person’s perspective carries too much weight. And if there are biases, they are minimized,” says the company's HR director, Angela Earle Gray.

4. Encourage mentoring. When older workers mentor younger workers, that helps the employees and it’s good for the company, too.

“Experience is an important thing to pass on,” says Chroma President Paul Millman. “Work habits, ways of doing things, and attitudes towards work all mature over time.”

Chroma uses peer work trainers to both help onboard employees and to continue mentoring them until they’re able to demonstrate competency in their new roles.

5. Provide ample training for older workers. Experienced employees are usually eager to get training that will keep their skills sharp and make them more employable. Yet sometimes employers hesitate to provide it because they worry about the return on investment for workers who might retire soon. Chroma takes a different tack by encouraging all workers to seek training opportunities.

“If you can show us how that is going to benefit you, we’ll find a way to get you that training, or something similar,” says Gray.

6. Offer flexible work arrangements.Voorheis says seasonal work, such as the snowbird programs offered at IBM, can be especially attractive to older workers.

Even though Chroma prefers employees to work full-time, it offers telecommuting and flextime to accommodate workers’ needs. And when staffers have needed to go part-time for a stretch, the company has tried to make that work. “We’re not fond of ridding ourselves of employees,” says Millman.

Sabbaticals are another popular option at Chroma. Long-term employees have the option to take an extended leave, for up to 11 weeks. The leave is unpaid, but the company continues to pay for medical and dental coverage.

7. Provide a wide range of benefits. Chroma also offers generous retirement benefits, company stock and a variety of wellness programs, including reimbursement for gym memberships and fitness programs. It runs monthly employee education programs, too, on topics like retirement planning, wellness and advance-care planning.

“We take very good care of mature workers at Chroma,” says Gray. “But it was never a conscious choice to do that. The conscious choice was to take very good care of all our employees.”

Voorheis echoes that sentiment, saying: “Good behaviors and programs that benefit mature workers benefit workers of all ages

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Collamer N. (27 November 2017). "7 Ways Employers Can Support Older Workers And Job Seekers" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/11/27/7-ways-employers-can-support-older-workers-and-job-seekers/#443ed6745ff0

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T: How To Earn Respect At Work

It's important to feel respected in the workplace. Here are some helpful tips for keeping and earning respect at work.


Someone I was coaching recently wrote in their development plan that one of their goals was to “earn the respect of more people at work.” I thought that was an interesting goal and asked her to tell me more about her comment. She said, “I just don’t feel like people respect me so I want to earn more respect.” When I asked her specifically what behaviors she thought she needed to exhibit in order to earn respect, there was a long pause and she gave me a blank stare.

You’d be surprised how many times I go through this same “respect” discussion. So here’s the deal…respect is something you have to earn – it’s not something handed out free on a silver platter. If you want to earn respect then you need to ask yourself this question, “How can I change my behavior to earn more respect from others?”

Here are some of my personal suggestions for earning respect:

  • Use active listening skills – really listen and hear what people are saying.
  • Treat others with dignity and courtesy at all times.
  • Keep all your commitments – and never make a commitment you can’t keep.
  • Be patient with people; realize that most people want to do what’s right.
  • Treat others as they would like to be treated; in other words, learn to flex your social style so you can work better with others.
  • Don’t state your opinions unless you can back them up with data. And be sure you fully understand the situation before you comment on it.
  • Be sincere.
  • Be generous.
  • Be humble.
  • Be confident, but exhibit confidence without arrogance.

Sometimes I think we speed through life so quickly that we don’t take enough time to really hear other people. To do so takes the ability to be patient, generous with your time, and sincerely care about others. These are all behaviors that will lead to earning more respect from co-workers.

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Quast L. (27 February 2012). "R-E-S-P-E-C-T: How To Earn Respect At Work" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/02/27/r-e-s-p-e-c-t-how-to-earn-respect-at-work/#164b42015749


The 10 Smartest Things To Look For In Every New Hire

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If you’re hiring a new member of your team, congratulations. You have a business that is thriving enough to need more hands. But be prepared, as the shortage of highly skilled workers means finding and retaining quality, creative employees, which can be pretty tough.

According to a 2017 Creative Group study:

41% of surveyed advertising and marketing executives say it’s challenging to find creative talent today.

52% of advertising and marketing executives say they are concerned about retaining their current creative staff in the next 12 months.

For any company, especially companies that do creative work, the people you hire are your most important asset. So how do you hire the right ones (and avoid the wrong ones)?

It can be easy to become overly focused on things like previous employers, degrees and awards — the stuff that may pique a hiring manager’s interest during the applicant-screening process. But in my decade of experience hiring people for our creative agency, I’ve learned that the key to hiring the right people is starting with a clear understanding of the attributes you want in a new hire: the values, characteristics, personality traits and beliefs that will make them an active agent, not a passive employee.

When you hire someone, you aren’t just adding a body. You are introducing a new element to your culture, your work and your skillset. They will become a conduit for your company’s vision and values, and they will influence — and be influenced by — the people around them, for better or worse. That’s why finding people with the right foundation is everything.

After hiring many roles, both successfully and poorly, I’ve distilled the 10 traits that I think are most important for a new hire — beyond their resume.

1. Hunger: Experience is important and necessary for most roles you hire for. However, you don’t want people who have already accomplished everything and are just looking to coast. The best people want to grow, no matter where they are.

2. Humility: Accomplishments are impressive, but they become less so if someone constantly brags about them. You want to hire team players who want everyone to get the glory (and don’t leave passive-aggressive notes in the kitchen about how the dirty dishes in the sink inconvenienced them). Also, look for people who understand the difference between humility and false humility. To quote C.S. Lewis, real humility is someone who “will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all."

3. Intelligence (Intellectual And Emotional): Book smarts are good. Street smarts are better. Both are ideal. The best employees have not only the technical ability but also the intuition and common sense to get things done — without oversight — under what are sometimes very stressful circumstances.

4. Self-Awareness: Self-awareness is vital when interacting with other people, whether it’s clients, coworkers or colleagues. Understanding your actions and how they are interpreted and make others feel, is often the difference between being someone who is a pleasure or a pain to work with. The good news is this trait is pretty easy to assess in an interview.

5. Curiosity: An unknown source once said, “Knowledge is having the right answer. Intelligence is asking the right question.” To grow, improve and work more efficiently, you need people who are interested in challenging old paradigms, testing, experimenting and learning. That all comes down to interest and curiosity. Great hires will proactively ask questions and seek out information to make the right decisions or suggest new ideas.

6. Scrappiness: Our company was a bootstrapped startup founded by three broke 20-something guys, so scrappiness is built into our DNA. But it’s an employee trait that benefits any organization. You want people who can get stuff done when things aren’t easy, who can always find a way and who don’t need you to hold their hand.

7. Resilience: Failure and frustrations are inevitable in creative work — even on a daily or weekly basis. People who have defied odds, made interesting career switches or taught themselves new things already come equipped with demonstrated resilience. When you go through a rough patch, as every company does, you’ll be grateful that you have people who are willing and able to weather a storm or two instead of jumping ship at the first sign of difficulty.

8. Flexibility: People who are willing to embrace change, who can dig in and help others out — even when a task isn’t technically in their job description — are the secret to helping a company evolve. At our company, we have many people who’ve held several different positions, some of which span across multiple departments, in just a few years. Their flexibility and knowledge benefits each new team and makes us stronger as a whole.

9. Kindness: No one wants to work with an unpleasant person — even if that person is highly capable. Note, however, that being kind is different from being nice. According to Merriam-Webster, "nice" is defined as: "1. pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory. 2. fine or subtle. 3. fastidious; scrupulous." The same source defines "kind" as: "having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature. Affectionate; loving." Being nice is fine; being kind is absolutely necessary.

10. Passion For What We Do: A truly successful company, no matter the size, is full of people who are invested in the cause, vision and values. Even if you’re a small operation without the same financial resources as your competitors, the only way to build a healthy, happy organization is to hire passionate people who share your vision.

To quote Shafqat Islam, the CEO of NewsCred, in the company's public culture document, under the "People" section, he writes: “This is the only thing that matters — we can screw up in everything else, but if we hire the best people, things will work out. A great team with a bad idea can still execute and make it work. A bad team with a great idea will fail every time.”

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Ritchie J. (6 December 2017). "The 10 Smartest Things To Look For In Every New Hire" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/12/06/the-10-smartest-things-to-look-for-in-every-new-hire/#30d66c776704

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Health Resolutions You Can Stick To In 2018

 Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
It has once again reached that time of year when we start to think of New Year resolutions to make and break. But do we ever really keep them?

We ask the experts which resolutions we should be making this year, and how we can actually stick to them.

Whether it's giving up smoking, exercising more, or getting our 5-a-day, most of us have usually given up before January ends.

But with a little help from the pros, you can live a happier, healthier life in 2018...

1. Drink more water

Health and fitness mentor Sarah-Anne Lucas (birdonabike.co.uk) says starting a daily ritual is the answer to New Year resolutions. She suggests drinking more water: "Water intake is massive. Most people do not drink enough, but what we'd all like is more energy. That comes down to what you put in, so increase your water intake. It's the first thing you put in your body in the morning. Go and get yourself a minimum of 100ml water and get it into you. To progress that practice, add lemon, to make the body alkaline. Lemon water is amazing, it also adds a bit of flavour."

2. Learn to meditate

Life-coach and mindfulness practitioner Dr Caroline Hough (aspiring2wellness.com) says we can train our minds to reduce stress, making us more likely to achieve our goals: "It involves sitting and meditating for 20 minutes. Bring yourself into the moment and be aware. That's an awareness of your external environment, so just looking at the flowers and the trees and the sunshine and appreciating it instead of rushing through life. Be aware of your internal environment, by noticing if you're very stressed, for example if you're clenching your muscles. We tend to live our lives at a level of stress which is unhealthy."

3. Start self-watching

Professor Jim McKenna, head of the Active Lifestyles Research Centre at Leeds Beckett University, advises we record our successes to motivate ourselves: "Whatever you want to do, whenever you achieve, write it down. You're trying to achieve it every day, so it needs to be nice and small, and all your job is then is to keep the sequence running. It's really as simple as that. What you're capitalising on there is positive self-regard, but also the fundamental process of self-watching. There's a lot of success in seeing your own achievements. When you collect all that up, you can start saying, 'Actually I've got nearly 10 occasions there when I did well, I'm doing well, I'm someone who can change'."

4. Look after your skin

Louise Thomas-Minns (uandyourskin.co.uk), celebrity skin therapist, recommends we pay more attention to protecting and caring for our skin: "Wash your skin nightly. Not removing make-up, daily dirt, oil, grime and pollutants from the skin every night will result in infections and outbreaks. Your skin regenerates at night too, so give it a helping hand. And don't pick! Picking at your skin will result in scarring and create more spotty outbreaks. Wear SPF every day to slow ageing and protect from the harmful effects of UV rays. Find out your skin type from a skin health expert, so you stop wasting time and money on incorrect products."

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Go Active (6 December 2017). "Health Resolutions You Can Stick To In 2018" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.goactiveincumbria.com/get-started/other/article/Health-Resolutions-You-Can-Stick-To-In-2018-e9f9d40d-ca39-48ed-be2e-b2f88f4061eb-ds

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Benefits to plants at your desk

Leaves on trees have turned, and a walk to the office often feels like a walk through an icebox. Open windows are a thing of months past. Cooped up, breathing dry indoor air, no one could blame you for feeling down.

But you can brighten your mood and boost your health by adding a plant or two to your workspace. You don’t even need much natural light or a green thumb.

Plants bring a bit of nature inside, along with other good stuff.

They make people happy, and taking care of them can make people even happier. That’s especially true if you’re digging in a garden – horticultural therapy helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills – but desk-side pruning can do wonders for your mental state too.

Plants are also terrific air purifiers.

The air in your office (and home) might be more polluted than air outside – especially if you’re in a big city. Furniture, carpet, plastic items and other synthetic materials are to blame, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Plants help by wicking away airborne chemicals and the carbon dioxide we puff out, and then give us oxygen, research from NASA shows.

Four decades ago, NASA scientists found more than 100 volatile organic compounds floating through the air of the Skylab space station. The bad stuff came from synthetic materials off-gassing low levels of chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene – known irritants and potential carcinogens that are in earthly buildings too.

When the chemicals are trapped in an area, people breathing within that same area can get sick because the air isn’t getting “the natural scrubbing by Earth’s complex ecosystem,” as NASA puts it.

Hail plants.

Here are two that demand next to nothing and tolerate very low light (but are just as happy with lots of it). Expect them to live for years and years, without repotting. I speak from experience, but you’ll also find them on plenty of lists and in lots of books about easy-care plants that are good for your health.

Snake Plant or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)

A sturdy plant with upright and stiff leaves. Ideally, its soil should dry out between waterings. It will grow bigger and look better if you water it as soon as the soil dries (not wait forever) and if it’s in medium light. But it still will live for months if you ignore it, and spring back to robust happiness when you give it a little love.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
A flowing plant with vine-like stems that can easily take over your desk. Ideally, its soil should stay a little moist. But if you let the soil dry out completely, you can jolt the plant back to life with watering. It’s perfectly happy with all kinds of lighting, including florescent, but it will be fuller with better color when it gets decent natural light.

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Malek M. (4 December 2017). "Benefits to plants at your desk" [web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://workwell.unum.com/2017/12/3255/


How millennials are shaping employee benefits

By 2025, the millennial generation will make up more than 75% of the U.S. workforce. With this spike and the need for new ways of thinking, employers are updating their benefits packages to entice the future talent of their companies.

Traditionally, the two big-hitting variables for potential employees are, you guessed it, salary and benefits. But what are millennials looking for when it comes to the actual benefits package? They’re looking for good pay and insurance, to be sure, but Care@Work names eight of the most swoon-worthy benefits for the millennial generation including flexible employee benefit options, holistic approaches to wellness, and lifestyle solutions.

Flexible employee benefit options

As the spice girls sing, “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.” Excuse the pop culture reference, but millennials will get it – and they know what they want. They don’t fit into a cookie-cutter benefits package, and instead look for flexible plans to satisfy their needs. Flexible benefit plans allow employees to choose benefits they want from a package of programs offered by their employer. Flex plans may include health insurance, retirement benefits or reimbursement accounts.

Holistic approaches to wellness

Millennials are constantly bombarded with the notion of living a healthy lifestyle. They are looking for employers who don’t just hand them a health insurance packet but also serve as proactive partners for their health and well-being. They are looking for opportunities to join work-sponsored club sports, health screenings at the campus clinic and lunch-and-learns on low carb Crockpot diets. Can you hear those spice girls singing in the background again? An added bonus: Companies benefit from this approach as well!

Lifestyle solutions

Another hallmark of millennials is the “access over ownership” mentality. With the majority of employees’ everyday lives revolving around technology, companies are finding ways for them to access and elect their benefits online rather than the old pen and paper approach. Millennials want solutions to their everyday responsibilities while they are giving their all on the job. So, other lifestyle solutions they might look for are child care services, therapists and dog walkers. Instead of driving home during your lunch break to walk the dog or pick up the kids, why can’t dogs and kids come to work with you and have their needs met at daycare while you’re on the third floor running from meeting to meeting?

“Employees are looking for the ‘total package’ and that’s what Unum is hoping to offer,” says Ben Roberge, human resources benefit consultant at Unum. “We want to think of benefits in terms of total rewards, combining compensation and benefits to entice and engage existing and future employees.”

Whether you just landed that big job or are still weighing your options, consider if your company is forward-thinking and meeting your needs and wants.

 

You can read the original article here.

Source:
Dunham H. (21 June 2017). "How millennials are shaping employee benefits" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://workwell.unum.com/2017/06/millennials-shaping-employee-benefits/?utm_sq=flhwx3lz6b&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=workwelltweets&utm_content=Benefiting+you


6 tips to balance your work, family time

Climbing the career ladder as a bachelor or bachelorette is challenging enough, but having a partner or loved ones at home can add a significant level of complexity and even some guilt. There are a few ways to help manage the constant balance.

Drop Multitasking

It may be tempting to get on a work call while you are playing with your kid or out with your spouse, but the act makes you less present for your family and your client. Instead, whenever possible, choose which one you want to focus on at that moment.

Only Make Commitments You Can Keep

Stay honest in what you are capable of, as family needs sometimes will trump work needs, and vice versa. Frank conversations are easier than broken promises, particularly if you respect that both your family and your work are of equal importance and that which takes precedence depends not just on your values, but on the circumstances of the moment.

Build in Work into Vacations

It is counterintuitive, but consider setting aside an hour or so during family days or vacations to get work done. The thoughtful act puts you on the offensive (choosing your time) rather than the defensive (worrying about getting away), raises your chances of actually being productive and allows you to get the work out of the way so you can be completely focused on your loved ones later.

Know Your Family Absolutes

Most loved ones or families have absolute priorities, like always eating dinner together or always attending a partner’s event. Discussing and establishing the non-negotiables allows you to know the boundaries and creates a level of flexibility around the less important activities.

Separate Temporary From Permanent

A month of late nights and early mornings is different than a five-year career-only focus. Honestly look at the pattern of your work at the moment, assess where things are headed and avoid panicking over what could be a short-term imbalance.

Explain Your Work to Loved Ones

It can be easier to keep work at work, but try sharing some details of your current career track with your family. Even the youngest members or the least experienced loved ones may give empathy and perhaps will show more flexibility in their own needs after they better understand why you are struggling with balancing everything in your life.

 

You can read the original article here.

Source:
Brown D. (25 September 2017). "6 tips to balance your work, family time" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://workwell.unum.com/2017/09/6-tips-balance-work-family-time/


It’s the most stressful time of the year: 5 tips to get your employees through the holidays

It’s that time of year again. Employees are preoccupied with thoughts of holiday shopping, party planning and visiting relatives, and the stress of it all can seriously impact their work. So what can you do to help?

While stress is a year-round issue, there are more obvious triggers for it around the holidays. Mark Malis, the head of global human resources at LifeWorks, assembled a list of five common causes of stressduring this time of year, and what you can do to tackle them.

1. Heavier workloads

Employees taking more days off means less time to get things done. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed with work and holiday deadlines coming up fast.

The fix: Help your employees relax a little by making them feel valued. Let them know their hard work isn’t going unnoticed. You can even encourage employees to identify which colleagues are going the extra mile, and reward them with gifts.

2. Unhealthy eating

Plenty of sugary food options are always floating around during the holidays. All of the cookies and eggnog can really make your employees feel sluggish.

Encourage your employees to make better choices by hosting a healthy potluck. You can even turn this initiative into a weight loss competition to keep the good food choices going.

3. Finances

With the average American shopper expecting to spend almost $1,000 this holiday season, it’s no wonder money is on everyone’s mind.

Financial wellness workshops or budget planning seminars could really help your employees come up with a realistic budget and control their holiday spending. The less they’re worrying about money, the more employees will be able to focus on their work.

4. Depression

The holidays aren’t a joyful time for everyone. Some employees could be struggling with sad memories that resurface around this time of year.

When it comes to mental health, openness is always a good way to go. Encourage employees to discuss these feelings with each other in a supportive group setting. This can allow employees to help each other find solutions and make anxious workers feel less alone.

5. Illnesses

With the holiday season comes cold and flu season, too. Getting sick when you have a million things to get done can be disastrous.

It’s important to remind your employees about good hygiene practices. Make it clear that anyone who’s sick needs to stay home; the last thing you need is half the office out with the flu. Distributing handbooks or posters with tips to stay healthy can be a big help, too.

 

You can read the original article here.

Source:
Mucha R. (16 November 2017). "It’s the most stressful time of the year: 5 tips to get your employees through the holidays" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/its-the-most-stressful-time-of-the-year-5-tips-to-get-your-employees-through-the-holidays/


5 ways digital tools can help build a better benefits package

"...digital tools can be excellent motivators and are a popular option for keeping employees to their wellness objectives..." In this article from Employee Benefit Advisor, we get a fantastic look at some statistics and digital tools to create better employee engagement.


The American workforce has an employee engagement problem: Half of U.S. workers are disengaged, according to a recent Gallup poll. That not only has a detrimental effect on individual wellness, but on company culture and the bottom line. According to The Engagement Institute, disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion every year. In addition to being less productive, they’re also more likely to quit.

One of the most effective ways to improve employee engagement is to offer better benefits. In fact, research conducted by Willis Towers Watson found 75% of employees said they were more likely to stay with their employer because of their benefit program. This demonstrates the value of designing an employee benefits package that really works for your staff. And to even better engage workers with benefits, employers should utilize HR apps and employee wellness software.

They vary in functionality, device compatibility, and of course price, but they all share five considerable advantages:

They’re highly adaptable. Unlike programs that rely on in-person use or resources that are primarily stored in binders, digital content can be updated on the fly. This flexibility makes it very easy to keep the information current and relevant, and it even opens the door to personalized benefits. For instance, if each employee has their own login, they can bookmark the resources they find most useful and receive suggestions based on those picks. Seventy-two percent of employees in a MetLife survey say being able to customize their benefits would increase their loyalty to their current employer, which makes this perk doubly advantageous.

They’re fully integrative. One major complaint employees have is that their health information is so disjointed. Dental, physical, psychological and nutritional data is siloed, creating a cumbersome situation for employees when it comes to accessing and updating their records. Digital tools neatly solve this problem by collecting all these resources in one place. All employees have to do is sign into one account to view all their health-related resources, benefits, emergency phone numbers, enrolment information, health savings account balance and so on.

They’re constantly accessible. Have you noticed your staff using fewer and fewer benefits over time? It’s easy to assume they’ve lost interest, but chances are they’ve simply forgotten what’s available to them. Digital tools are a fantastic way of combating that attrition for a couple of reasons. First, they’re super easy to access because they can be used essentially anytime, anywhere. The second reason your staff is more likely to continue using their benefits with a digital platform is because it can serve them with notifications and reminders. They no longer have the excuse of being unaware when fresh content is added, or missing medical appointments.

They encourage employee goals. To add to the previous point, digital tools can be excellent motivators and are a popular option for keeping employees to their wellness objectives. Two of the most common goals are weight loss and smoking cessation, but your employees can use calendar, reminders, notes, fitness trackers and other features to push them toward any goal they like.

They’re easily scalable. Finally, digital tools are the most efficient way of reaching a large employee base, especially if they’re spread over a large geographical distance. It’s impossible to expect a thousand employees located in different states to attend a stress management seminar, for example, but it’s not unreasonable to ask them to watch a five minute video or listen to a podcast. Digital resources are changing the game when it comes to reaching all employees equally so that no one gets left behind.

Some things to keep in mind

Now that you’ve been convinced to digitize your employee wellness program, there are a couple of assurances you should make. The first is confidentiality. Your employees need to feel safe accessing your health resources, so guaranteeing the security and privacy of their information is a must. You should also make accommodations for various accessibility concerns. In other words, having all your resources in video format isn’t helpful for employees who are visually impaired. Also be aware of the different situations in which your staff might need access (at home, on the go, with or without an internet connection, etc) to ensure maximum ease of use.

Why is this all so important? As cool and cutting-edge as many of these digital tools are, at the end of the day your goal is to promote employee well-being and engagement. Anything that encourages your staff to come into work with a smile on their faces is worthwhile. Gallup studies have shown highly engaged organizations are 21% more profitable, 17% more productive, and achieve a 41% reduction in absenteeism. No matter how effective your current benefits package is, you can — and should — take it to the next level with a digital program.

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Mittag A. (17 November 2017). "5 ways digital tools can help build a better benefits package" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/5-ways-digital-tools-can-help-build-a-better-benefits-package?feed=00000152-1387-d1cc-a5fa-7fffaf8f0000

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