Posts Tagged ‘workplace morale’

Keep Your Employees off the Playground: Preventing and Dealing with Workplace Bullying

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Today’s news headlines are filled with stories of childhood and teenage bullying with dire consequences, but name calling, intimidation and similar behaviors do not always end in high school.   CAI’s CEO Bruce Clarke recently addressed the topic of workplace bullying in his News & Observer column, The View from HR. In his October 2 edition, he informed readers that 50 to 75 percent of employees have witnessed or experienced workplace bullying.

A company bully can be an associate, a manager or even the chief executive of the entire organization. Workplace bullies can utilize tactics that can be detrimental to a coworker’s health and career. Giving the silent treatment, humiliating others in public and attacking a person’s character or beliefs are shenanigans from a typical bully. Terrors in the office can hold even more power over their victims’ heads by refusing to give coworkers information, implementing impossible deadlines, ignoring achievements and repetitively mentioning mistakes.

Victims of bullies can suffer physically and mentally. Many studies have shown that workers who are frequently bullied report to be more stressed, prone to stomach aches and ulcers, and unhappy and unsatisfied at their jobs. Not only does the victim suffer, but the employee’s organization will also experience negative residual effects. Workplaces that ignore company bullies can lose respect and credibility from their employees. Company morale could lower and absenteeism could rise. Employees who are bullied may struggle to focus on their work, which can decrease productivity. Some staff members might look for new jobs to escape from their bullies, causing turn over to increase.

 As an HR professional, you must do your part to create a bully-free work environment. Here are some tips to help you form a peaceful and productive workplace:bully

  • Never ignore a complaint about bullying. Respect your employees and let them know that you trust and believe the information that they give you. Many times victims are embarrassed or scared to report incidents of bullying. Let your employees know that you care about them and will listen to their grievances. Assure them that you will help them resolve their problems as soon as possible.
  • Create an environment of open communication. Make it okay for employees to feel comfortable talking to their managers about how they are feeling at work. Encourage team members to share factors that make them feel stressed and help them devise a plan to work through tough times.
  • Educate employees on workplace bullies and the effects they can have on their coworkers and their organization.  Providing training on bullying to all staff members, including senior leadership, can help reduce the chances for a company bully to thrive. Advocate that employees report any occurrences of malevolent workplace behavior.
  • Draft a policy that prevents bullying and make it available to all staff members. This policy should include language on how to make a proper complaint, how managers should react and how issues will be handled. Enforce a strategy for dealing with bullies and assign appropriate punishment for misconduct. Counseling for bullies is also suggested, so they understand the errors in their behavior and can work to improve their work performance and keep their jobs.

Additionally, if a bully threatens his victim with violence, waste no time to get to the bottom of the issue. Depending on the severity of the threat, calling the police to report outrageous behavior can be effective. For more information on how to handle bullies, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice & Counsel at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Eddie~S

Happiness: The Productivity Booster

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Unhappy WorkerRecent surveys from reputable sources, including The Conference Board, Mercer and CNNMoney, reveal that American workers are the unhappiest they have been in more than two decades. Statistics that highlight workforce unhappiness include:  84 percent of employed Americans are unhappy at their current jobs (CNNMoney), only  45 percent of workers are satisfied with their current jobs (the Conference Board) and one in three American workers is serious about leaving their current job (Mercer).

These gloomy statistics leave company leaders searching for strategies to keep their employees content and productive. It is a fact that retention rates increase when employees are satisfied with their jobs, and their job satisfaction is influenced by many factors, such as the work they do, the support they receive and the people they work with. Another key indicator for job satisfaction is the level of happiness employees have when they are working.  Research shows that creating a positive work environment increases productivity and overall health in employees.

There are multiple reasons why happiness is an instant productivity booster for workers. Here are a few:

  1. Employees who are happy relate better with others, including their coworkers and clients. This helps improve teamwork and customer service.
  2. People who are happy tend to be more creative and are open to different ideas. Increased creativity also helps employees problem solve more effectively.
  3. People who are happy at their jobs enjoy what they do, so they have more motivation to perform well.
  4. Those who are happy tend to get sick less frequently. Being sick instantly decreases productivity, and employees who dislike their jobs are prone to stress, making them more susceptible to catching a cold or getting ulcers.
  5. People who are happy are also more likely to be optimistic. Optimists are more successful and productive and complain far less than those who are unhappy.

Happy Face

Although not every employee will become happy, companies can encourage employees to participate in activities and make choices that will promote happiness. Organizations have several options of exercises and tasks to give employees the opportunity to increase their happiness, and ultimately increase overall company productivity. Happiness coaching is spreading through business culture—large companies are hiring happiness coaches to train their staffs, and graduate schools are now offering classes that promote workplace happiness.

Try implementing some of the simple, yet highly effective strategies below to boost the happiness of your employees:

  1. Have staff members evaluate their strengths and utilize them to work more effectively. They will become more engaged and happier over time.
  2. Encourage employees to write positive emails to colleagues that praise them on work they have recently completed. This will help promote good employee relations.
  3. Allow workers to take multiple breaks during the workday. Studies prove that short time away from work reenergizes individuals and helps them increase their productivity.
  4. When appropriate, suggest that employees use their vacation and sick time. Ample vacation or recovery time will help them return revitalized and productive.
  5. Help staff members take advantage of training and educational opportunities when available. Learning new information or skills will help them achieve greater success and will increase their happiness.Meditate

There are also a number of steps employees can take on their own to help increase their individual happiness and health. Below are several tips to help your staff members improve their outlook on work:

  1. Exercise for at least 20 minutes three times per week .
  2. Take time to meditate for a few minutes each day.
  3. Make your self-talk positive to work through stressful situations or errors. For example, instead of saying to yourself, “You idiot.” Try, “How can I work to make this better?”
  4. Focus on issues or situations that you can control, instead of worrying about factors that you cannot.
  5. Plan a routine for your daily activities to establish a productive week. This can include choosing specific times to wake up or listing projects you want to start.

For more information on how to promote happiness in your workplace, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Bark, Jessica Tam, Big Mind Zen Center

Help Your Employees Save Money in a Down Economy

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

The cost for almost everything—gas, food, insurance, etc.—is currently rising. Unfortunately, due to the economic recession and other business factors, employees’ paychecks are not increasing at a rate to offset the higher cost of living. As an employer, there are several ways to help your workers keep money in their wallets. Helping employees save money will increase their job satisfaction and the company’s retention rate.

Here are a few tactics to help staffers cut down their expenses:Carpool

1. Carpooling

  • Today’s gas prices are fluctuating around $4 across the country. Help workers save money at the pump by encouraging them to carpool with their coworkers. Put a signup sheet in the office break room to make others aware of those interested in carpooling.

2. Flexible Schedule

  • Thanks to technology there are several ways to adjust the traditional “9 to 5” work week. To help employees avoid traffic, allow them to come in earlier or later and leave earlier or later. Additionally, agreeing to let employees work from home at least one day of the week could help them save a few hundred dollars in gas per year. Some organizations are even implementing 4 day weeks with longer work days to combat gas prices.

Lunch3. Staff Lunch

  • Although your organization might be unable to provide daily lunch for all staff members, offering a free meal a couple of times per month will be appreciated. Ordering in for your workers will help them save money on lunch and on gas.

4. Pre-Tax Accounts

  • Health Saving Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) allow employees to put money away in pre-tax accounts for health care services and goods. Offering this benefit will assist employees in the long run because it will help them take advantage of their earnings and increase their savings.

5. Retirement Plans

  • It is never too late to help your employees invest in their retirement. If a 401(k) p401(K)rogram is available at your organization, ensure that all eligible staff members know the advantages of opening an account. The contributions made for 401(K)s are pre-tax dollars, and the interest on the accounts are compounded to make greater profits.

For more information on helping your employees save money, as well as strategies to retain your top talent, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Richard Drdul, Matt Seppings, Calita Kabir

E-Monitoring in the Workplace: Do’s and Do Not’s

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

The e-monitoring of what employees do in the workplace may include the use of video surveillance, keystroke logger software, email filters, phone logs, phone call recordings, Global Positioning Systems, and logs of website visits, among other methods.

Although courts have tended to reject infringement of privacy claims based on employer e-monitoring, the best course of action is to have a company policy that clearly states which communications are subject to monitoring—including when, where and why. Most employees believe that it is okay for their employer to monitor them only if they are made aware of the fact that they are being monitored. The company that monitors employees secretly is only asking for trouble.

Here are the do’s and do not’s of e-monitoring in the workplace.

DO:

  • Create and distribute a company policy that lets employees know what is being monitored, when it is monitored, where it is monitored, and why monitoring is necessary.
  • Be sure to state what benefits monitoring will bring to the company as a whole.
  • Monitor only what is absolutely necessary. Company management should not be perceived as an intrusive or abusive “Big Brother.”
  • Ensure that the personnel who have access to the monitored information have a “need to know.” Access must be limited to only certain highly trusted individuals.
  • Securely store the data collected, particularly when it includes sensitive information, and let employees know that this data is not available for internal or external public disclosure.
  • Address employee use of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook or blogging during work hours. Company policy should provide guidelines for blogging or tweeting about the company, its personnel and its products and services.

DO NOT:

  • Do not make employees feel paranoid or uncomfortable.
  • Do not place severe restrictions on employees’ use of cell phone and text message communications. Granted, you do not want drivers sending text messages or being distracted by cell phone calls while on the job, but in most workplaces, the safe and occasional use of personal cell phones rarely disrupts work processes.
  • Do not implement technologies such as webcams, location tracking devices or keyloggers on company laptops or other resources without a thorough understanding of the technology’s capabilities and rigorous legal review.
  • Do not neglect to address employees’ use of their personal Internet-based email accounts using company resources such as computers or company-issued cell phones. Any restrictions should be clearly stated in your company policy on e-monitoring.
  • Do not try to completely restrict employees’ use of the Internet in a prohibitive manner. You will create goodwill when employees are allowed to surf the Web during lunch hours or breaks to quickly look up the address of a restaurant or to order products online.

Breaches of employee privacy can result in litigation or employee retention issues at the very least. Approach e-monitoring with a healthy respect for privacy laws and today’s complex regulatory environment, as well as sensitivity to ordinary human behavior, and you will be successful.

For additional information about e-monitoring in the workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: Ed Yourdon

Creating a Successful Mentorship Program

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Mentoring is a tool to grow employees and accelerate their career development. Companies that offer mentorship programs enjoy many benefits, including retaining top talent, increasing company loyalty and keeping employees engaged. Overall company productivity is also improved when mentorship programs exist.

Employees who are mentored gain critical company knowledge, learn new skills and receive feedback on their career growth and goals, which help them to succeed in their positions. Senior staff members who mentor prosper from the experience, too. Researchers found that their work productivity increases, they have less stress and they feel revitalized in their careers.

Benefits are achieved only if the mentorship program has a strong structure and committed participants, so follow these guidelines to create a successful initiative:

Define the Goal and Structure

To make sure the mentorship program flourishes, it is important to have a strong program goal. Whether it is to help new hires acclimate faster or to cultivate potential manager candidates, one focus will help the program triumph.

Establish an end date as well. More people will participate if there is a specific time frame, and an end date gives a new set of employees an opportunity to experience the process.

Facilitating and Participation

A good mentorship program has a designated facilitator, often called the Mentoring Program Manager (MPM). The MPM creates the mentoring program and works to align the initiative with company goals. The point person sets clear expectations for both the mentors and mentees, which include the time commitment and level of engagement needed from all participants.

Ensuring all staff members are involved in some way or are aware of the program will help the initiative obtain good results. High-level executives should partake in the process—either to offer suggestions to the program facilitator or to serve as mentors themselves. Their participation will help others see the program’s value.

Mentees, Mentors and Managers

Specify criteria for those being mentored. Mentee candidates will help define the qualities needed for mentors. In addition to having excellent communications skills and a strong ability to relate with others, experts suggest that mentors should be at least two levels above the mentee. This requirement guarantees that they can offer great company information while understanding their mentees’ roles. This format eliminates competition for jobs or promotions as well.

Managers provide information similar to what mentors offer, but they have different objectives and job requirements when working with their employees. Managers want employees to grow and perform to help company productivity, and unlike mentors, managers can assign projects, conduct performance reviews and recommend raises or promotions.

Companies should avoid staff members mentoring people they directly manage because they act as key decision makers for their employees. Mentees might feel as though they cannot freely talk about their frustrations and weaknesses with their managers. Mentors who are not managers provide employees with a safe environment to discuss various topics.

Follow Up, Evaluation and Results

Facilitators should make a great effort in following up with participants throughout the process. Encouraging open communication and constant feedback will help the MPM get a gauge on the program’s progress.

Because it might take months to years to see direct results, patience is required when launching a mentorship program. Making sure you get feedback from participants is important when measuring its effectiveness. Surveys and interviews help evaluate success, and final results received will help your company determine if the program was a good investment and if there are improvements needed for a future initiative.

For more information or tips on successful mentorship programs, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Retaining and Benefiting From Long-Term Employees

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

All successful company leaders and senior management executives understand the value that comes from long-term employee relationships. With low levels of turnover, organizations are better positioned for success, internal consistency and stability, but how can companies get to the point where employees consider their place of employment permanent instead of temporary? It all comes down to maintenance, recognizing individual and departmental needs and making those needs an overall company priority. Here are five ways to keep your employees’ loyalty at a high level:

Motivating and challenging workload – Boredom is one of the fastest ways to have your staff turn to job employment search engines. There is little or no excitement that comes from performing the same routine day-to-day. Even though the mundane tasks still need completion, make sure employees are participants in interesting projects and that their workload is challenging.

Acknowledgement and appreciation of work well doneConfirmation of strong performance is more effective than you may realize. By publicly acknowledging the achievements of your staff, you remind individuals of their own personal value to the organization, which is critical. When employees can visually recognize that the work they do not only matters, but makes a difference on a companywide scale, they have little reason to find satisfaction elsewhere.

Upward growth opportunities – When given a challenging workload and excelling at the tasks at hand, employees sooner or later are going to inquire about internal advancement. Be open to discussing growth opportunities and remember, employees are not looking for instantaneous promotion; they just want to know that there is an open path for management consideration.

Healthy working environment – Does your company operate under high levels of tension, stress or anxiety? Monitor the environment your employees are exposed to and try to keep high levels of stress and concern within executive offices. When employees are aware of all elements of the organization, performance levels may decrease because of the concern and worry that arises.

Personal relationships and understanding – Employees are likely to remain loyal when relationships have a personal component. It’s important to maintain the subordinate-management roles, but make sure that employees understand you are there for support, mentorship and guidance.

Long-term employees have a strong organizational knowledge base that will assist in the teaching and training of new company members. Investing in your current staff will always benefit you and your company in the long run.

For additional information on employee retention, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: A Pillow of Winds

Top Seven Management Myths

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Bruce Tulgan of Rainmaker Thinking, Inc. will be delivering one of the keynote presentations at CAI’s 2011 HR Management Conference. Bruce is a well-respected expert on leadership and management and is also internationally recognized as a thought leader on young people in the workplace.

Bruce’s presentation for the HR Management Conference is entitled It’s Okay to Be the BossTM: Developing the Managers that Your Employees Need. He will focus on what he calls the biggest problem in corporate America – an under management epidemic affecting managers at all levels.  Participants will be challenged and given tools to help their managers spell out expectations, monitor and measure performance constantly, correct failure quickly and reward success even more quickly.

As a preview to Bruce’s presentation we will be posting a series of three videos here on the Workplace Insights blog.  In the first video Bruce highlights the top seven management myths.

Employers Bring Back Job Perks

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Let’s be honest – everyone appreciates the perks that certain jobs can bring. At the peak of the economy job perks were as golden as the job itself. Perks like the famous end-of-year bonuses, continued education tuition assistance, lavish off-site holiday parties or discounts on day care costs and gym memberships are some of the big incentives companies have used to win employees and stand out among competitors.

In the midst of a game-changing economic recession, however, many companies had to place job perks on hold, with the focus no longer about all the extras, but about providing a reliable paycheck.

According to the research director of Forum for People Performance Jennifer Rosenzweig, job perks are beginning to return to the table. As the recession dwindles down and companies begin to see more positive profit margins, job perks are making a comeback.

The comeback of perks means that we are slowly, but surely digging ourselves out of this recession hole. It also means that to stay competitive and continue to attract talent, companies must get back in the perk game. Obviously salaries, benefits and internal relationships weigh heavily on an employee’s choice to stay long-term with an organization, but often it’s the small things that can make the difference. Job perks help preserve top talent, attract new talent, maintain company morale and build a reputation as a company that appreciates the hard work of all its employees.

What can you give your employees this holiday season? Maybe your budget won’t let you provide anything extravagant. Consider an in-office luncheon, a small holiday dinner, or handwritten thank you notes. It’s important to realize that this year’s gifts don’t have to be something grand.

Most employees understand the financial cutbacks and sacrifices that have recently been made. It’s the simple and small gestures that remind employees they are appreciated and valued, and that their efforts have not gone unnoticed.

For more information or to discuss related issues to job perks, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: Kelvin Kay

Preventing Nursing Assistant Misbehavior

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

There has been quite a bit of research done on employee misbehavior or misconduct.  Locally, Drs. Bill Tullar and Ken Wexley have been doing specific research on the misbehavior of nursing assistants.

They have classified misbehavior into four categories:

  1. Production deviance – includes behaviors that waste time and resources.
  2. Property deviance – involves either theft or destruction of facility or residents’ property.
  3. Normative deviance – generally involves talk that hurts or belittles others.
  4. Personal aggression – mostly involves hitting, fighting, or sexual harassment.

These behaviors on the part of nursing assistants cost hospitals and nursing homes large amounts of money.  Moreover, they represent a very real legal liability – can the facility prove in court that it exercised due diligence to prevent misbehavior that has bad consequences for residents?

What is to be done?  There are two basic approaches management can use to lessen or mitigate these problems.  First, more careful selection methods should be used to assess candidates before they are hired.  The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, but misbehavers are those least likely to report their past behavior voluntarily.  Thus, it is necessary to go beyond simply asking job applicants about what they have done in the past.

Second, there are management processes and procedures that can be used to minimize the opportunity for misbehavior on the job.  These include, but are not limited to, careful control of access to the drug cabinet, supervision at certain times of the day, and clear policies for employees of the consequences for their misbehavior.

Let us examine selection issues first.  Background screens are indispensible for proper selection, and many facilities already require them.  But assessments of basic skills, personality, attitudes, values and motivation are also essential.  Some of these can be assessed by well-designed interviews, but others can only be measured by psychological testing.

Realistic job previews may also be helpful in weeding out those who are not temperamentally suited to the job.  While there is some basic nursing knowledge that nursing assistants must have, it is generally not lack of knowledge that causes them to misbehave on the job.  Administrators may object, saying that such selection procedures are tedious and time consuming, but proper due diligence in selection is well worth the time and effort.

With regard to management of misbehavior once the nursing assistant is on the job, there is no substitute for effective training.  The basic values and expectations of the facility should be communicated to candidates from the very first encounter.  All recruiting literature should feature values and norms of the facility prominently.  Orientation training should reiterate these norms and values.

A session on expectations and disciplinary procedures should be included in the early training of the new hire.  Management should maintain a zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol abuse, physical or verbal abuse, and sexual harassment.  Cases of these violations that occur should be made public, and the discipline outlined in the training manuals should be followed carefully and as publicly as possible.  Supervisors should know that when they report misbehavior that they are just doing their job.

Misbehavior by nursing assistants can have catastrophic consequences for any nursing facility.  It is important that management be able to show that they have exercised every possible precaution to prevent such things from happening.  While such precautions do not guarantee that misbehavior will not happen, they will limit its frequency, severity and legal consequences.  An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure.

To learn more about setting up effective hiring processes and orientation training to prevent nursing assistant misbehaviors, please contact Kevin von der Lippe at (919) 878-9222, (336) 899-1150 or kevin.vonderlippe@capital.org.  In addition to the special assessment tools for screening Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Kevin will be happy to talk to you about CAI’s background checking services.

Photo Source: Otisarchives4

Using Social Media for Employee Communications

Friday, May 28th, 2010

It’s an all too familiar refrain from HR professionals – employees missing response deadlines, asking why and when their benefits were changed, and getting upset about “new” policies.  But you know that you’ve sent out a number of communications and done everything short of putting the employees in a closet and forcing them to fill out the required form or read the information.

I can’t promise you it will result in 100 percent participation, but one new trick you may want to try is social media.

“Social media?”  you say.  “Isn’t that just for people sharing their photos and the endless details of their monotonous lives?”

Well, yes, and no, but that really is the point.  The key to communicating to an audience is to talk to them where they are, and it is highly likely that many of your employees are using social media.  So how can you take advantage of the huge growth in social media usage to improve the responsiveness of your employees to important HR requests?

The first suggestion is to ask employees if they use social media and if so, what websites they most often utilize.

If most of your employees are not social media users, or if the ratio is around 50/50 but you really want to try something new, your best bet is to set up an employee communications blog.  This will give you the ability to communicate the messages you’d like to send and to encourage the interaction of employees through commenting.

The process of setting up a blog can move quickly and easily, especially if you use one of the more common free platforms like WordPress or Blogger.  You’ll want to privatize your blog if you only want those within your company to have access.  Or you may want to show the world what a great company you have, which is the approach that Zappos.com takes.

Of course, the most popular social media platform right now is Facebook.  Knowing that Facebook has such a large number of active participants may push you in the direction of setting up a corporate page for your employees.  Setting up the page can be done quite quickly.

Keep two things in mind– your employees may not feel comfortable linking their private profiles to a corporate page, and you will have to adjust the privacy settings of your Facebook page if you only want employees to view it.

Another social media platform that may be more appropriate for your HR goals is LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is most often thought of as the more professional social network.  Through LinkedIn, you can set up a group that requires approval to join and invite employees.  You can set your group up to automatically send e-mails when you’ve posted information, either discussions or news.

Twitter is another alternative you may want to consider.  Setting up accounts on Twitter is easy, and you can protect your tweets.  For your employees to receive the information you send, they will have to follow you.  The challenge for communications using Twitter may be the 140-character limit per tweet.  You could consider using it as a way to get the word out about a new post to your blog or Facebook page.

You may want to start by dipping your toe in one of these alternatives as a way to support the methods you already use, or you may be ready to completely transition.  Either way it will be important that you fully research and understand the new platform you choose to use, whether it be a blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or one of the many other alternatives.

Are you considering using social media for employee communications?  What advantages and/or disadvantages do you see?  If you’ve already implemented a social media platform, please let us know your thoughts on how it is working.

Photo Source: benstein