Halloween: Workplace events can boost morale, build teamwork

Halloween has fast become a favorite holiday for employees to celebrate in the workplace. Not only is it a fun, morale-boosting celebration, it can also be used to encourage and build teamwork.

As with any office celebration, form a small committee to plan and execute any festivities. Instead of this being coordinated by the Human Resources staff, you may want to rotate primary responsibility for holidays from department to department to get more staff members involved.

This rotation is important and allows for team building and leadership development across the company, since planning and executing holiday celebrations builds staff skills.

Next, come up with new fun and creative ways to celebrate. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Costume party or parade: Keep the event simple and encourage employees to wear their costume to work for the day. Alternatively, you can make the celebration more elaborate and hold a party or a parade of costumed employees around the company.

Costume contest: Have multiple categories such as best costume, funniest costume, the most sophisticated costume, the costume that took the most work to make, the scariest costume, and the most creative costume.  Advertise awards in advance and provide a nice gift to the winners such as a gift or catalog certificate.

Halloween breakfast: It’s the perfect time of the year to serve cider and doughnuts. Other options include pumpkin and apple bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin coffee cake, or pumpkin-and-apple muffins. For those who prefer healthier options, provide assorted fruits. Use this opportunity and make the breakfast a team-building celebration. Encourage employees to spend time together rather than retreating with their breakfast to their office or cubicle.

Halloween luncheon or potluck: You can as easily make a Halloween luncheon or potluck as a seasonal breakfast. For the potluck, suggest employees bring a fall-themed soup or chili. Or, order pizza, sandwich wraps, submarines or any other popular luncheon menu.

Halloween decorations: Offer prizes for best and most festively decorated work area and give out awards similar to those mentioned above for costumes. Encouraging teams to work together to decorate a shared work area will enhance the team-building aspects of this competition

Pumpkin carving contests: Make the pumpkin carving a contest between individual employees, or between departments. Either option is a fun, creative team-building opportunity.

Halloween appeals to the child in many of us and workplace events are a favored way to celebrate this increasingly popular holiday.

One word of caution: Not all employees celebrate all holidays and Halloween can be one that carries some connotations that may not sit well with everyone. Be sensitive to this and never force an employee to participate in something that makes them uncomfortable. Consider an alternative way for these employees to stay involved without compromising their feelings. Perhaps consider, instead, a more generic Fall-themed event for your staff.

Happy  Fall!

If you have questions about morale-building or other staff efforts and special events in your workplace, contact your specialists at BCN Services to discuss your individual situation.

 

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Lisandra Garrow, HR Generalist

Eye on safety: Workplace injuries are preventable when the focus is on safety

More than 2,000 eye injuries occur each day while people are at work. Of these, 10 percent result in missed workdays and 10 to 20 percent of incidents will cause temporary or permanent blindness.

Almost 90 percent of these injuries could have been prevented by having employees wear appropriate eye protection while on the job.  Following is information to be aware of during Eye Injury Prevention Month, which takes place each October.

Eye injuries can result from a variety of causes:

  • Flying objects in the air
  • Tools
  • Particles
  • Chemical splashes
  • Harmful radiation

To protect your eyes from injuries while at work, consider the following recommendations for employees:

  • Identify and eliminate workplace dangers before beginning your tasks for the day.
  • Select safety glasses or goggles appropriate for the job and your facial features. Glasses should rest firmly on the top of your nose and close to (not against) the face.
  • Wear glasses or goggles that are properly ventilated for the work you are performing. Unless you are working near splash hazards, use goggles with plenty of side ventilation to prevent fogging.
  • If goggles fog easily, try another model with more ventilation or coat them with an anti-fog liquid.
  • Always keep safety goggles and glasses clean. Scratches and dirt can reduce vision, cause glare and may contribute to accidents.
  • If you wear prescription glasses, wear goggles designed to fit over your glasses or use safety glasses made with your prescription.

 But if there is an accident, follow these steps:

Specks in the eye

  • Don’t rub the affected eye.
  • Flush the eye with lots of water.
  • Go to your occupational medical clinic if the speck doesn’t wash out or if pain/redness continues.

Cuts, punctures and foreign objects in the eye

  • Unlike with specks of dust or metal, be sure NOT to wash out the affected eye.
  • Don’t try to remove a foreign object stuck in the eye.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

Chemical burns

  • Immediately flush the eye with water or drinkable liquid. Open the eye as wide as possible.  Continue flushing for at least 15 minutes, even while you are on your way to seeking medical care.
  • If a contact lens is in the eye, begin flushing over the lens immediately. Flushing may dislodge the lens.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

Blows to the eye

  • Apply a cold compress without pressure, or tape crushed ice in a plastic bag to the forehead and allow it to rest gently on the injured eye.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if pain continues, if you have reduced vision, or if blood or discoloration appears in the eye.

Sources:  The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, National Safety Council, the Health & Safety Institute

 

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Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

Office politics at a new level: Managing the political season in the workplace

Election Day is right around the corner and as the big day approaches, chatter in the office can get louder and louder.  This year, in particular, people seem to be more divided than ever on the outcome of the upcoming national election.

How should this be handled in the workplace?  Is it OK to debate politics in the office?  Is it OK to try and persuade a fellow coworker?

While many are eager to share their political views with coworkers, other staff members may feel very private about their opinions and can feel bullied by the ones that are more vocal.  Things can get heated quickly and it’s important for staff to feel they are working in a nonvolatile environment.

Below are some simple guidelines that may be helpful in your work environment.  No matter what side of the political aisle you are on (or maybe you are taking no position), these helpful tips may help make the environment at work comfortable for all:

  • It’s important that managers or staff in leadership positions be careful in sharing their political views. Be sure that your views are not perceived as a representation of the Company as a whole.
  • Do not allow political signs/banners to be displayed in the workplace. Banners, posters, signs can all be a source of contention for fellow employees that don’t share the same views.
  • Managers or staff in leadership roles should refrain from asking employees what their political views are.   You would not want an employee to question whether they had missed out on an advancement opportunity.
  • Nip it, quick. If you hear about chatter among coworkers that could raise tension, don’t let it linger. If a complaint is made to a manager, it should be dealt with as quickly as possible to avoid bigger issues down the road.
  • Respect each other. You may want to address such rules of respect in your employee handbook.
  • As Election Day approaches, prepare: Tension can rise quickly on and shortly after Election Day. Make sure your staff understands that while they may feel strongly about the outcome, coworkers may feel very differently.

BCN is here to help you with your HR needs and if you would like assistance in establishing Code of Conduct rules in your employee handbook, we are here to help.

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Wendy Allen, Marketing Manager

Anatomy of a claim: Why It costs you money and how we can help

Have you experienced the misfortune of having one of your employees hurt on the job?  What happens in the ensuing hours and days determines both the care of your employee and can often drive the cost of your insurance for the next four years.

You are a responsible employer.  You send your employee to a nearby clinic and complete your OSHA Form 100.  You file a “First Report of Injury” to your agent or carrier, begin the process of medical treatment, and expect a speedy return to work.

This is where the difficulty begins.  In a perfect world, the above steps, properly timed and managed, result in a doctor’s visit and some short-term planning for getting the employee’s work done while they mend.  What often happens next can spiral your costs upward, many fold, and can affect your rates for years.

A typical employer workers’ comp claim, even with the best of breed insurance carriers, can involve upwards of 6 claims adjusters in the process.  Traditional carriers have specialties divided among staff for business efficiencies, but the cost for these types of handoffs and the possibility of miscommunication can be significant for any ONE claim.

BCN Services offers a unique “point-of-service” approach to workers’ compensation claims, where BCN’s Risk Manager, and ONE Dedicated Claims Adjuster manage care for your employee, from the time they are injured until they are able to return to work.   A support team, including our national loss control and legal teams, meet regularly to support claims closure and focus on each employee’s care and return to work.

The results of our business model are exceptional service for our client, extraordinary care for the employee, all while controlling your long-term costs.  It is a true win-win for our clients.

We have many cases that evidence how this system works for our clients.   We would enjoy sharing more about why our clients choose BCN and how we can help you and your business.

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Andy Hans, President/CEO