We hear the term “work-life balance” quite often, but how are we encouraging employees to maintain this balance? With the holidays quickly approaching, people are not only thinking about the upcoming deadlines for the projects they are working on. The additional deadlines of holiday cards, parties, gifts, and family obligations will also begin to move to the forefront of people’s minds. Consider the following when working with employees during the holiday season.
1. If an employee is thinking about something they must do outside of work, they are not thinking about their work. Having a working relationship with employees and/or encouraging managers to have relationships with those they supervise will allow those who may be acting out of character to be noticed. A simple check-in can help catch distractions early and allow for collaborative problem solving between employee and manager to find ways to focus while at work.
2. Understand the holidays can be emotional times for some. Preparing for family, cleaning the house, buying gifts, and other holiday preparations are no small task when added to already busy schedules. Being mindful of this will help when communicating with employees on a day to day basis.
3. Employees appreciate sensitivity to their needs. This is not to say all work responsibilities go out the window, but if someone requests a day off for holiday preparation and it is within your organization’s means to approve it, do it! Employees will return feeling better about having checked off items on their to-do list, allowing them to be more productive at work.
4. Celebrate with employees. Holiday parties are a great way to bring those in an organization together to celebrate the previous year and rejuvenate for the next. Find ways to celebrate which align with your organization’s culture and are appealing to your employees. Find a time that is convenient for as many people to attend as possible. Holiday cards, gifts, or e-mails are also a nice way to say thank-you to employees for all their work throughout the year.
The holiday season can be an exciting time for organizations and employees. Accomplishments can be recognized and motivation to have an even better year can be sparked. Open communication, mindfulness, collaboration, and celebration can help alleviate some of the holiday stress and lead to a positive and productive working environment.
Written by Amy Kline, Organizational Consultant
Few issues in the domain of business are thornier, more complex, and emotion-packed than that of how much money to pay someone for the work they do. Employee compensation thrusts its tendrils into considerations no less substantial than motivation, employment law, labor unions, production, and the very profitability of the enterprise. Oh, yeah. That.
Corresponding almost exactly with the arc of the Great Recession, we’ve been blinded of late by arguments put forth, like shiny objects, suggesting that the paper stuff that goes in your pocket (cash compensation) isn’t as important as the cornucopia of less extrinsic factors that have entered the deal in the workplace… things like concierge-type services, telecommuting, or participating in Habitat for Humanity builds alongside your co-workers.
Whoa, full flaps, brakes, stop! To be sure, there is considerable attraction and motivational impact in achieving a state of camaraderie, and in job-related perks that are special. Indeed, one of us helped launch FedEx, and for a while when the business was running on fumes, it certainly helped to be working alongside a charismatic CEO with a warrior spirit, to be a participant in reshaping commerce, and for every employee to have the opportunity to ride free on company planes, because the mixture of cold, hard cash was pretty lean.
But at the end of the day, people, nearly all of us are motivated, at some level and to a significant degree, by money. We are. Aren’t you? Sure, it’s not everything, but it’s definitely in the mix. And it’s more in the mix of late for two reasons:
1. Due to a still struggling economy and a slack labor market, real hourly earnings are mired US$0.24 below the December 2008 high.
2. Employee engagement levels are abysmally low, to wit the deal in the workplace tends to be more transactional, where cash is the coin of the realm.
So chewy and multidimensional is the comp issue that an entire professional association, WorldAtWork (formerly known as the American Compensation Association), exists to help employers figure it all out.
Credible studies abound, suggesting that higher compensation won’t necessarily buy you a better performing organization. In chapter 5 of our latest book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, we illustrate that with some NFL stats showing that many of the highest paid football teams in the US consistently turn in some pretty middling results.
Still, most of us don’t lead entire organizations; we lead individuals. And taken one person at a time, let’s be clear. Sometimes it IS about the money.
It’s sometimes about the money, because people who are struggling to make ends meet, or who believe they can earn substantially more somewhere else, or who feel taken for granted spend more time thinking about their comp-related woes than they do thinking about their work, their customers, and your business. When that happens, they can’t possibly be as engaged as you need them to be.
It’s sometimes about the money because, let’s face it: right or wrong, in our society, money sends a message. A message about a person’s worth. One’s composite view of his or her “deal” at work consists of at least these four factors:
- Leadership: How do I feel about the person I report to, and the big guns who run the place?
- Meaningful work: Is what I do valuable and important to others, and do I get frequent reminders of that? Expressed appreciation is a HUGE part of this one.
- Lifestyle fit: Does this job support and promote the kind of life I want to live? Schedule, benefits, amenities, time demands, etc.
- Compensation “Worth-its”: Am I satisfied with the money I earn?
You’ll notice that the above list is heavily weighted in favor of intangibles. Only one factor – the last one – is tangible. Most of us would like to maximize the mix of these elements, but they don’t all have to be perfect. If I really like my boss, and the work provides a real sense of meaning to me, I may be willing to work long and inconvenient hours for less than optimal pay. But if I have to work for a jerk doing stuff that doesn’t provide much emotional satisfaction, you’d better be prepared to fork over the big bucks, or I’m outta here. Mentally if not physically.
Think about your competition for talent. Someone else can always outbid you on the tangible; not necessarily on the intangibles.
Here’s our position, and some tips to go along with it:
- You should never pay anyone more than you can afford, or more than they’ve earned. And not substantially more than the market dictates.
- Without violating anything in the above bullet point, make your very best offer to attract and retain the best people for your organization, and keep them interested.
- The question of whether or not you can afford a certain amount for a certain person must be balanced with the question, “Can we afford not to pay that certain amount?” Consider the cost both if the person were to leave, and if they were to power back. If you really are underpaying someone, do you really expect to get their best work?
- Stay educated on what the market demands. Take advantage of current salary survey data for your industry. Your professional association probably has some. Be sure to filter for geography, profession, education and most of all, demonstrated capability.
- You can offset the desire for more monetary compensation – to a fairly substantial degree – by paying lots of attention to the intangibles mentioned above. Especially appreciation. Simply saying “thank you” – and meaning it – can go a long, long way. It’s worth real money. But be careful about using these intangibles to justify paying less than you can, and less than you should.
- Apart from paying “stay bonuses” or step increases, never increase anyone’s base compensation simply for hanging around another year. If given a choice, your compensation dollars would be much better spent as merit-based differentiation than endurance pay.
- Paying people by the hour is intellectually bankrupt. Find a way to correlate people’s pay with the income or value they provide to the organization.
- Give everyone as much information and control as possible over how much they earn. Here’s a conversation we love to hear (and have): “You want to make more money? Let me show you how.”
Until next payday, wishing you the best!
Blog from: Contented Cow Partners
An organizational culture that fosters employee engagement attracts talented employees, empowers them to do their best and creates an environment where they are less inclined to leave. The engaged employee exudes a strong desire to be a part of the value created by the organization and will consistently choose to exert extra discretionary effort focused on creating better outcomes for the clients/customers and ultimately the organization.
Research shows engaged employees are:
- 10 times more likely to feel good work is recognized.
- 10 times more likely to feel Senior Management is concerned about the employees.
- 8 times more likely to feel their supervisor encourages their growth.
- 7 times more likely to feel they receive regular performance feedback.
- 4 times more likely to be satisfied with their job.
- 4 times less likely to think about leaving the organization
A recent Blessing White Employee Engagement Report - which surveyed nearly 11,000 individuals globally – revealed engagement levels have increased world-wide since the global financial crisis. However, less than one third of employees are actually engaged and more are currently looking for new opportunities - suggesting that the existing personnel strategies are not hitting the mark.
“People are certainly looking to move more than ever given the increasing stability in the current market,” says Carlyle Perring, senior consultant Belinda Fisher. “The main reasons they’re proffering to move are first and foremost to progress their career and challenge themselves. The second and third reasons are mentoring and remuneration. The three things that employees seem to want are mastery, autonomy and purpose.”
According to Blessing White’s Employee Engagement Report:
- Leaders should focus more on their relationship building, rather than their actual skills or actions.
- “Employees’ knowledge of their managers as ‘people’ behind their title appears to impact engagement levels more than manager actions,” the report states.
- Executives continue to struggle in their renewed efforts to engage with their employees.
- “Executives appear to struggle with key leadership behaviors correlated to engagement, yet findings suggest executive behaviors can have a greater potential impact on engagement than manager actions.”
- “Executives aren’t getting the basics of performance right” and a lot of this is because organizations do not take the time to truly understand their people and what drives them.
According to Fisher, despite increased efforts, organizations could do more to address employee engagement and retention, particularly with respect to career progression and ownership of work. “… firms need to show their staff that they trust them to do their job by allowing them to take ownership of their work,” Fisher advises.
Fisher adds that managers should help their people to develop their skills for the next stage of their career. “A lack of ‘attention’ can cause bright and ambitious team members to feel unfulfilled for a lack of professional challenges,” she says.
To consistently elicit extra discretionary effort from their people, organizations must truly treat their people as the assets that they are.
What does your organization do to make you feel valued?
~Witten by Jonathan Eisler, Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group, sourced in part from Lawyers Weekly. While much of the initial research for this article was in relation to employee engagement within law firms, many of the concepts and findings contained herein are applicable across industries.
by Avatar Solutions
Tags: employee engagement
So what keeps HR professionals up at night? A lot of things, all of which I hear about every day when speaking with my HR colleagues. Although I’m sure the list below will not surprise you, the topics might be helpful to know so that you don’t think you’re crazy. Here they are in no particular order.
- The rising cost of healthcare
- A redefinition of the employer-employee relationship (i.e., telecommuting, telework, flexible workplaces, etc)
- The economy
- Dealing with a multi-generational workplace
- Worklife balance issues
- The government’s role in the employer — employee relationship
- Globalization and outsourcing
- Recruiting and networking online
- Technology’s impact on HR
- Employee training and development
If you as an HR person aren’t facing these issues, you will be losing sleep. And plenty of it. The workplace is much more complex than it has been in the past. For organizations to continue to compete, they are going to have to address some or all of the issues listed. The solutions are not simple but there will be no solution without facing the issues and beginning discussions about how to effectively deal with them.
Unfortunately there are no magic pills available to make this easier, only a prescription for long-term therapy.
So here we go again. Another debt ceiling crisis in our government. I’ve spoken about this in past blog posts and I certainly don’t want to be redundant but, after all this is a redundant problem. I don’t want to sound corny and quote the band Smash Mouth “why can’t we be friends” but this crisis certainly does beg that question.
We all know how important it is in business and our personal lives to have the ability to get along as our main goal. But those folks in Washington just don’t get it, do they? It seems to them that there is an “I” in team or maybe a better point is that there just ain’t no team.
I have spent a great deal of my career helping organizations to function more productively and efficiently. There is no magic in this. Success is all about working together as a cohesive unit where everyone pulls in the same direction. To do this effectively, you have to do a few things.
- Making sure all parties agree with and at the very least, accept the objectives and goals set by leadership
- Insure the freedom and safety for everyone to offer ideas including competing ideas in a respectful manner
- Having a mindset that is about alignment wherein all participants in the process want the same thing; a successful outcome.
This doesn’t seem to be what regularly occurs in our government however. Quite the contrary all of the parties seem to feel that only their agenda and ideology is the answer. I once heard it said that successful outcomes occur when all parties feel like they have lost something. That runs counter to our current governmental situation where each party feels that only 100% victory should be the outcome.
Like any other workplace, compromise and the desire to serve the needs of the customer should be the primary objective. Too bad we can’t put all of these government officials on a “performance improvement plan”.
Author: Bernie Dyme
As I was preparing to write this article, I was interrupted by having to make arrangements for our 3rd Critical Incident Response (CIR) that week (this was the 4 day work week after Labor Day!). We have responded to 8 worksite incidents in the past month and I have yet to total the number of CIR’s we had in 2013.
This has caused me to reflect on how this has changed within the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) field and how prevalent and valued CIR’s have become among the companies served by Perspectives and other EAP service providers.
As you read this, we will have just passed the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and we are reminded of the experience we received in responding onsite to workplaces following tragic events. As EA Professionals, we have since been increasingly called upon to assist employers who have experienced stressful events ranging from layoffs and downsizing to shootings and other violent acts to domestic terrorist attacks. We have learned from experience and research that there is not one approach or method that is the correct way to respond to these events. We must first consult and learn the needs of that specific organization related to the particular incident they have experienced and then tailor an appropriate response.
At our annual NIEAPA Conference this June, Bob Vandepol and Jeff Gorter gave an excellent presentation on “The Evolution of Critical Incident Response for the Workplace”, that included the current best practices that have been developed based upon the experiences and research over the past decade and advanced by their company, Crisis Care Network. They summarized the history as follows:
The Evolution of Critical Incident Response for the Workplace
- Hippocrates (400BC) – “The minds of mortals… often in sleep will do and dare the same…”
- American Civil War – “Soldier’s Heart”, “Railroad Spine”, unique vulnerability
- WW I (Early 1900’s) – “Shell Shocked”
- WWII (1940’s) – Applying the Tools of Newly Emerging Field of Psychiatry (P-I-E)
- Viet Nam (1960’s) – Diagnosis of PTSD Comes to National Awareness
- First Responders (1980’s) – Recognition of Need, Development of Models
- September 11, 2001- Widest Application of CIRS to General Population
- 2002 to 2005 – Early Research, Evaluation, Validation of Best Practices
- 2005 to Present - PFA, Resilience emphasis, Meaning Attribution
- And Beyond! – Skills for Psychological Recovery, Psychological Body Armor, virtual response delivery
The consultative phase of the response should be done within the following framework:
- Evidence-informed best practices (R2P)
- Support for psychological first aid
- Continuum of care: multi-component and phase-sensitive
- Selectively drawing from existent models and approaches
- Continued valuing of group interventions
- Minimizing risk of harm. Assessment of who benefits and who might be at risk.
- Recognizes the role Meaning Attribution plays in recovery trajectory
- Interventions specifically designed for the work setting
The onsite services would be done according to the Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide and would include:
Core Activities of PFA
- Contact and Engagement of those in need of assistance
- Comfort and Safety for those affected
- Stabilization of situations and reactions
- Information Gathering to assess impact
- Practical Assistance
- Connection with Social Supports
- Information about Coping
- Linkage with Collaborative Services
This is a snapshot of their presentation and the slides of the entire presentation are available on the NIEAPA website; http://www.nieapa.org/
While EAP’s provide many important services to assist employee’s, most of these are done in private, confidential settings and are only known to the employer through anonymous, anecdotal stories. Employers most often remember how you responded when called upon to help during a time of crisis. Knowing the best way to meet their need will long be remembered and valued.
By Rick D. Kronberg, LCSW | Director of Clinical Services
Yes, of course we all know that men and women communicate in different ways. It’s in our DNA. Women are emotional, and men just want a “cure.” So, here is the solution. First of all, the most important thing in relationships is to “not sweat the small stuff,” and to add humor to any situation that seems like it is getting out of control; for example, sometimes women might act a little overboard when getting frustrated or irritated…. The best thing that a man can do is to say something like “I appreciate your excitement” instead of the man starting to get all upset and angry and “retaliate” while not listening to what is really bothering his woman. It’s important that the quote, “I appreciate your excitement” is discussed before the next blowup so that both people are aware that this is going to bring them down to a quieter level, and more importantly will cause both the man and the woman to relax and laugh appreciating the humor in the situation.
Now, to be fair, an example of a man getting to a place where a woman can’t understand his behavior and, the poor communication could possibly end up in an all-out yelling fest……here is the solution….if a man has misplaced something, they (at times) tend to get irrationally upset…. Now, using a mixture of rational communication and humor, the woman will bring up the fact that even though he can’t find the pair to his sock, the good news, is that she will go out tomorrow and buy him a new one… or let’s say it’s even more severe- the man can’t find his wallet… the woman can joke around and give the man some confidence and bring humor into the situation by saying, “it’s all good- you will cancel all your credit cards, so this means that I can’t shop and we can’t go for dinner unless I pay, which btw, I am more than happy to do!” (she said that with true sincerity- no joke!)
So then the man feels like the pressure is taken off of him and they can go on with their expected weekend, except they will be dining at McDonalds instead of the steak house that they were supposed to go.
I hope that what you get out of this message, is that when two people love each other, there NEEDS to be a sense of not taking things too seriously AND understanding how each gender 100% is geared to communicate in different ways. As long as the couple has passion, compassion, fun, an easy-going attitude, a sense of major connection, and most importantly LOVE, then as long as they can communicate in a non-confrontational way, they will succeed and have a life-long wonderful relationship filled with lots of laughter, love and peace : )
Author: Jamie Bronstien
Link to the author’s site: www.Jaimebronstein.com
Last week, my wife and I were vacationing in South America and due to our adventurous spirits, we found ourselves in an anxiety producing situation one day. It started when we decided to head out to a village in the mountains that we had read about in National Geographic where a school was located that taught local women the trade of weaving, using local Alpaca wool. We hopped in the first taxi that stopped because he nodded when we mentioned the name of the village and he quoted us a very reasonable price. However, we quickly realized that the limited amount of Spanish that my wife speaks was no help in communicating with our driver because he spoke zero English and his Spanish was heavily influenced with a local dialect. What this meant for us was that there was no way to confirm understanding of what either party was communicating. However, this did not stop attempts at dialogue from continually being made. There were lots of head nods, “yeses” and “síes” but no one knew if the other understood. This frustration was exacerbated after twice the amount of time passed that our hotel said it would take to reach the village and we were still winding through the mountains.
As I was observing attempts at communication by both parties, I thought about what happens in the hectic corporate world that many of us spend 1/3rd of our lives in….and that I was currently enjoying being “unplugged” from. I realized that thankfully, time or personal agenda constraints can be easier to overcome than language barriers when it comes to checking for and confirming understanding of what is communicated. I am not saying that it is “easy” to do this at work, but if we neglect to confirm understanding, either by the sender or receiver of the communication, not only do we risk accomplishing nothing, but we also risk undesired impacts or outcomes…like potentially being lost in the mountains of the southern hemisphere, or worse!
As I was analyzing the situation, I was reminded of the Transactional Model of Communication (see below).
(the above picture is from the National Communication Association )
As this model shows, messages are defined by the meaning the recipient adds to them when decoding what has been communicated by the sender. This points to the need to make the extra effort to validate or check for understanding of what is being communicated in all aspects of our daily lives. Of course, with the limited time in our schedules, brevity is of paramount importance…so remember to choose your words wisely to reduce the time needed for validation!
I quickly snapped back to reality as our taxi came to a stop directly in front of the school we saw in National Geographic. While I was grateful for the opportunity this experience gave me to reflect on Transactional Communication, I was even more delighted that somehow in this situation, the illusion Shaw spoke of in communication actually turned out to be reality…though if asked to explain how, I wouldn’t know how to answer!
QUESTION: What have you found to help or hinder clarifying/validating understanding in communication? Let us know be leaving a “reply” below.
Written by Jonathan Eisler, Director of Organizational Services.
Right after Abraham Lincoln finished the famous Gettysburg Address, Edward Everette told the president “I wish that I could flatter myself that I had come as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.” Who was Edward Everette? He was the keynote speaker who opened for Lincoln at Gettysburg with a two hour oration that was praised throughout the nation’s newspapers. Praised? Sure. Remembered? Not so much.
While a standing ovation may be nice every once in awhile, as managers, we should care more about our words being remembered and the impact they have than about the praise they may initially receive. To be remembered and taken to heart, brevity is key.
Everette and Lincoln were both speaking to one central idea, and as managers, we all share a few overreaching goals. Our goals should include enabling engaged, innovative, collaborative, productive and high-performing teams who respect us and our approach to leadership. Attainment of these goals is largely dependent on the words we use and the situations in which we use them.
When speaking with your employees, remember the power of brevity in the…..
- 5 most important words: You did an awesome job!
- 4 most important words: What are your thoughts?
- 3 most important words: I was wrong.
- 2 most important words: Thank you.
- 1 most important word: We.
As I re-read the above list, I am reminded of the power of using these phrases in any situation where we hope to have a positive impact on others….and for me, that means almost all of my communications!
As Thomas Jefferson once said, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” So choose wisely!
Written by Jonathan Eisler, Director of Organizational Services, and inspired by numerous publications, countless interactions and his desire to have a positive impact on others.
What do these dollar figures have in common? They are all dollar amounts awarded to employees by their former employers for violating the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) . These are only a few of the settlement figures since the FMLA has gone into effect and the numbers are increasing yearly. According to the Families and Work Institute, 18% of large employers and 21% of small employers are out of compliance with the FMLA.
What three steps can employers do now to ensure that they are not a defendant in an upcoming FMLA lawsuit?
1. Put information about employee FMLA rights and duties in writing, include it in your employee handbook and also distribute a written copy of the FMLA notice to all new employees.
2. Make sure all managers and supervisors are applying the company’s FMLA processes consistently. The more locations an employer has, the more likely they will be in violation of the FMLA. Comprehensive training for managers and supervisors regarding FMLA policies and procedures is a crucial and an often overlooked step in successfully administering the requirements of the FMLA.
3. Verify that all eligible employees are receiving their allowable 12-workweeks of FMLA Leave per year. This means checking that exempt employees’ hours are being tracked to define their “usual workweek”, validating that the 12-month period for the leave year is being applied accurately with the appropriate documentation attached to the leaves, and making sure that the company does not have any joint employees that are not being offered FMLA protection.
These are only a few of the many steps that an employer should be taking to assure compliance with the FMLA. Unless a company is 100% confident they are in FMLA compliance, retaining outside FMLA expertise to help with FMLA leave policies, training and procedures is recommended as a first step for peace of mind. FMLA is a very complex leave to administer correctly and one misstep could have costly financial implications for a company as well as the effect of decreasing employee morale.
Author: Wade Lindgren
*To learn more about how organizations are using FMLA, how they feel about it and what changes the government recently made to the FMLA, check out “FMLA: Perceptions, Utilization and Changes.”