Tips for keeping employees motivated, engaged and productive.

Age diversity: An underemphasized and underappreciated competitive advantage

It seems that our culture focuses diversity attention on the areas of gender, race, and ethnicity. Why don’t we focus on age diversity, too? Workers of all ages have something of value to bring to the workplace.

Having a broad range of employees will give your company the advantage of perspectives that help make your products or services relevant to a broader market.

Consider that in 2016, almost 20 percent of Americans 65 years old and older were working, according to Bloomberg. That’s a higher percentage than ever before in the United States. Some societal factors impact why workers who may have retired at a traditional age continue to work, including increases to the full retirement age for Social Security benefits, loss of traditional pensions and stock market fluctuations that can impact retirement savings for many.

Read more

The world of hiring is time-consuming; here are some tips

If you have hired anyone recently, you know how difficult and time consuming it can be to find the right talent. A lot of time, energy and expense goes into a recruiting strategy: Crafting a job description, posting and socializing the opportunity, then filtering, screening and interviewing candidates before presenting a job offer and onboarding the new employee.

Much of this is done before an employee has even started with your organization. Once you find someone great for your team, you absolutely want to keep them and find more of them. Here are some ideas on how to attract and retain these great employees.

Read more

Safety critical as numbers of younger, millennial workers increase

Millennials will overtake baby boomers in 2019 as the largest U.S. population group, according to government data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. The Pew Center also notes that about 56 million millennials (those born from 1981 to about 2000) now work compared to 53 million baby boomers remaining on the job. Millennials make up about 33 percent of the U.S. population, according to Pew.

This is changing the workplace in many ways and will impact worker safety. These younger workers are more likely to be injured and they take safety issues in the workplace seriously. So should you.

Read more

Peanuts and other food allergies are on the rise; employers should take notice of this trend

I am in the process of planning my son’s fourth birthday party and a mother of one of the children invited asked me to accommodate her son’s peanut allergy as I select birthday treats for the party.

That made me consider how adults with food allergies may be affected in the workplace. I learned that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under the age of 18, and that number is on the rise. A study conducted in 2013 reported that food allergies among children increased approximately 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, for example.

Read more

Why appreciation is important in the workplace

Have you ever felt unappreciated at work? Then you understand how important recognition in the workplace can be. Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work.

Gallup research finds that “only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days.” Employees often feel that their best efforts are routinely ignored. Those who do not feel adequately recognized say they are twice as likely to quit in the next year, research found. Read more

Morale may get a boost during March brackets, but try to minimize distractions

It’s here! March Madness is upon us and the bustle around your office involves which teams made the tournament, selecting brackets and game start times. While you may dread this time of year as a manager, this annual sporting event may not be as detrimental to office productivity as was once thought.

An OfficeTeam survey of 1,000 managers and 400 workers in office environments found that 11 percent of managers find March Madness activities to be a welcome diversion. Those managers believe the activity can increase teamwork and boost morale. Read more

Be ready when employees wonder ‘Should I stay, or should I go?’

If you talk to any business owner today and ask them what their biggest challenge is, they will likely say finding and keeping good people. They would engage you in a long conversation about the challenges they face when losing their good ones and how they have a very difficult time recruiting or finding replacements. This is a time and money drain for any organization.

Don’t wait until your good people leave to learn what it takes to keep employees or why they stayed as long as they did? Conducting “stay” interviews is an easy way to take the pulse of what is happening in your business. If you want more great people, simply ask your current great employees for their input. Stay interviews will help build employee engagement and foster a good culture as you build trust with employees.

How to get started

  • Select a few of your key employees and ask them to participate. You want more of these engaged and honest individuals on your team.
  • Explain why you are asking them to take part: that they are a valued member of the staff and that this is to help you retain and recruit more employees with their gifts and skills.
  • Conduct these stay interviews once or twice each year and do them within the same timeframe. Do not wait until employees become disengaged, or even worse, leave, to understand what’s going on.
  • Make it known you desire their honest feedback. That includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Employees must feel safe to express their opinions and that the manager will have an open mind and not get defensive. They should never feel there will be retribution for any of their comments.
  • Focus on the positives/wins that they express. Create and share your action plan from the results of the stay interviews. People want to know they have been heard and are making an impact.

Following is a list of the best questions to get the stay interview process started. They are open-ended, easy to ask, get the conversation energized questions, and the response will contain valuable insight and make a difference in keeping your employees.

  • What do you look forward to when you come to work?
  • Why do you stay working here?
  • Do you feel that we fully use your talents in your current role? Are their additional talents/interests/experiences that you could offer?
  • What are the frustrations or less desirable parts of your role that you would like to do less of?
  • What is an example of any recent recognition or acknowledgement that you received that increased your engagement to the company?

Make the process a win-win

Stay interviews are an inexpensive and effective way to drive your business improvements forward quickly. The management team receives honest feedback and the employee feels valued and empowered to help make the business better.

Take the feedback and put it into action. Communicate your actions with your company and recognize the impact the feedback has provided. It will be a win-win for both employer and employee.

Do you need additional help and tips for employee retention? Contact your BCN Services representative, your partner for all of your company’s HR needs.

Corey Decker, Sales Manger

FMLA, parental leave and medical leave can all be options for life events

Starting and growing your family is an exciting time, and the last thing an employee should worry about is how to take time away from work for life events such as this. Employers should develop a policy before these questions arise.

It is common for employees to assume they will get a certain amount of time, either paid or unpaid, away from work. What a business is required to offer is typically dependent on its size. As an employer, you should be prepared to share this information when an employee announces they are adding another member to the family. The options include: FMLA, parental leave, medical leave or a combination.

FMLA is the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which applies to employers of 50 or more. FMLA requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of time off for the birth or placement of a child for adoption or foster care. FMLA protects the employee’s job and benefits but does not require an employer to pay the employee for the time they are away. If unpaid, employees may be able to use vacation/PTO time or collect from their short-term disability benefit (if applicable). FMLA applies to both parents for the purpose of bonding with the child as well as giving a mother time to recuperate from labor and delivery. FMLA is clearly outlined for employers and can be found online here: https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/benefits-leave/fmla.

The term “maternity leave” was commonly used to describe the time a mother needed off after the birth of a child. The term is outdated, as an employer cannot discriminate against the other parent for the purposes of taking time off. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) also requires pregnancy to be handled as if it were like any other medical leave.

The compromise and appropriate nomenclature is “parental leave,” which is a set period of time an employer allows an employee to be off work for the birth or placement of a child. It is simply describing a period of time, not the medical needs for a woman to be off following labor and delivery. A parental leave may include wage replacement, such as paying part or all of the employee’s wages while off work, or it may be unpaid. Just like FMLA, a parental leave is not required to be paid, but some employers may choose to do so.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently ruled in favor of a new father in a case of parental leave discrimination. This new dad received a $1.1M settlement, and not giving new fathers the same type of leave as new mothers to bond with a child can result in a claim such as this.

Medical leave allows for an employee to be off work for a medical condition. This includes time off after childbirth for a woman who had a baby. Labor and delivery would fall under a medical leave policy, but bonding time is not. The woman’s doctor provides information about the length of time a patient needs to be off of work and this would be handled in the same fashion as an employee undergoing major surgery who is off due to a doctor’s order. Employers may choose to have a medical leave policy instead of offering parental leave, or they may have both.

FMLA is the set of federal regulations, but an employer can always choose to be more generous. If your Medical Leave Policy goes above and beyond FMLA, then your handbook can include just the Medical Leave Policy on its own and not include a separate FMLA policy.

It is surprisingly more complicated when an employer isn’t required to follow a federal regulation and if they also don’t have a policy in place. In these cases, employees in similar situations may, unintentionally, be treated differently. That is considered discriminatory, which is why it is imperative to create a policy and follow it. Having a policy also avoids an awkward conversation when an employee approaches an employer with a leave request.

BCN handles all types of employee leaves for its clients and can assist in policy creation. Please talk to your Human Resources representative and let them know if you have any questions about the types of leaves listed above or any other type of employment leave.

 

KariStanley_6698

Kari Stanley, HR Customer Call Center Supervisor

 

 

Employee burnout can cause high turnover and increased business costs

A recent poll of more than 600 HR professionals from companies and industries of varying sizes found that employee burnout affects 95 percent of all organizations. This same study found that the three main factors affecting employee burnout are: unfair compensation, unreasonable workloads and too much required overtime or after-hours work.
Further analysis showed that poor management, employees not clearly seeing the connection between their role and the business’s strategy, as well as negative workforce culture, are key factors that continue to fuel this issue. These are also factors that HR can control.

Burnout is a situation in which an employee feels extreme exhaustion that can be physical, emotional or mental in nature. Some signs of burnout include: An inability to concentrate or remember important things resulting in mistakes, increased absenteeism and accidents, disengagement or lack of interest, lower productivity, irritability and lack of patience with coworkers and clients and excessive cynicism.

All of these symptoms can translate into a negative impact for your business. Additionally, businesses affected by employee burnout suffer a higher turnover rate, lower employee engagement and increased spending on healthcare costs to cover psychological and physical problems related to employee burnout.
Some strategies for combating employee burnout include:

  • Allow and encourage your employees to take their full lunch break as well as short breaks throughout the day.  Additionally, add activities during business hours that give employees a reason to leave their desks.
  • Encourage employees to use their allotted vacation time.
  • Give your team a treat when there has been a stressful week or a big goal has been met. This could be food, gift cards, a jeans or casual dress day, or allowing employees to leave early.
  • Define an employee’s role by ensuring that they have an up-to-date job description and understand the expectations of their performance in that role.
  • Keep work hours reasonable and be realistic when assigning tasks and deadlines.
  • Maintain an open door policy. Members of your team should feel comfortable sharing if they feel burned out or being offered the opportunity to share ideas that contribute to success of their role and the organization.

Contact the experts at BCN Services if you need help developing incentives, policies and ways to help keep your employees motivated and productive.

AliciaFreeman_6679

Alicia Freeman, Operations Manager

Employers walk a fine line when personal life interferes with work

Because employees spend so much time together, it is sometimes difficult to keep their personal and work lives separate. It isn’t uncommon for co-workers to become friends and to spend time together outside of work. These relationships sometimes invite gossip and workplace drama, so what can an employer do when personal relationships affect the performance and culture within a company?

Here are a few examples of situations that may prompt concern or cause employees to focus on things other than their work tasks:

  • Jim and Betty, coworkers, have dated in the past and then parted amicably. However, now that Jim is dating another co-worker, things don’t seem quite so agreeable between them.
  • Amy and Cara became friends at work and decided to move in together to share expenses. Their personal squabbles about dishes in the sink, overnight guests and splitting expenses are affecting the workplace as colleagues are asked for opinions and are taking sides.
  • Jessica called in sick for her shift on Wednesday, but posted pictures from a concert on Facebook. Her coworker, Robin, saw the post and let Jessica’s supervisor know about it. Now Jessica’s supervisor isn’t sure what action she can take.

What can an employer do in these situations?

Action needed only if workplace performance is involved

First of all, an employer needs to make sure action is taken only on matters that pertain to workplace performance. In the first case, the employer may want to evaluate Jim’s ability as a manager and have Betty report to someone else within the company, if their relationship is becoming a problem or conflict of interest. Gossip itself can be actionable if it becomes harassment.

Another thing to consider is involving a third party in coaching counseling and discipline. Even when addressing performance only, it can be hard for a manager or supervisor to completely separate from workplace gossip and personal feelings.

Another way to help facilitate a change in the workplace environment is to let employees know when their hard work is appreciated and offer incentives for good performance. An encouraging and uplifting policy may remove the focus from the gossip and drama to something more meaningful. This may also be a good time to evaluate the employee goal-setting process and give the employees something to focus on, other than each other. Also, create workplace policies that discourage gossip.

Educate employees about a healthy environment

Educate employees on how harmful workplace drama can be, and confront employees that appear to be “stirring the pot” or creating an uncomfortable work environment for others.

Workplace friendships and other connections are unavoidable, but drama and gossip is not a necessary part of running a business. By encouraging professional behavior and minimizing conflicts of interest, employees are better able to blend their personal and work lives.

KariStanley_6698

Kari Stanley, Human Resources Customer Care Supervisor