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You Should Nurture Relationships with Past Employees

It’s a fact that losing good employees is a major pain point for business owners. Not only is it hard (and expensive) to replace a quality employee, but replacing institutional knowledge, relationships, and experience takes a lot of time. But this doesn’t mean employers should avoid thinking about or preparing for the eventual departure of an employee. In fact, employee alumni networks and strong networking communities comprised of ex-employees may make the next step of hiring much, much easier.

While onboarding programs are all the rage among HR professionals and business leaders, it’s sadly common for employees to leave a company in a very different manner. New employees are greeted with training, communication, and team engagement, but an employee leaving a company may be met with an exit interview, a pat on the back, or in some cases, outright hostility, resentment, scrambling and confusion on behalf of their managers.

But this doesn’t make sense for both the business and the departing employee. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average job retention rate in the United States consistently hovers at around four years. In fact, business professionals have been noted to advise against staying in a job for too long to avoid damaging your career. So why do exiting employees so often get ignored or treated poorly?

The short answer? A lack of foresight. Previous employees can have a dramatic impact on a business even after they leave. They may come back in the form of clients, business referrals, vendors, brand ambassadors, and boomerang employees. The fact of the matter is that employees are almost never going to stay with your company for their entire career, so it makes sense for organizations to prepare—well in advance—for their eventual departure and subsequent post-departure impact on the business.

But how do you nurture relationships with previous employees?

Corporate alumni programs

These programs are popular among corporate industries, including legal, consulting, and financial services. They are designed to create a network for former employees to stay connected with their old colleagues and organizations, providing a space for them to continue growing and nurturing their relationships long-term.

According to a report by Conenza Inc. in conjunction with Cornell University, there are four main motivations people have for joining alumni programs:

  • Mission-driven
  • Career-minded
  • Pragmatic
  • Social-focused

With that in mind, it seems like a major loss for organizations to miss out on staying connected with people driven by these traits. After all, they all point to growth-driven mindsets that positively impact both the alumni and the organization.

Offboarding strategies

If you’re a smaller business or simply not a fit for an alumni program, there’s plenty you can do to maintain mutually beneficial relationships with employees after they’ve left your organization. The basics of offboarding aren’t complicated—it’s simply a step-by-step process that allows for clear communication and preparation as an employee arranges to depart, ensuring the employee and the organization have everything they need before the final day. Here are some simple steps you can take to help the process along:

  • Begin preparing for their eventual departure long before you expect them to leave by creating an offboarding program that matches your organization’s values, mission, and culture. You want employees to have a cohesive experience throughout their entire lifecycle. This will help you manage expectations and maintain trust even as an employee begins the exit process.
  • Create an ongoing dialog around career development that starts the moment an employee enters your ranks. Make it clear that while you hope employees will stay forever, you understand most employees change jobs every handful of years and you’ve created opportunities and resources for them to develop within your organization and stay connected with you after they leave.

Offboarding programs will help leaders not to go into chaotic damage control by creating a clear process for each step of the departure. It allows organizations to say, “We’ve prepared for this and made it simple and easy, so we can all continue on without anxiety.” It allows the employee to leave in a measured, calm way, and the organization to be prepared to handle their leaving without confusion or missed steps that would end up frustrating both the organization and the departing employee.

A mutual investment

For both individuals and organizations alike, the relationships developed, both externally and internally, are the foundation of success. They drive investment, engagement, reputation, and networking power. It’s simply common sense to get the best value out of the most intimate of these relationships—with your employees themselves. Remember, how you treat your employees—both current and past—has a determining effect on your reputation within your industry. Handle these relationships with intentionality and care, and reap the benefits of a robust, engaged, and long-lasting network.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

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How HR Professionals Can Benefit from Learning the Sales Pitch

Over the past several years, HR’s role has steadily risen in stature, with more and more leaders recognizing the critical nature of HR functions and their impact on business growth and the bottom line. And HR has risen to the occasion by finding solutions to the chaos caused by the pandemic, driving vital culture changes to improve equality within the workplace, prioritizing diversity and inclusion, and developing new solutions to improve the employee experience.

But despite this upward trend, the task of pitching new ideas, plans, or strategies to the C-Suite isn’t without difficulty. While you may understand how the solution you’ve worked hard to develop is right for the business, it’s not exactly easy to convey this—especially when money is on the line.

As more solutions become available and the market for HR solutions grows, HR professionals need to prepare themselves for the inevitable fight for the “right one”. But this can’t be done in a power-play.

As you prepare for your next conversation about an HR solution you’d like to implement, consider approaching it like a “pitch.”

Understand your audience

While you may understand why the solution you’re pitching is the right one, that doesn’t mean it’s clear to the CEO or CFO of the company. As you work to frame the information you’ve gathered, consider each of your audience’s perspectives, and try framing your pitch to fit their specific lens:

  • A CEO generally keeps the grand vision for the organization front of mind. They want to know how any solution will help them reach their ultimate goals. They want to be reassured that each section of the company will engage successfully with the solution. And they’ll want to know why this solution is better than others.
  • A CFO is a different story. They want to know how this solution will affect the bottom line. They may be more interested in hard numbers, data, research, and comparative data between similar solutions.

As you approach these conversations, consider how you might frame the information you have to fit your audience’s specific questions before sitting down with them. Preparing yourself for the decision-makers’ inevitable questions and worries will help you develop confidence and build their confidence and trust in you as your conversation progresses.

Start with small steps

Instead of expecting a decision to be made right out the gate, consider setting up a series of meetings in which you approach your ultimate goal of implementing the solution over time, creating stepping stones that gradually bring the decision-makers to the finish line. Set clear goals for each meeting so they’ll know what to expect. Consider breaking down the conversation into a series of small steps:

  1. Set a preliminary meeting to talk about the current solution (or lack of solution) the organization has. Review how it’s going and identify what issues have arisen. Then take a look at the overall goals of the organization and identify areas that need attention. This meeting is an opportunity for you to uncover their concerns and goals, which will inform how you approach your second presentation.
  2. In your second meeting, frame your solution around the main points and concerns highlighted in the first discussion. This is your chance to explain why you think it’s the best fit. Don’t leave your expert opinion out, but don’t forget to address your audience’s concerns. Before asking them to make the final decision, propose bringing in someone from the company offering the solution or from a similar organization as yours that has implemented it.

By approaching the pitch as a series of small steps that lead to a bigger decision, you’ll remove the anxiety around making the final purchase and help build trust as they learn about the solution.

Practice

As you prepare, don’t forget to practice these conversations. Try roleplaying and writing a list of questions you might expect. While you may think you know everything about this solution, you don’t want to risk giving a sloppy, confusing answer when the moment strikes. Run through your presentation at least three times, and identify areas that can be clarified, simplified, or left out.

Remember, you are the expert in this situation. If you believe your solution will make a difference for your organization, you owe it to your team to be as prepared and knowledgeable as possible. You got this!

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Cathy Yeulet

Battling Ageism Continued: Protecting Senior Professionals

A few weeks ago, we published a blog that covered four ways you can work against ageist practices in your workplace. While it’s a good start to identifying the subtle ways ageism can sneak in, it’s essential to address some more concrete ways ageism takes place.

The numbers behind ageism

Ageism is, without a doubt, a heavy burden on the American people and our country as a whole. Last year, the AARP released a study that calculated the U.S. lost $850 billion in GDP due to ageist practices against older workers in 2018. The same study projects that by 2050, the losses resulting from age discrimination could reach up to $3.9 trillion.

These ageist practices keep older workers out of the job market, impact any dependents they have, and force family members to pick up the slack. The study found 57% of GDP revenue lost was caused by workers forced into involuntary retirement.

Rejecting the practices of ageism

Although the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects workers 40 and over from being denied work and put at a disadvantage due to their age, a Supreme Court 2009 ruling made it more difficult for plaintiffs to win cases. The new ruling requires plaintiffs to prove their age was the deciding factor in their employer’s decision, removing what’s commonly called “mixed motive” cases from the table.

Last year, in response to the study and following public outcry, a bill (The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act) was introduced to the Senate to amend the Supreme Court’s decision and to make it easier for plaintiffs to make their case. Although this bill is not yet law, it shows a strong push to reject ageism and protect older workers from its destructive impact.

What can you do to ensure your organization isn’t participating in ageist practices?

Empower your employees

A straightforward way to hold your organization accountable? Ensure your employees know their rights and what to do when they feel their rights have been infringed upon. Educate your managers, hiring managers, and leadership team on:

  • Good defining traits to inform their decisions (experience, skills, compatibility)
  • What needs to be left out of the equation (age, ethnicity, gender, etc.)
  • What age discrimination looks like in the workplace (subtleties of language, hiring decisions)

Make sure your employees know they have a right to protect themselves from discrimination, and create the expectation that neither you nor they should tolerate any form of it. Create internal channels for employees to address issues and make sure they know what they can do to protect themselves.

Review your practices

When was the last time you looked at your internal practices to uncover malpractice, out of date approaches, and possible employee rights violations? Does anyone in your organization have this responsibility, or do you cross your fingers and hope nothing comes up?

Or did you do it at the start of your business but haven’t reviewed your practices in years?

Commit to continually reviewing your internal processes for hiring, promoting, and wage and hour decisions. If you have no system to examine these areas, you will be much more likely to find your business in hot water. The key concept here is to be proactive, not reactive.

Take action

There are ways to support older employees and increase their long-term impact and contributions to your organization. Also, keep in mind there are ways to make different roles more accessible to senior professionals. Consider:

  • Offering flexible hours
  • Offering part-time positions
  • Offering skills training

Making quarterly meetings to review benchmarks, wins, and growth areas will help your employees quantify their value to you and provide a record of their contribution and progress within your organization, protecting both their rights and yours.

Take on the responsibility 

In the end, organizations must shoulder the responsibility and duty to ensure they are providing just, equitable, and responsible treatment to their employees. Diversifying your workforce in any direction will allow you to grow and allow your community to grow with you. What’s right for your employees, is good for you, and what’s right for your industry, is good for your country. It’s time to step up to the plate and bat ageism out of the park.

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Four Ways to Fight Burnout

Even before the pandemic, employee burnout was a top concern for employers. The Mayo Clinic describes burnout as “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” It manifests in many ways that are quite literally dangerous for employees. Symptoms of burnout include insomnia, fatigue, heart disease, vulnerability to illness, and death.

So, let’s talk about some simple and practical approaches to fighting burnout in your workplace. First things first, employers need to take responsibility for leading the fight. It’s not your employees’ job to fight burnout on their own. Burnout is often caused by systemic issues in a company’s culture, leading to overworked employees who don’t have the time or resources to manage their workload.

It’s best to approach the fight from all angles and not assume there is a one-size-fits-all solution for your company. Here’s where you can start.

1. PTO and the benefit of benefits

MetLife’s recent study found that 86% of employees considered health insurance a “must-have” and ranked comprehensive employee benefits as one of the most critical drivers of employee well-being. The same study also found that comprehensive employee benefits were a driver for increased employee productivity and loyalty.

Ensure you’re giving your employees the support they need to take care of themselves mentally and physically. Consider offering them a week’s more PTO than you did the previous year and see what it does for employee engagement, productivity, and retention.

If you’re not sure this is the right move for your business, make an experiment out of it. Record your numbers for retention, engagement, productivity, and wellness for the previous year, and compare them after one year of offering your new plan.

2. Workload monitoring

Providing a reasonable workload is a leading factor in decreasing employee stress and burnout. While this may seem obvious, it can be a tricky task to work out exactly how much work is too much (or not enough) for your employees. Do your research and develop a strategy for identifying when workloads are too high and when they need to be decreased and spread out.

Involve your employees in this process. They can help you gain insight into the ebb and flow of their workload and inform you how to best respond to the challenges they face. Make sure to keep an open dialog between employees and managers and encourage honesty.

3. Human management

This leads us to understanding the different causes of burnout and how to address them. While burnout is often a direct result of a failure on the company’s behalf to manage employees strategically, sometimes it results from external issues.

The year 2020 is an excellent example of how employees may deal with the same workload they always have but struggle to keep up due to added stress from their environment, like:

The minute you ask an employee to put aside their needs, you set your company and your employee up for failure.

Design a culture that recognizes productivity naturally ebbs and flows along with our ability to manage stress, workload, and well-being. Allow your employees to be human and open about their challenges. If an employee feels like they can take a day off or ask for extra help on a project without retaliation, their stress level won’t rise, and they’ll be better equipped to get back on track and manage their workload like the dedicated employee they are.

4. Recognition

MetLife found that employee recognition was the ultimate driver in increasing productivity, engagement, and loyalty, and decreasing stress, burnout, and depression. A simple “thank you” or “great job” can be the difference between an employee feeling burned out and feeling accomplished. There are many creative ways to celebrate and acknowledge your employees, so there isn’t a good excuse for not doing it.

Looking forward

This may be an old topic, but it’s never been more relevant. As you move into 2021 and the decade beyond, you must maintain a sincere effort to help your employees lead healthy lives at work and at home. Fighting burnout will save you money, protect employee health and well-being, and give you both stronger legs to stand on.

Photo by ANDRANIK HAKOBYAN

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Kicking Ageism Out of Your Workplace

Ageism is an established problem HR departments battle. Laws and organizations have been founded upon the need to protect workers from ageist practices. A report by Glassdoor in 2019 found nearly half of respondents in the US had witnessed or experienced ageism in the workplace. It also found that younger employees, aged 18-34, were more likely to witness or experience some form of discrimination in the workplace. In the UK, for example, 48% of adults (aged 18-34) experienced ageism in the workplace, in contrast with 25% of employees aged 55+.

You might be thinking, “Wait, I thought ageism was about older employees?”

Here’s the deal.

Ageism is about senior employees, but it also encompasses young employees. It’s as easy to assume an older employee won’t know how to use new technology as it is to assume a younger employee can’t handle the responsibility of important work.

To protect your workplace from ageist policies, attitudes, and culture, take these steps.

Use your words carefully

A lot can be conveyed by how we talk to one another. What feels like harmless turns of phrase can make a considerable impression and convey held biases we may not be aware of. For instance, referring to a younger employee as a “kid” can mean you view them as a child. Think about what you’re saying and why you’re saying it. Words conveying a dismissive, slighting, or negative connotation can pop into our vocabulary without much thought but can do serious harm to an employee’s experience.

Think before you ask 

One incredibly unprofessional, but common experience young employees have is to be given irrelevant tasks. For instance, an employee in their twenties just out of grad school gets called into their boss’s office. Instead of getting a real assignment, they’re asked to pick up the boss’s cat and take it to the vet. Oh, and while they’re at it, pick up some cat food from a store across town.

Passing off personal tasks to young employees, often with the title of Assistant, is unfortunately all too common. These behaviors show a lack of respect for the employee’s experience, skillset, time, and contribution.

Review your demographics 

One way to spot ageism in your workplace is to evaluate the demographics of the people on your team. For instance:

  • Do you have a predominantly young or old team?
  • Do people in your field tend to be older?
  • Do you discount younger professionals because you don’t think they can handle the role’s responsibility?
  • Do you assume older people within the field won’t be as agile or technically capable?

Your workplace demographics are a great place to start when looking for patterns in your hiring practices that might be weeding specific demographics out of your talent pool.

Where you offer opportunities

Beware of assuming the only people who want growth opportunities and new training are younger employees. Development programs, unique and challenging opportunities, new tech, and strategy shouldn’t belong to only one demographic. Ensure you offer these opportunities to your team equally, providing room for growth and development to everyone.

Don’t get complacent 

Ensuring your workplace is both in compliance and a positive environment for people of all demographics takes commitment, effort, and diligence.

This isn’t a conversation you should have once and move on. Diversity, inclusion, and anti-discrimination should be an ongoing conversation and priority for business leaders across industries. Train your managers to catch their own biases, recognize ageist practices and mentalities, and address it when they see it. Teach your employees to do the same and build a system that acknowledges and responds appropriately to employees who speak up.

Creating a safer, more inclusive environment won’t just protect you from lawsuits but protect employees so they can flourish and grow within your organization.

 

Photo by Viacheslav Iakobchuk

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Are Exit Interviews Really Worth It?

The value of exit interviews is a long-standing debate in the HR world, with people landing on both sides of the aisle. Some argue if an organization is broken, exit interviews are useless and hurt the interviewee’s reputation. Others say they are an excellent opportunity for an organization to learn from its mistakes.

The reality? The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Every time a valuable employee leaves an organization, it suffers. Not only because of the cost it takes to hire and train a replacement, but also:

  • For the loss of institutional knowledge
  • For the time it takes for teammates to adjust
  • For the potential dip in productivity and team morale
  • For the loss of value to customers

So, it makes sense that the smartest move for an organization is to try everything to mitigate loss.

The catch

Exit interviews, team check-ins, increased training, and team development are tangible ways to counteract the loss of a valued employee. However, if your organization suffers from a toxic company culture and mindset, or functions under a fear-based leadership style that discourages open and honest conversations about what’s not working, you’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands.

In this kind of culture, exit interviews will likely be ignored and forgotten. Organizations failing to manage these issues will likely experience (at least) one mass exodus of employees. For that reason, it’s worth doing what you can to conduct honest exit interviews.

For example, suppose employee retention is low. In that case, it’s likely at some point, leadership will take a keen interest in figuring out the cause, at which time those exit interviews will come in handy. No matter the case, exit interviews can be instrumental if handled correctly. If you’re interested in doing what you can to improve your organization, inform your leadership, and mitigate loss, then exit interviews are a great place to start.

Follow these steps to make the most out of them.

Don’t wait 

It’s essential to get your interview in before too much time has passed. Everything will still be fresh in the interviewee’s mind, making it easier for them to recall information and offer suggestions. However, be sure to account for heightened emotions as this can be a rather tumultuous time for a departing employee. It may be worth it to schedule another interview a few months down the road when the dust has settled to allow for hindsight and clear thinking. 

Clarify goals

Before you start your interview, work out what it is you’re trying to gain.

Do you want:

  • To uncover processes that need a review?
  • An honest assessment of managers, leadership, or team dynamics?
  • To get a picture of the job they’re leaving for?
  • To find out why their new job is more attractive than their current role?

Knowing the goals and what you want to gain will help you frame intentional questions and prepare for the answers.

Review  

A common misstep is to forget the interviews as soon as they’re done. But there isn’t any point in conducting them unless you’re ready to follow up, analyze the data, and use what you learned.

Respond 

Once you’ve gotten what you can out of an interview, set up action steps for integrating what you’ve learned. If your goal was to see how your company compared to its competitors in talent attraction, your response would look different than if you wanted to uncover issues with leadership styles. Make sure you lay out your goals and how you’ll reach them both before and after an interview; otherwise, all it will do is gather dust and become irrelevant.

Start before it ends

Internal reviews are a critical part of growth and development. While exit interviews are an excellent way to mitigate loss, they aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution to uncovering issues within an organization. If you’re really interested in improving the employee experience, work out leadership problems, evaluate company culture, and generally drive your organization in a good direction, don’t wait until an employee leaves to get their opinion.

Start early and start strong. Set internal reviews throughout the year, with individuals as well as entire teams. Normalize feedback and open, honest communication. Train leaders and managers to respond to and positively integrate constructive feedback. And above all, work to foster a trusting environment where employees feel free to share their experience without fear of retribution.

All of this may be uncomfortable, but the positive impact on your organization makes it well worth the effort.

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Getting the Competitive Advantage: Optimizing HR

Your HR team worries about a lot of things.

They worry about compensation, compliance, retention, engagement, attraction, productivity, company culture, and more. Over the past few years, HR has gotten more and more attention as leaders recognize its ability to drive results and growth.

If your C-Suite hasn’t yet, it’s well past time to start strengthening the ties between HR and your leadership teams. With the right direction, HR can provide insights into different levels of your organization that direct managers, individuals, and high-level leaders can easily miss.

Uncovering the competition

A large part of attracting and retaining top industry talent is standing out among your competitors. This requires an intimate knowledge of the different factors employees care about right now, not what ten years ago.

HR has a unique window into this subject. They have access to internal team reviews, the benefits you offer, and professional development plans. They’re there for interviews and can track what questions candidates ask about the culture, what you offer, and how your business is run.

All this is a roundabout way of saying HR has the hard data you need.

If you’re wondering why a clutch of employees all left at the same time or why you don’t see a strong ROI on your benefits plan, your HR team has the answers in substantial, verifiable numbers. Their insight can be invaluable when deciding what perks to offer or how to develop company loyalty and engagement.

Setting you up for success

While HR may have a lot of insight into your organization’s critical parts, it’s essential to remember they are busy. Without a concerted effort on behalf of the leadership, their wisdom can go unspoken, unused, and wasted. To make sure you don’t waste your opportunity for development, take these steps.

Start the conversation

At the beginning of every year, sit down with your HR team and start a high-level conversation about your organization’s current state. Ensure you hit the major talking points: benefits, employee engagement, retention, compliance, and culture. Get a gauge on where they think you are on the competitive landscape. Think about and ask such questions as:

  • What are your competitors offering?
  • Who have your employees left your organization to work for?
  • What do employees care about currently?
  • What are the trending challenges employees are struggling with?

Use this conversation as an opportunity to brainstorm ideas, solutions, and possible challenges. Identify three high-level, long-term goals you have.  Break those goals down into actionable, measurable, short-term goals to focus on throughout the year.

Revisit, review, repeat

Set quarterly meetings to review progress on each of these goals. Make sure to set the tone for open, honest communication. Your HR team needs to know it’s okay to talk about these issues because without that confidence, these meetings will be useless. It can help to focus on hard data to de-personalize successes and failures.

Make these reviews about progress and engage and encourage your team’s creativity to solve problems and develop new ideas to help you keep your competitive advantage. Set measurable, SMART goals to create a clear path forward.

Unlock your potential

Since the HR department touches different parts of your organization, its ability to affect change and assess your company’s health can be meaningful. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to gain real insight, gauge where you are in your competitive landscape, and set yourself up for success. Strong leaders understand the need for transparent internal processes for growth, and HR has the insights to get you on the right path.

Together, your potential is more significant than you may think.

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Four Ways to Spread Gratitude Within Your Organization

Gratitude can be the simplest and most direct way to foster an organization of employees who feel valued, engaged, and driven by purpose. A thousand studies exist detailing how employee recognition can reinforce employee loyalty and boost productivity—but it’s just common sense when it comes down to it.

If you tell your employees how grateful you are for them, you’ll see them find greater purpose in their roles, dive deeper into their work, and have them feel like their effort matters. It’s the same in our relationships. Ignore what someone does for you, or feel ignored yourself, and those relationships will suffer.

With the holidays upon us, now is a great time to work in some gratitude to your weekly to-do list. Try these four ideas to get the gratitude flowing.

1. Share it

One great way to show an employee some gratitude is to share it on social media from your company page. Boast about their talent, what they’ve done for your organization, and how grateful you are for their hard work. The public nature of this form of gratitude makes it all the more valuable. You aren’t just telling all of your employees and your followers about them, but you’re speaking to their entire network. By building someone up publicly, you’re:

  • Displaying a beautiful part of your company culture for all to see
  • Celebrating someone on your team who deserves the applause
  • Setting an example of what you value within your organization that others can emulate
  • Publicly demonstrating your company values

While this type of gratitude is simple and doesn’t take a ton of effort on your end, it can mean a lot to an employee who wasn’t expecting it. Have fun with it and remember to spread the love to more than one employee.

2. Make it a team effort

Peer recognition can be a wonderful thing. But how do you encourage it within your team? Consider creating a company-wide recognition program where colleagues nominate one another for different prizes. The prizes don’t have to be big—it’s the thought that counts for these types of things. It can be a fun way to get employees thanking each other, and to foster a sense of team spirit and camaraderie.

Weave the announcements into a spot at your annual holiday party, in your company newsletter, or at monthly team meetings. It’ll be a fun way for employees to build each other up and celebrate one another’s contributions.

3. The gift of cash

You might know the saying “cold hard cash”. For most people, receiving money is neither cold nor hard (especially if it comes attached to a handwritten note or a heartfelt message). In challenging times (which this year has definitely served us), pure compensation can make a real difference in someone’s holiday. For instance, their spouse may have lost work due to the pandemic, or they might have a sick child, or they may have lost value in the volatile stock market. Whatever the case, cash can be an effective way to give back a little of the value you received from an employee. If you don’t have extra cash to give out, consider including a note with their holiday bonus (if they receive one) or a gift card to a store.

4. The gift of time

Another great way to show appreciation is to provide employees with an extra day or two of PTO. Spending extra time with the family or going on a fun weekend trip goes a long way in boosting employee energy and engagement. Having time to rest and do something fun can be one of the most valuable gifts for employees who are used to working hard just to get those few extra days off.

However they choose to use their PTO, they’ll associate the free time with you and the gratitude you showed them.

Don’t hold back

Showing gratitude never gets old.

You can’t overdo it.

You can’t thank someone enough.

You may never know the extra hours your employees put in under the radar on projects, or the late nights they spent making something perfect, or the customers they went out of their way to please. Employees do this on their own, often without people telling them—and displays of gratitude keep them going above and beyond for you. Gratitude opens up a two-way street, where thankfulness flows back and forth, driving loyalty, satisfaction, and purpose.

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

 

Tips for Virtual Onboarding

Hiring is a tricky process. You’ve got a lot at stake, and you want to make sure you start strong. But what does hiring look like with remote employees?

You can’t have them shadow someone all day, and you can’t walk them around the office to get acquainted with the team. And onboarding goes beyond the first day–it can easily reach into the first few months after someone assumes their position.

Today, managers hiring remote employees grapple with many questions:

  • How do company values integrate into the onboarding experience?
  • How can new hires feel more connected to the team?
  • How can new hires feel welcomed?
  • What is the best way to mentor and coach new hires?
  • How do you ensure the psychological safety and well-being of new hires?

Try these tips for improving the virtual onboarding experience.

Help them connect

One way to help new employees feel connected with their team and your company values is to boost both individual and group face time. Instead of merely introducing the new hire at the next team meeting, consider breaking up onboarding tasks and assigning them out to different team members to complete. For instance, if you need new employees to get a handle on your file-sharing system, your various communication channels, and your project management processes, assign each team member one task to teach them.

Don’t worry if you have overlapping subjects shared between team members. It never hurts to learn something twice, and it helps reinforce the way your company approaches communication. These one-on-one meetings give new team members a chance to question their peers about what it’s like to work for you. This opens up opportunities for your team to instill company values from the get-go. 

Keep your new hires safe

Psychological safety is a crucial component of a strong company culture. Particularly in virtual environments, it’s critical to over-communicate—especially in the beginning. Creating a transparent feedback process that’s open, encouraging, and constructive will help prepare new hires to interact with your team and accomplish projects.

To counteract possible anxiety stemming from a lack of social and interpersonal cues, make an effort to expressly tell employees when their work meets or exceeds expectations—even for something small. A well-written email to a client, a clearly organized document—whatever it is, make sure you tell them. A simple “well done!” can go a long way in helping them get a feel for how well they’re performing in their new role.

Additionally, make sure you have a transparent system to catch and deal with bad behavior. Workplace bullies don’t go away just because your team is virtual. Develop a company culture that discourages any toxic behavior and a system to manage it if it occurs. 

Clarify the unspoken rules

With many people suffering from increased anxiety and depression due to the pandemic, developing ways to make your work environment less stressful goes a long way in helping people acclimate to their role and to your company culture.

Every workplace has a list of unspoken rules people slowly pick up on as they acclimate to the work environment. But these rules may be harder to pick up on in a virtual work environment, leaving employees to guess what’s acceptable and what’s not. For instance:

  • Is it okay to turn off cameras for a short time during long meetings?
  • Is it acceptable to take a break and go for a walk in the middle of the day?
  • Are you expected to respond immediately to messages on Slack?
  • How are you expected to dress for internal and external meetings?

Make a list of unspoken company rules available to your team members. This will relieve stress and help your new employees settle in quicker and easier.

It’s a team effort

When approached with a collective mindset, onboarding becomes easier than leaving it to one person to guide a new employee through the first few months in their role. A team approach encourages new workplace friendships, better communication, and clearer company culture. Consider doing a post onboarding survey to gauge what you did well and what needs improvement. Keep looking for new ways to engage your team members, both new and old. Virtual work environments don’t have to be lonely and isolating.

Give your team a structure for clear communication, community, and connection, and watch them thrive.

 

 

Photo by mavoimage

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Wellness Plans: Q&A

Are you thinking of implementing a wellness program? If so, check out answers to these common questions.

Q: What kind of wellness plans are there?

A: As employee wellness has increasingly gained attention and a spot on most employers’ priority lists, the variety of wellness plans has increased. Your wellness plan will change depending on several things: where your priorities are, what your budget is, and the demographic you want to reach. Some examples of standard plans are:

  • Wellness programs to help stop bad habits such as smoking
  • Paramedical plans that offer massages, chiropractic work, or acupuncture
  • Employee assistance plans and teletherapy to provide mental health support
  • Physical activity challenges such as community races or a team steps contest
  • Coaching services for leading a healthy lifestyle (cooking, physical activity, mental wellness)

Q: How do I choose a wellness plan for my business?

A: Not every wellness program will work for your business. First, ask yourself, “What is my primary goal for implementing an employee wellness program?” Your plan may look different if your goal is to reduce healthcare costs for your business than if your goal is to create more loyal employees by developing a positive culture.

In either case, the main thing you want is for people to participate. If you choose a plan that doesn’t interest your employees, they’ll be much less likely to participate, resulting in a low ROI. Send out a survey, taking the temperature of your employees’ feelings about a wellness program. Ask what interests them, what challenges they have and would like help with, and how they see themselves participating. Use what they tell you to inform your wellness plan choice.

Q: Do wellness plans work?

A: There’s been some back and forth about whether or not wellness programs work. Critics point to studies showing a lack of clear improvement or healthcare savings for employers who offer wellness programs. There have also been studies showing that while people who participated in the programs cited feeling happier and healthier, their participation didn’t result in decreased healthcare costs for employers. Other studies show that programs aimed at increasing physical health are most often used by those already in good health and can possibly alienate those who aren’t.

However, the conversation of employee wellness has become a top concern for employers and employees alike. Employees expect more from their organization and value jobs that support their overall wellness. Proponents of wellness programs point to studies linking them to increased employee retention, satisfaction, engagement, and much more.

Q: How do I keep my wellness plan in compliance?

A: In the past few years, regulations for ADA-covered wellness programs that include employee participation incentives have come under some scrutiny. Critics say wellness programs that require employees to pay higher premium costs for not participating or not meeting specific health-related goals are immoral and violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This year, the EEOC has proposed new regulations, requiring only “de minimis” incentives for employee participation. Under the new rules, health-contingent wellness programs would still be allowed to offer incentives of up to 30% of the total cost of insurance, but no more. So far, the new regulations haven’t been published yet and will likely be challenged. To stay in compliance, be sure to know what kind of wellness program you’re offering and how it may be affected.

 

Photo by Vasyl Yakobchuk

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners