Author Archives: Alex Moutal

Two Prestigious 2017 Survey Software Awards Now Belong to EPIC

Expert recognition is the key factor and logical precursor of the success of every developing system, and often the decisive criteria for busy business owners when deciding which product is cut for their needs. Here at EPIC, we like to think of our system is an ever-developing product, where both expert opinion and customer satisfaction produce vital cues on how service can be further improved.

This is why we are so happy to announce that EPIC is now featured on one of the currently most popular B2B software directories FinancesOnline.com, where it got an admirable expert score, and it won two popular awards: The Great User Experience Award and the 2017 Rising Star Award for top survey software.

The experienced B2B professionals observe closely the features of each app appearing in their directory, and evaluate its capacity to meet specific business needs and expectations. In the case of EPIC, they concluded users get just the intuitive and friendly working environment needed to simplify employee feedback collection, and a suite packed with advanced features offered at a reasonable price. EPIC was also listed among the leading survey software systems recommended by FinancesOnlne’s experts.

According to the experts, EPIC brings together all features needed to improve the employee-employer relationship, increase productivity, and enhance worker-customer engagement. They were particularly pleased with our easy micro surveys that take less than five minutes to accomplish, and can be administered independently and on a weekly basis. What this means is that EPIC, unlike traditional survey software, is useful to every department, and perfectly able to help companies receive honest feedback, and eliminate bottlenecks that affect the productivity of their teams.

Schedule a demo with us today and see for yourself why FinancesOnline gave us such a glowing review!

The Ups and Downs of Romance in the Workplace

Romance in the Workplace

Our careers are important for us as we aspire to work hard to get promotions and noticed for our hard-work and our ideas. Some of us work long hours at work, and this leaves little time for us to go out into the dating scene.

In the office, you are dealing with people consistently among your colleagues or customers. As a result, it is just normal to see people showing interest in one another as you get to know each other closer as you work with each other all day.

Romance at work is not necessarily a bad thing as no one can prevent people from falling in love with another as even the law respects such a right. They say that love knows no boundaries. However, this might not be the case at work as there are specific workplace regulations and there could be possible dangers.

Today, we will go further into romance in the workplace in depth to give you the bigger picture. Let’s get started!

 

The Dangers and Pitfalls of Romantic Relationships at Work

When it comes to romance, we don’t know when and where we might fall in love with someone. In fact, with the introduction of longer hours, the office has become the most natural place to find a partner.

Sociologist Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D of the University of Washington states, “There was a time when men and women were linked economically as well as for emotional survival. Now we think of couples as just emotional units. But before that, they were a survival unit. Well, the world has taken another rotation, and we’re back to being economic partners-by preference as well as necessity.”

Sometimes, many people consider the workplace as the best place to look for their partner for life. In the workplace, you can be assured that the person whom you might fall in love with has the same interest and passion. Moreover, he or she might also be looking for a person just like you.

It seems that the workplace is a perfect place to get into a serious relationship. However, there is always a danger in every opportunity. It is true that the workplace offers more advantages for possible romantic relationships with someone, but there pitfalls in such situations.

At work, you are expected to accomplish specific tasks. Most companies are aware that romantic relationships among their employees can have both a negative impact on their productivity and profitability.

When one employee falls in love with a colleague, there is a tendency that the person in love would focus on this person at the expense of their work. Although many couples who are into such a relationship insist they get more inspired to work, the reality speaks differently.

Both men and women should really question if it’s truly worth putting their career on the line if something goes wrong. HR should help their employees go over these nine questions from Psychology Today to make sure they’re on the right track.

Many companies recognize such risks. This is the reason why most of them do not allow their employees to be in such a relationship, especially if they work in the same department.

Consequently, employees who are caught being in romantic relationship with co-workers in the same department might be re-assigned in another department. If there is no vacancy in another department, the company has the right to ask someone from the couple to resign from the job.

 

How to Deal with Co-Workers Dating Each Other

If you are assigned to the human resources department, you might be asked to evaluate and manage employee relationships to boost the productivity of the company as a whole. The challenge is when you need to address certain issues that employees are violating the company policies.
What if the policies they violate are theoretical and not legal? For example, a company has a policy to separate two workers having romantic relationship by assigning one of them to another department. The problem is when their relationship is a secret relationship, which may have been revealed by rumors. This needs to be investigated thoroughly as there is a chance, the party in question will deny any allegations.
Another case is when two workers are already dating each other, but they perform their job well, and their relationship doesn’t affect their work. However, you know there is a policy that you need to enforce or implement.

To deal with this matter, you will have to take note and document everything, so you know your scope and limitation. You don’t need to go beyond certain boundaries by trying to meddle with co-workers that are in romantic relationship. You can submit such documents and reports to your immediate supervisor.

What if your supervisor has such a relationship with his or her subordinate? This is perhaps the most difficult situation you might face as an HR professional. If this is the case, you can directly talk to your supervisor’s immediate superior. Just make it clear that you have no intention to bypass your supervisor’s authority, and all you need to do is accomplish your work.

The best way to deal with this situation is to release a circular or memo to warn all employees and supervisors to refrain from explicitly having a relationship with a co-worker within one division. You can do it if this is one of your tasks as an HR worker. However, if your task is only to evaluate employees, all you have to do is to make an honest evaluation or assessment without any bias.

 

When Is It OK to Date a Co-Worker?

It seems that dating a co-worker is prohibited in many companies and for good reasons. What makes a relationship bad is when the work of the employee who is in a romantic relationship with co-workers gets compromised. The worst scenario is when such couples are also affecting the work of other employees.

According to HR Daily Advisor, “in most states, an employer can enact a policy that prohibits employees form dating one another.” These policies however, may dependent on your state and local laws.

On the other hand, there are also many reasons dating a co-worker would be acceptable, if it was allowed by an employer. One worker can date another outside work, which means they won’t have any problems if these dates happen off company grounds.

Try to imagine some actors and actresses who become lovers because they work together on a certain project. They are considered co-workers, but when you watch their films, what you can see is everything that the director wants you to see. They have also been able to finish such projects because they do exactly what they are expected to do.

On the contrary, they are not hesitant to let the public know about their romantic relationships. This scenario is one of the best examples of dating a co-worker. At work, all employees are like actors and actresses who need to perform certain duties regardless of their personal affairs as long as such personal affairs do not intervene in the workplace.

One can date a co-worker by simply remaining professional. It is also possible to let other co-workers know about the presence of such a relationship. Although these workers may be included on a watch list, the relationship may still remain on the watch list without any further actions from the company if such a couple remains professional.

 

Legal Risks

There are several legal risks not only for a worker who is dating a co-worker but also for employers. There are times that employers are also going beyond what is legal. The problem is that every state has different laws on the matter of workplace dating. Moreover, every company has different policies.

What is only certain is that the court acknowledges the policies of a company that are signed by its employees in the hiring process. If a company bans any romantic relationship based on its policy and is signed by its employees, the company has all the right to implement such a policy but with the due process.

On the other hand, workers may sue their company when the policy is misleading. Words like “dating,” “relationship,” and “romance” are difficult to specify as legal terms since they can be subjective. This is why it is also very important for every company to include such definitions of terms in their employee’s contract.

Companies may face certain legal risks in implementing a policy of discouraging romantic relationship at work. This is because workers are protected by civil rights laws. Therefore, all company policies must be specific and fair based upon state laws.

The problem is when a worker who is terminated is of a different race. The case may become the issue of racial discrimination. In addition, workers who are being sanctioned may file a case against their companies on the issue of privacy. Relationships can also be a private matter, so this is also a sensitive issue which every company must carefully deal with.

 


Horror Stories

There have also been many horror stories that happen because of romantic relationships at work. The reason for this is because relationships may not work in the long run. Sometimes, it leads to violent breakups at work, property damage, depression, and even suicides. The scary thing is that not all people are the same. Some people may take such breakups lightly while others may take it very hard.

If this happens in your workplace, it will have a negative impact on the daily operation of your company. This is what many employers are avoiding and keep workplace dating a no-no in their company policy.

There are also stories of murder at work because of jealousy. Although you may not hear such news all the time, other similar cases must have happened without having been sensationalized for privacy purposes.

One thing is for sure; relationships with a co-worker do not always become successful. In many cases, relationships of this sort end up in disaster. However, nobody knows whether or not a relationship will work as much as it is difficult to know if such relationship eventually became a horror story.

 

Successful Relationships

If there are horror stories that happen out of dating a co-worker, there are also success stories. Actually, there are a lot of success stories that started at work. This is evident in the profession of every family you may encounter along the way. There are many families of consisting of the same profession, whether they are doctors, lawyers, artists, photographers, or business professionals and they all work in the same office or company.

This is the reason why many young people have developed a mindset of finding a perfect partner at work. When they start working after graduating from college, they start thinking of building their own family. They believe that their work can bring all the things they dream of including a wife or a husband.

Most of them have found a perfect relationship at work, and their relationship ended up with them getting married. As a matter of fact, there have been many cases that two co-workers who have got married having invited their colleagues and their superiors in their wedding.

Companies typically stay out of individual’s private affairs. Businesses focus on their products and services and teamwork within their companies to get this accomplished.

 

What to Do When You Fall in Love with Your Co-Worker?

When you fall in love with a co-worker, the most important ideal is to keep your feelings to yourself. You should be focused on the work at hand and your daily tasks that need to done. It’s fine to have lunch with one another if that opportunity arises, but again all emotions should be kept at home and not shown at work.

And if you are already in a romantic relationship, all you have to do is to talk to your special someone about certain issues at work. It is best if you agree on what both of you should behave in the workplace. You can also ask for legal advice to know your rights and obligations depending on your state laws.

When you fall in love with a co-worker, you won’t need to be in constant communication. You shouldn’t use the company resources for your personal relationship. All you have to do is to do your job, and spend the rest of the time together after work.

 

How to Deal with a Breakup at Work

Breakups are one of the hardest things to deal with, especially if you are the one directly involved in such breakup. When you’re down, the tendency is that you can’t focus on the important tasks at hand. However, filing a leave of absence is not the solution. In fact, it may augment your agony because there are fewer things than can make you forget your feelings.

Focusing on your work will help to take away the feelings you felt. After a while, you will become more productive than ever. It is just normal to become down or depressed, but life must go on, so you have to prove you are not the loser in this situation. Make your work your inspiration!

Never talk in a negative manner to other co-workers about what happened between you and that person as it’s nobody’s business, and you don’t want to add gossip to those busy-bodies around the office. When you do talk about these issues, you appear as an untrustworthy employee.

Treat that person with respect even though you don’t want to. Don’t shoot glares at them, and don’t appear to look angry. Other employees will pick up on this negative behavior, and it won’t be beneficial for you with other employees. They may see you as a negative person and leave you out of any future outings that you may have participated in with them before.

Look at the pros and cons of this dating experience and think carefully about whether you want to go through this experience at work again. You lived it and you learned from it, now it’s time to move on!

 

How to Deal with Awkwardness

Chiara Atik author of Modern Dating: A Field Guide states, “It can be extremely awkward to work with someone after a breakup. You’re going from being the most important people in each other’s lives to being mere co-workers again. Most people want to avoid their exes at all costs after a breakup, but if you work together, you’re forced to not only see each other every day, but interact. There’s no pretending they never existed; and depending on your office environment, you may even be somewhat privy to their post-breakup dating life. It’s not so much the end of a romantic relationship as it is a transition into a more distant, professional one. Your ex is still a part of your everyday life, and rewiring how you think of them and how you communicate with each other is challenging.”

Awkwardness actually happens only in the mind and not in the workplace. It is your paradigm that tells you are in awkward situation. You have to remind yourself that life goes on and there are tips out there to help you bounce back from your office breakup.

 

Why Romance Is Sometimes Inevitable and How to Protect Yourself and the Company

In the workplace, romance sometimes is inevitable. This is because you are socially exposed every day as you interact with people, and you see them every day. If two people are attracted to one another, the more you get closer you will become to each other. As a result, you can’t help entering a romantic relationship at work.

Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with it. The important thing is that you still do your job, and such a relationship doesn’t cause any trouble at work. The only problem is when your employer does not interpret such a relationship the way you see it.

If this is the case, it is recommended you seek legal advice. You can also communicate with your employer and clarify everything. In this way, you can protect yourself and the company as well.

 

Conclusion

Romance at work sometimes can’t be avoided; however, keep in mind that the term human resources still has the word “human.” This means that every company should expect and allow their employees to act as human beings with discretion.

Of course, everything has a limit. A workplace is still a workplace and not a dating place. Employee relationships must remain professional, especially in the office. Therefore, the boundary between love and work must be managed properly within the appropriate boundaries.

Interpersonal relationships, even those that are not romantic in nature can be very complicated. Romance in the workplace can add to the stress of a team and can put in jeopardy the workplace climate of an organization.

 

Having a system in place that allows peer-to-peer feedback about this and many other aspects of your company can really help improve their engagement, happiness, productivity, loyalty and overall employee experience.

If you’d like to find out more about how EPIC By Clarity Wave can help your business, please click here to schedule a free demo.

P.S. By the way, we would love to welcome you to our LinkedIn Group, HR Today: Employee Engagement, Workplace Climate and Company Culture. We have lots of great content dedicated to employee engagement, the employee experience, and other fun and interesting topics.

How to Deal With a Bully in the Workplace

How to Deal With a Bully in the Workplace

When you think about bullying, thoughts of schoolyard bullying among children may come to mind. However, bullying is very real and unfortunately commonplace between adults as well. As an adult, you typically have greater options to walk away from bullying situations, but this is not always the case. For example, when you are bullied in the workplace, you may feel as though you need to endure the bullying for the sake of a paycheck.

What Is Bullying?

Bullying is defined as someone aggressively dominating, intimidating or using physical force against another person to intimidate or to control. While physical violence in the workplace through bullying is rare, intimidation and verbal abuse are more commonplace than many would like to believe. Bear in mind that this is not a typical disagreement or workplace conflict between two people, and it generally is not isolated to a single instance. Instead, there is a series of incidents over the course of a long period of time where the bully uses threats or intimidation against the victim. Bullying at work can create a toxic workplace environment for you to spend time in. You may find that you dread going into work each day, and your quality of work may even suffer as a result. When this happens, your career opportunities may be limited by the bullying situation. Clearly, you want to take action to improve your workplace climate.

When Bullying Is Done Secretively

A bully often will intimidate or control a victim in the workplace in a covert way so that he flies under the radar of upper management. Typically, a bully needs leverage to intimidate or otherwise be forceful with a victim, but some victims give their bully power even without any leverage in place. If you feel that you are being bullied in your workplace, consider what leverage your bully has over you. Is there a threat that he or she will expose wrongdoing on your part? Does your bully have something else to hang over your head? If there is no leverage, consider simply ignoring the bully. If there is leverage, consider documenting the bully’s words and actions as much as possible to build a case against him or her. This may include saving emails or even secretly recording conversations between you and the bully. This documentation can then be provided to your HR department or manager for further investigation.

When Bullying Is Openly Accepted in the Workplace

While many offices do not tolerate bullying in any form, others may openly accept it. This may be because the manager is the bully or because management does not want to deal with the problem. In some cases, management may not view bullying as a problem. An example of bullying at work in the open is when one or more people intentionally make a workplace meeting hostile through their use of threats and intimidation. This is often done while management is present, and management’s failure to act on the problem essentially serves as permission for the bully to continue his or her actions. This type of bullying can be difficult to combat because it often involves opening your manager’s eyes to the fact that the bully’s actions are creating a toxic workplace environment. In some cases, the victim has no choice but to leave the environment and seek employment elsewhere.

When Your Boss Is the Bully

While some bullies at work may be your equals on the corporate totem pole, others may be your boss or a higher up. An example of this type of bullying may be when a boss tells workers that they need to work over the weekend even when this is not included as part of their regular work responsibilities or they will be fired. The threat of termination or a dock in pay is common in this type of situation because this is the primary leverage that a boss has over the heads of employees. Keep in mind that termination is always a legitimate option when you fail to get your job done in a satisfactory way, so ensure that your boss is truly bullying you rather than standing his ground as your manager before you take action.

What You Can Do

When it comes to dealing with bullies at the office, you have a few choices available. Perhaps the cleanest way out of the situation is to leave the environment. Find a new job elsewhere, and start clean in a less toxic workplace. Leaving the workplace, however, is not always feasible. For example, you may need the income or the benefits, and you may have had no luck finding employment elsewhere despite your best efforts. If you are dealing with this type of situation, your only options are to deal with the bully. You can choose to confront the bully head on or to take your case to the manager.

Identify How You May be Enabling the Bully

When your bully is a co-worker rather than a boss, the victim typically is enabling the behavior in some way. This by no means that you are to blame for being a victim, but it does give you some power to stop the bullying process. Take a closer look at the relationship between you and the bully, and consider what you may be doing to give power to the bully. In some cases, this can be difficult for the victim to identify because of how close you are to the situation. If you are unable to identify how you may be enabling the bully, consider seeking professional therapy or even taking to an unbiased friend about the situation. Talking about the problem may give you the clarity that comes from a third party’s perspective. When you have identified how you may be enabling the bully, you can then take action to adjust your behavior and to stop the enabling process.

Research the Complaint Procedures in Your Workplace

In many instances, the victim is able to stop the bully in his tracks by disrupting the nature of the relationship between the victim and the bully. However, if you have tried this option and have not been successful in this step, your next step is to take the matter to your HR department or your manager. Read through your employee handbook to determine if there is currently a company policy about bullying. Confirm that your situation complies with the company’s definition of bullying in the handbook. Whether your company has an anti-bullying policy or not, there is a good chance that the company does have specific complaint procedures. This may include the need to verify the validity of your complaint with documentation, who to contact initially to file a complaint and when to escalate the matter to upper management.

Have an Open Conversation with Your Manager

Filing a formal complaint with HR or your manager is one option to consider, but you may want to keep the matter more close at hand. After all, the matter may be able to be resolved quietly without making a big fuss about it. If this is your intention, having a quiet conversation with your manager may be effective. Consider taking your manager to lunch one afternoon to discuss your concerns in a private environment. If this is not possible, schedule a meeting with your manager. Keep in mind that this meeting may take an hour or longer in some cases. You should not surprise or ambush your manager with an unannounced or unscheduled meeting. When you schedule a meeting, you will have dedicated time to fully discuss the matter without interruptions.

Provide Documentation

Whether you file a formal complaint with your HR department or you choose to handle the matter more quietly, you will need to document your grievances. It can take several weeks or longer to pull together enough evidence against your bully to make a strong case, so be patient as you take time to gather the evidence you need. Most of your evidence may be in writing, such as in emails and inter-office chat logs. If the bullying is done verbally, however, you may need to take more significant steps to get documentation. For example, you may need to invest in equipment to secretly record video, audio or both of the bully in action. This can be expensive, so you may want to ensure that combating the bully rather than leaving the workplace is truly in your best interest.

Suggest an Anti-Bullying Campaign at Work

Many workplaces have adopted anti-bullying efforts, but your office may not be one of them. This may include special training to identify, respond to or prevent bullying at work. Training may help you, your co-workers and your managers to better determine if a specific action can be considered bullying. Policies for reprimanding bullying may be implemented as well. Keep in mind that these policies are critical to having an effective anti-bullying campaign. After all, without proper and stringent consequences that bullies may face, their efforts against you may continue.

Remember That Workplace Bullying Is Not Illegal (In Most Cases)

Bullying among children is illegal in many areas, but unfortunately, bullying in the workplace is not illegal in most cases. It may be against company policy if your company has included verbiage about it in your handbook. However, simply being aggressive or threatening to take certain actions against another party is not illegal, unless there is a threat of physical violence. The other exception here is when a manager is the bully and he has violated labor laws as a result of his actions. This may be more similar to discrimination in the workplace. If your workplace climate is unpleasant because of bullying and if you feel your boss as crossed a legal line, you can reach out to a labor attorney to explore your options. In some cases, a criminal or civil lawsuit may be in order.

If You Choose to Leave the Workplace

In an ideal world, you may confront your bully, and he or she may either be asked to leave or be terminated. However, in a real world work environment, HR must also take certain steps before legally firing an employee, and this means that you may need to endure weeks or months of bullying before you benefit from any relief from the situation. The easier route when dealing with bullies at work is to find a new job in a company where bullying is not permitted. It can take several weeks or longer to find a new job, but your time and effort spent on this task may be well-rewarded. If you decide to look for a new job, you can get started doing this today, but keep your quest to find a new position hidden from others in your workplace.

If you are unhappy with your workplace climate because of bullies at the office, you may feel generally unhappy with life. This is because discontentment in one area of your life can easily carry over into other areas. While you may be miserable at work, you may also find that you are unhappy at home and with family and friends as a result. Clearly, something needs to be done about bullying at your office. There is no single best way for all workers to handle bullying. Instead, take time to analyze your situation and to determine a thoughtful plan for how to best proceed.

Having a system in place that allows your staff to give you feedback about this and many other aspects of your company can really help improve their engagement, happiness, productivity and loyalty.

If you’d like to find out more about how EPIC By Clarity Wave can help your business, please click here to schedule a free demo.

Email Mistakes that Can Cost You Dearly

Email Mistakes that Can Cost You Dearly

Email Mistakes that Can Cost You Dearly

Email is an amazing tool that can allow you to communicate effortlessly in seconds. Like any other tool, however, it can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Employees that use email are cautioned to be aware of how they use this method of communication to avoid making terrible errors that can cost them dearly. Understanding email etiquette and avoiding email faux pas is key to a healthy work relationship.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-8-53-07-pmSending Prematurely

Slow down a bit before you hit the trigger on that “send” button. Perhaps you should re-read the email to check for any spelling errors. Maybe you have not included complete information and you need to review your message before sending it on its way. Maybe you forgot to “cc” someone on the email who should be included in the string.

Before you hit “send,” take a look at what you have written and determine if it is indeed the message you want to convey. Even more embarrassing is sending a half written note that makes it obvious that you weren’t finished composing it.

 

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-8-49-47-pmNot Paying Attention to Your Tone

One of the major elements that is lost on email is context. When you are speaking to someone face to face, you can use facial expressions and gestures to show your intent. Not so with email. Your words have to accurately affect your tone so that the receiver understands the message. Using the wrong tone in an email can jeopardize your work relationships and cause friction in your office. Consider the two messages below and the different tones they take:

“Hi Julie, is it possible that you can send the files today? Thanks, Kelly

“Julie, I need the files by the end of the day. Kelly.”

One conveys a more collaborative tone, suggesting that the sender is in a cordial state of mind. She asks for the same items with the same urgency, yet there is a friendly, almost conciliatory tone. In the second email, the message offers no pleasantries, is curt and straight to the point. Both convey the same instruction, but there is a huge difference in how these two messages come across to the receiver.

At the same token, beware of using ALL CAPS or exclamation points. ALL CAPS signifies that you are yelling at the receiver, so beware of using this in your email communication. Exclamation points can have the same effect, making it appear that you are shouting or being overly enthusiastic. Using ALL CAPS is a major breach of email etiquette, so avoid it at all costs.

 

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-8-51-03-pmBeware of “Reply All”

Sometimes you may receive an email that includes several members. It may be a company-wide email announcing the holiday office closing schedule that is sent to all 350 employees. Perhaps you have a quick question for the sender. Don’t hit “reply all” and send the message to everyone in the company. This can result in another employee replying to you using “reply all” and before you know it, one email has resulted in 250 emails that are clogging up everyone’s inboxes all day.

Consider what happened in the summer of 2016 at Thomson Reuters. One person sent a mass message that reached all 33,000 employees at the company. People started replying to the message by hitting “reply all,” and more users started responding by asking people not to hit “reply all.” Of course, they did this using “reply all,” which started an hours long saga that the resulted in each member of the organization getting more than 1,000 messages. The gaffe brought the workday to a grinding halt as more than 500 people responded begging everyone to stop responding.

Hitting “reply all” is a huge email faux pas that can cost your company dearly.

Pay Attention to the String

When you send an email and a colleague sends a response, all of the old messages are displayed below the new ones so that you can follow the conversation. Be aware of this string if you plan to include another person in the conversation. One real estate agent was thoroughly embarrassed when she forgot about this pesky email feature. She had been emailing a colleague back and forth about a client, and had made disparaging remarks about the client. She then forwarded the string to the client to deliver some information and the client discovered the communication. Needless to say, this did not end well.

Talking about your bad boss and how much you can’t wait for him to go on vacation is a bad idea to begin with, but it gets even worse when you accidentally send that message to him later. Be aware of exactly what you are sending.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-8-52-25-pmKeep Work Email Professional

Your employer can intercept your email at any time, so keep all of your emails professional. Your work email does not belong to you. Each time you send an email, imagine that it is being sent on your company’s letterhead. Don’t send personal messages through the company’s email server. Avoid making off-color or inappropriate jokes or sharing questionable pictures through your email. Many people have been fired for using their email in a way that was inappropriate, so keep your business communication professional.

At the same token, be cautious in your email with your fellow colleagues. Flirty messages or emails to set up dates to get together outside of work can get you into professional hot water. This also applies when you are working from home or with company equipment. If your employer gave you a smartphone or laptop to use, it belongs to the company, not to you. This means that your text messages, instant messenger and all email should be professional, regardless of where you are when you send it.

This is one of the most common email mistakes that people make, but it is the one that is most easily avoided.

Use “cc” and “bcc” Carefully

Using the carbon copy and the blind carbon copy is a way to send information to multiple people without alerting everyone that other people are copied on the message. When you “cc” someone, they know that they were not the original recipient, but that you meant to include them in the conversation. When you “bcc,” however, the original recipients do not know that another person is included in the message. The problem comes in when the original recipients attempt to continue the conversation. The person who got the bcc may chime in, alerting everyone that this person was secretly included.

Blind cc’ing and cc’ing in general can get you into hot water with your superiors and interpersonal conflicts with your co-workers. In some cases, people who were blind copied will wonder why they were not originally included. In other cases, they may feel conflicted about their access to confidential information—are they supposed to pretend they don’t know the information since the other recipients don’t know they were included?

Consider what would happen if you had a conflict with another team member and bcc’d your boss. The boss might then discipline the other team member, making the situation worse. While there are times when you should blind copy–an HR issue with a bad boss or serious situation—it pays to use this feature sparingly.

Change the Subject

Well, not actually. But it pays to pay attention to your subject lines. Many people use “URGENT” and “IMPORTANT” in their subject lines to get people to prioritize their message over all others. This is a tactic that should be used sparingly. Is the hot water going to be shut off to the entire building? The subject line that reads “Hot water will be shut off at noon,” conveys the same urgent message. If it is truly an emergency situation, use the phone.

Your subject line should be clear about the included message. The reader should be able to glance at their inbox and make their own decisions about which messages take priority. Subject lines should be clear and concise. Consider the following two subject lines:

“The meeting today”
or

“Agenda for 1:00 p.m. staff meeting.”

Writing clear subject lines shows respect for the other person’s time and is good business etiquette. Don’t force them to open the email only to find out the message is not what they thought.

 

attach-iconDon’t forget the attachment

Sending an email and forgetting the attachment is one of the most common email mistakes. Some people suggest adding in the receiver’s email address last so that you can be sure you have all of the elements of your message in place before you hit “send.” Having to send the message a second time with “oops, forgot the attachment,” is highly unprofessional.

When it comes to using email at work, it can be easy to step into a landmine. Whether it is sending personal messages or abusing the carbon copy or hitting “reply all,” too many times, using email the wrong way can be damaging. By following a few tips for business etiquette, you can avoid embarrassing snafus that can cost you at work.

Having good communication skills is one of the top attributes that make a good team member. A company that encourages and takes care of the way people communicate usually report a better workplace climate, mainly because team members have fewer  misunderstandings that can cause conflict among the teams.

If you’re not measuring how your staff perceives the two-way communication of, both your company and the people they work with, you’re missing out on some of the most powerful and easy to fix issues related to employee engagement.

Our software, EPIC by Clarity Wave measures in real-time how your personnel perceives different levels of communication within your company. Set up an appointment today to find out how EPIC can help your business.

Team Building Activities that Increase Employee Engagement

Team Building Activities that Increase Employee Engagement

In an effort to keep employees motivated, satisfied and productive, business leaders and psychologists have developed a variety of programs over the years. Each program had its own keywords and methods, but each was aimed at helping employers reduce turnover and improve profitability. Kaizen, manufacturing for continuous improvement, Maslow’s hierarchy and management by objectives are just a few of the tools and philosophies that have been used to help achieve business goals.

Results ranged from dismal failure to overwhelming success; no single program was right for every organization.

In recent years, a great deal of attention has been focused on the concepts of team building and employee engagement. Although some managers view these concepts as merely the latest “fads,” they are truly essential for any company wishing to improve retention, boost productivity and enhance employee morale.

Why Team Building Is Important

Rowing as a team

In most organizations, it is easy to identify the “star” employees. They are the ones to whom management turns when a project must be completed on a tight deadline, when accuracy is critical or when only the best, most creative work will do. These are the “rowers.” They are the ones who do the most to help the business progress. Employees who are not rowers are riders. Some riders are dead weight, but others are only a few steps behind the rowers.

Eventually, however, the rowers are going to tire of pulling the weight for the entire team. The riders are going to be dissatisfied as well and begin to feel that they are unappreciated or that management is playing favorites.

With an effective team, the system of rowers and riders disappears. Every team member participates in the success — or failure — of a project. Whether the goal is to improve productivity over time, meet an urgent deadline or encourage creativity, teams can produce outcomes that are greater than the sum of the individual employees.

What Team Building Can Accomplish

Team building exercises can produce a variety of results. The organization’s culture, size and goals can influence the outcome, but most organizations report six common results.

 

1. Employee morale is enhanced.

Instead of having only the star performers recognized, the entire team earns the praise it deserves. In turn, pressure on the stars is reduced, making them less prone to burn-out and lowering their stress levels.

 

2. Communication is improved.

Team building activities help improve business relationships by fostering a sense of camaraderie, and this encourages open communication between co-workers as well as between employees and members of the management staff.

 

3. Employees’ trust in management is enhanced.

Team building activities allow employees to see supervisors and managers as colleagues rather than authority figures.

 

4. Employees develop better problem-solving skills.

Every business will encounter issues occasionally. Some are minor, but others are full-blown crises. Team building exercises can enhance the ability of employees to think and act strategically and rationally. Instead of having to wait for specific instructions from a boss, employees can evaluate a situation and determine the appropriate course of action before a tiny issue escalates into a major problem.

 

5. Creativity is enhanced.

Sharing ideas, discussing possible solutions to issues and brainstorming ways to contribute to the organization’s success can inspire creativity. The result can be creative ways to improve customer service, streamline workflow, enhance the company’s public image or solve a common problem.

 

6. Employees become more motivated.

When employees believe that their opinions and ideas are valued by their employers, they become more confident. They feel freer to express themselves to management, offer suggestions or ask questions. In turn, they will be motivated to volunteer for extra duties, accept new challenges or embrace change.

 

The Importance of Employee Engagement

American businesses bear a heavy financial burden due to a lack of employee engagement. After including higher health care costs, absenteeism and workplace accidents, Gallup estimates the total is between $450 billion and $550 billion annually, according to its report, “State of the American Workplace”. The study found that a mere 30 percent of the full-time workers in America were actively engaged at work, while 20 percent were actively disengaged. The remaining 50 percent were neither actively engaged nor actively disengaged; they were present, but they were not motivated to excel at their jobs or care about the fate of their organizations.

The 30 percent of employees who are actively engaged at work are contributing to their employers’ profitability in a variety of ways.

1. Employees who are actively engaged are more productive. Engaged employees tend to work harder because they feel that what they do has value. They feel a connection to their employer and realize that they are helping the company succeed. The Gallup study found that engaged employees could boost a corporation’s productivity performance by as much as 200 percent over a similar corporation with disengaged employees.
2. Engaged employees are easier to retain. Employee turnover costs American businesses almost $11 billion annually. When employees are engaged, they feel appreciated, strengthening their bond with the company. This makes them less likely to seek other opportunities.
3. While disengaged employees often smear a company’s reputation via social media or word-of-mouth, engaged employees present a positive image of the company. Engaged employees can be a valuable asset, offering the kind of brand advocacy that cannot be purchased. Disengaged employees can influence potential customers, resulting in reduced revenue.

 

Additional benefits that employers reap from employee engagement are not monetary. However, although it is impossible to assign a dollar value to these benefits, their importance should not be discounted.

1. Engaged employees tend to be more creative.

They enjoy finding new ways to complete projects or tasks, and they are constantly looking for innovative ways to contribute to the company’s success. Disengaged employees will rarely offer innovative ideas or develop new solutions.

 

2. Engaged employees tend to be better communicators.

Whether the conversation involves customers, co-workers or supervisors, engaged employees communicate more effectively. Disengaged employees typically hold conversation to a minimum, which does little to nurture customer relationships or contribute to a productive brainstorming session.

 

3. Engaged employees tend to be happier.

No one enjoys working with someone who is constantly complaining about their employer or their job duties. Engaged employees are typically cheerful employees who enjoy reporting for work every day, and they can brighten the workplace with their positive attitude and optimism.

 

Creating a Strategy to Increase Employee Engagement Through Team Building Activities

According to a study conducted by Accor Services, 90 percent of the organizations surveyed reported believing that employee engagement had a significant impact on the success of the business, but only 25 percent had a strategy or plan to bolster engagement. Without an effective strategy, increasing employee engagement is virtually impossible.

Vision of the company1. Regardless of the goal, developing an effective strategy requires an understanding of the current situation. Employers need to know what their employees truly think about their immediate supervisors, their co-workers, upper management and the company as a whole. The employees who actually perform tasks are usually the best people to identify problems or offer constructive suggestions. However, employees are often reluctant to provide the very information that employers need most; they fear that there may be negative consequences. For example, some employees worry that they could be branded a malcontent or lose their employer’s respect. Many employers find that if they engage a third-party provider adept at conducting employee surveys to obtain the information, employees are more candid, especially when it comes to identifying issues within the company that are hampering productivity or negatively impacting customer relationships.

2. Determine the obstacles that are preventing employees from delivering quality work. Perhaps employees lack the necessary tools, fail to see the importance of their work, do not have the proper skills, lack faith in management or are not obtaining a sense of personal satisfaction from the work that they do.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-11-44-44-am3. Create a mission statement that defines the company’s values and vision. When writing the statements, avoid popular clichés and goals that should be givens for every company, including terms such as customer-centric, problem-solving, innovative and teamwork. Look for terms that will inspire employees, engage their emotions and encourage them to rally around a common purpose.

4. Communicate the company’s mission, values and goals with employees. When Gallup conducted a survey that asked more than 3,000 workers whether they understood the company’s values, goals and strategies, only 40 percent responded that they did. Employees cannot meet expectations if they do not know what is expected of them, and they cannot know what is expected if those expectations are not communicated to them in a clear and unequivocal manner.

5. Plan a strategy that will be valid for many years to come. Although minor adjustments will no doubt be needed over time, an engagement strategy that changes constantly will leave employees confused or annoyed. Each announcement of a new program or opportunity will become less effective as employees become increasingly disinterested and skeptical.

6. Monitor progress through follow-up surveys. Simply putting an engagement strategy in place and leaving it on autopilot cannot achieve lasting improvement. Employers must know what is working and what is failing, and employees are the only true source of the information.

 

Recommended Team Building Activities to Foster Employee Engagement

Once an employer has identified the problems and created a strategy, it is time to launch an engagement initiative. There are many team building activities that can nurture employee engagement, and not every activity is ideal for every organization.

However, the following list provides some activities that have met with widespread success in a variety of industries and in companies of all sizes.

1.Potluck Lunches

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-11-53-48-amPotluck lunches are an inexpensive way to encourage employees to socialize. Participating employees can sign up to bring a dish that they prepared or purchased for everyone to share. Bringing food and people together in an informal setting has been a team-building mainstay for decades. Employees have the opportunity to communicate with each other in a relaxed environment, which fosters a sense of camaraderie and helps them build working relationships through the connections they make.

2.Retreats

RetreatRetreats can be an excellent way to help employees “recharge their batteries” by giving them time away from their routine. It makes employees feel appreciated, stimulates creativity and offers a neutral setting that can provide a fresh perspective on the issues. A retreat can be as brief as a single day or as long as a week. The object is to provide an environment that allows employees to have fun and socialize while they build skills, brainstorm solutions or strengthen relationships with colleagues with whom they may typically have little direct interaction.

3.Book Clubs

Book ClubEstablish a book club. Most of the time, the company selects and purchases books for employees who join the club to read. The topics can be as varied as reducing stress, becoming a more confident public speaker, balancing work and family time, charting a career path, understanding new technology or resolving conflicts in the workplace. Club members typically meet once a week to discuss one or two chapters and share their interpretations of how the material can be applied to their current job or situation. Because participation is voluntary, employees tend to be more enthusiastic about learning how to improve both their personal and professional lives.

4.Shadowing a Colleague

Shadowing a colleagueOffer opportunities for employees to shadow colleagues in other departments or with different duties. Employees are often curious about what others do and what functions they fulfill. Allowing an employee to shadow another for the day costs nothing but the time of the two employees involved, but it can foster interdepartmental cooperation while giving employees the opportunity to explore different career paths.

5.Sponsor a Charitable Organization

CharitySponsor employee participation in challenges and events that benefit a charitable organization. For example, the company could pay the employees’ registration fees for a walk or run to raise funds for research on a specific disease and provide the employees with matching shirts sporting the company’s logo. Alternatively, employers could offer employees the opportunity to spend a workday as a volunteer. Many companies have found that sponsoring a team to participate in a building or restoration project to improve the quality of life for a needy family breaks down walls between employees, provides employees with a shared experience that nurtures working relationships and demonstrates the company’s commitment to giving back to the community.

6.Hobby Clubs

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-11-58-15-amSponsor hobby clubs for employees. Employers allow the clubs to meet after or before work or on weekends in a space provided by the company. The company can provide occasional funds if it desires. Employees with similar interests have an opportunity to meet with others who share those interests. Many times, club members are from different departments, have different tenure or have very different job responsibilities, so members have the opportunity to establish relationships with people that they might never have come to know otherwise. Building connections through shared interests fosters a sense of camaraderie that can prove valuable for enhancing cooperation between departments.

7.Lunch n’ Learns

LunchSchedule “lunch and learns.” The employees furnish their own lunches, and the company arranges for an employee or outside speaker to host an interactive session regarding a particular experience, career or skill. Like hobby clubs, lunch and learns can bring a diverse group together who share an interest in the specific topic.

8.Awards

AwardsOffer meaningful awards to recognize the personal and professional achievements of individual employees as well as teams. Recognize an employee who recently completed his or her degree with a special ceremony or luncheon. When a team meets an important deadline, recognize the entire team rather than the just the team leader or department manager. Remember to recognize teams for the work they do outside of the office; if they participate in a charity run, routinely volunteer in the community or spend their weekends training service dogs, publicize the information. No matter how modest individuals may be, everyone enjoys a moment of praise for their teams.

9.Involve the Families

FamiliesAlthough most team building exercises involve only the employees, companies should include activities for the employees’ families as well. Sponsor a beginning cooking class for the children of employees or a class on cheese making for employees and their significant others. During football season, host tailgate parties in the company’s parking lot on game day. Sponsor a class on carving pumpkins in the fall or invite employees and their families to watch a special sporting event on a big-screen TV in the company auditorium. Including the families facilitates the development of extended bonds among spouses and children of employees that can enhance the loyalty that employees feel for their employers.

10.Fun Activities

Make teamwork fun to encourage widespread participation. Fun activities are limited only by the imagination of management, but here are a few suggestions.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-03-33-pmDepartmental softball teams have been a long-time staple for giving employees an opportunity for a little friendly competition. Take the concept and apply it to more unusual competitions. Sponsor a competition in which teams compete at marbles or charades. Let teams compete for the highest combined score on a video game or the lowest combined score on a round of indoor golf.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-03-56-pm• Find brainteasers or puzzles, assign employees to teams and give each team member a clue that is only meaningful when combined with the other clues. Let each team meet in private to find the solution and offer a small reward to all teams discovering the correct answer within the allotted time.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-04-31-pm• Host a creativity contest. Place an assortment of unusual items such as stones, glitter, tongue depressors and sponges in a paper bag along with some glue and give a bag to each team. The team’s challenge is to create something using only the items contained in the bag. At the end of the day, a panel of judges will decide which project displays the most creativity.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-04-56-pm• Stimulate employees’ minds while fostering collaboration by playing “guess who it is.” Collect childhood photos from current employees and give each team a set of photos to identify, with the winning team determined by the greatest number of correct guesses.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-05-42-pm• Sponsor a parade float competition. Teams are asked to design and build a miniature parade float of their own choosing, and an independent panel of judges decides on the winner in the different categories such as the float with the best construction or the one displaying the most creative design. Center the competition on a specific holiday and require that all floats have some connection to the holiday.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-06-08-pm• Host a talent show in which teams compete rather than individuals. The audience is typically the performers’ fellow employees but can be extended to include families or friends. Whether acting in a comedy skit, performing as a band, dancing or re-enacting a scene from a popular movie, the competitors can enjoy the show just as much as the audience.

11.Rummage Sale

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-06-36-pmHost a rummage sale in the company parking lot with all proceeds going to charity. The company furnishes the folding tables and publicizes the event. Employees donate items that they no longer need or want. Each team prepares its items for sale, arranges them on their table and handles the sales. At the end of the day, the team with the highest sales receives some type of recognition, even if it is just a certificate or a mention in the company newsletter. However, a tangible reward can encourage greater participation, so many companies offer the winning team gift certificates to a restaurant, store or movie theater.

12.Working Lunch

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-12-07-04-pmHost a working lunch. The company provides lunch and divides employees into groups of no more than 10 people. Each group is given a work-related issue or question to discuss. After picking up their lunches, each group adjourns to a private location to eat and discuss the topic. Responses can be written or verbal.

In the current economy, businesses ignoring the need to engage employees and encourage teamwork have a lot to lose. As this post has demonstrated, there are many team building activities that can foster employee engagement. Many of the exercises cost the employer little or nothing in terms of money, but the results can have a significant impact on the company’s bottom line.

Phone-caritasHow efficiently and closely a team performs is one of the many aspects of employee engagement that EPIC by Clarity Wave measures in its revolutionary system. Click here to schedule a demo today and see how we can help you develop stronger teams.

Positive Workplace

How to Be More Positive in Our Workplace

In general, happiness depends greatly on how we perceive life and what we focus our attention on.

 

You can easily be more positive at work

 

When we are the type of person who sees the glass half full, we are more likely to be happy, as opposed to when we perceive the glass as half empty. The filters or glasses we put on to look at life are one of the most important factors contributing to our emotional state.

That said, we can do conscious exercises that quickly help us change the mood we find ourselves in. We can create habits that will help us focus on gratitude and having a positive outlook in life, which, if perfected, is a task that will give us a life full of happy and fulfilling moments.

Below are some ideas of habits that are highly effective in generating a positive approach and therefore leading to greater gratitude and happiness in our daily lives:

 

1- Keep a notebook in which you write at least 3 things you are grateful for.

It has been proven that when people take the time out of their busy schedules to be appreciative and thankful for what they have, their level of happiness increases.

2- Take 10 conscious and deep breaths during the day.

Oxygenating the brain and doing conscious breathing helps relax the body and mind, leading to states of greater contemplation and joy.

3- Listen to your favorite tune or melody.

Indeed, music is a great tool to change your mood and has been proven to have therapeutic effects on the brain. Also, instrumental music without any lyrics is a great performance enhancer.

4- Recognize the great work of your colleagues.

Congratulating your coworkers helps create a positive and encouraging ambience for others to do the same with you. When we focus on what we do well, we tend to be happier than when we focus on our failures and those of others.

5- Take philanthropic action.

By feeling useful and meeting your needs to contribute to humanity, you´ll feel like a better human being. Doing volunteer work and being a good Samaritan is another great way to increase your level of happiness.

6- Smile more often.

Multiple studies show that people who smile more frequently often experience greater joy than the ones who only use a smile from time to time.

Just by practicing a few of these habits consistently, you will see your mood transforming into a more relaxed, positive and harmonious state.

When your focus is on the wonderful things out there in life, you will become more aware of the wonderful things that happen to you in your daily life and you will be able to admire the “small” big miracles of life more easily.

 

While it can’t play your favorite tune, EPIC, Employee Perceived Image of the Company® allows your team members to recognize their co-workers in a fun and engaging way. Click here to set up a demo with us today and find out how we are helping thousands of employees be more engaged in their companies.

What are the Real Costs of Employee Turnover

What Are the Real Costs of Employee Turnover?

In the current economy, some managers claim that they do not need to worry about retaining employees. They argue that workers should be happy to just have a job, and if any employee fails to appreciate all that the company is doing for them, he or she is welcome to leave. Managers assume that employees are not likely to quit a job that offers the security of a regular paycheck. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, that is not correct. The BLS report for June 2016 revealed that 2.9 million workers quit their jobs during the month, which was equivalent to 2 percent of the workforce. During the same period, there were only 1.6 million discharges and layoffs. (1) Obviously, not all employees are desperate to keep working at a job they do not enjoy or for a company to which they feel no loyalty. Employee turnover can have a serious impact on the health of an organization, but many managers are unaware of the actual costs that the company will pay to replace an employee.

 

What Are the True Costs of Turnover?

Some of the turnover costs can be easily quantified and tracked. Although indirect costs do not appear as a separate item on the income statement, they still affect the bottom line. Quantifiable costs include the expense of placing a classified ad or online job posting, headhunter fees, specialized formal training and relocation expenses for a new hire. Some companies pay the travel expenses for out-of-town candidates. It may also be possible to assign a dollar value to the time spent by the human resources department to sort through resumes and screen applicants.

“…it may be a year or more before the new hire’s productivity reaches the level of his or her predecessor”

The quantifiable costs are not insignificant, but they are only part of the true costs involved. A new hire will have to be onboarded and trained, so his or her productivity will be minimal initially. In addition, the employees assigned to complete these tasks will have their productivity reduced. Depending on the job, it may be a year or more before the new hire’s productivity reaches the level of his or her predecessor. Even in an entry-level job that requires little training, new hires are seldom as efficient as experienced workers. This is true whether the new hire is a restaurant worker, a receptionist, an accountant, a hotel housekeeper or a C-suite executive.

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-9-09-44-pmWhen an employee leaves, knowledge is lost. Perhaps the former employee had learned shortcuts that allowed greater efficiency in the completion of tasks. Perhaps he or she had acquired relevant information about certain clients or developed a special rapport with them.

Maybe he was the only employee who knew how to make the aging copier work properly, or maybe he had a unique filing system that is unfathomable.

Another consideration is what the departure of an employee can mean for the remaining staff. Until the vacancy is filled, someone is going to have to take up the slack. Exempt employees may object to having to put in extra hours, and even if they do not voice their feelings, the quality of their work may suffer. Some non-exempt employees may welcome the overtime pay, but others may be more interested in having their time free than in the money. Many employees will begin to feel stressed, overworked and unappreciated, which means that they are more likely to seek another job.

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-9-12-46-pmThere will also be tasks that fall through the cracks. Customers are not being engaged as they should, which could result in decreased sales. Filing backs up to the point that no one can easily find what they need. It may be impossible to meet the demand for service calls with the current staff. Potentially, a million small tasks could be neglected until they pile up into major problems.

 

The Mathematics of Employee Turnover

“Direct costs can be as much as 60 percent of the former employee’s annual salary”

When it comes to assigning a specific amount to turnover, the experts are not in agreement. However, the Society for Human Resource Management (2) has conducted extensive research on the subject. SHRM estimates that the direct costs can be as much as 60 percent of the former employee’s annual salary and that total costs can be as much as 200 percent. An average company loses 12 percent of its pre-tax income to turnover costs, according to the SHRM, and companies with excessively high turnover rates lose almost 40 percent.

The Center for American Progress, also known as CAP, provides different estimates. (3) CAP estimates that it costs 16.1 percent of the annual salary if the job pays no more than $30,000, 19.7 percent if the job pays between $30,001 and $50,000 and 20.4 percent for jobs paying between $50,001 and $75,000 annually. For senior executives or those holding jobs requiring stringent educational credentials, CAP estimates that costs can be as much as 213 percent.

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-9-27-05-pm

All estimates stated by SHRM and CAP include both tangible and intangible costs. To illustrate the mathematics, the CAP estimates will be used. Assume that a company has 100 employees earning $25,000 per year. If 2 percent of them quit each month, that is equivalent to 24 employees per year. At 16.1 percent, it will cost $4,025 to replace each employee who quits. This yields a total of $96,600 for replacing these employees.

Employee Turnover Costs 1

Now assume that the company only had 18 employees quit who earned $25,000 annually. However, three supervisors also quit, and each of them earned $45,000 per year. Two middle managers earning $60,000 annually quit as well as a senior executive earning $125,000. The math is as follows.

18 employees @ ($25,000 x 16.1 percent) = $72,450
3 employees @ ($45,000 x 19.7 percent) = $26,595
2 employees @ ($60,000 x 20.4 percent) = $24,480
1 employee @ ($125,000 x 213 percent) = $266,250

The grand total is $389,775, and that is using the lower estimates. Based on the estimates provided by SHRM, the direct costs alone could easily reach $498,000. Most companies could find better ways to spend this money.

Employee turnover costs 2

Why Employees Quit

Employees quit for a variety of reasons. Some never intended to stay beyond a certain point. Perhaps they wanted to have their student loan paid off or have a certain amount in their savings account. They may leave to follow a spouse who has been transferred or to stay home with the children. Maybe they want to go to medical school and know that the demands of their education would conflict with the job. There is not much that an employer can do to retain this group of employees.

Employee DissatisfactionHowever, most employees leave because of dissatisfaction.

-Contrary to what many believe, dissatisfaction with salary is not the leading cause.
– Conflict with a supervisor or co-worker, feeling undervalued, a lack of critical training and the belief that career advancement is impossible all rank higher than salary disputes.
– Employees who have been with the company for only a short time often claim that the realities of the job were not what was presented to them during the hiring process.
– Employees with several years of tenure frequently cite factors such as being passed over for a promotion or being treated unfairly.

The basic key to employee retention is employee engagement

Although many employers try to understand why employees leave, it is often more beneficial to examine why employees stay. The basic key to employee retention is employee engagement.
SHRM divides employee engagement into three categories: links, fit and sacrifice.

Connections and LinksLinks are the connections that employees have with their co-workers, mentors and work groups as well as ties to the community.

Fit

Fit describes the degree to which employees view themselves as a good fit with their company, job and community.

Sacrifice

Sacrifice represents what the employee would give up to leave the job.

Employees with strong links tend to have more difficulty leaving their friends at work or relatives in the community. Fit can imply that the employee believes that he or she excels at the job or embraces the values of the company, but it can also imply how well the employee enjoys the community. For example, employees who are avid snowboarders might not enjoy working and living in South Texas as much as they would enjoy other parts of the country. Sacrifice can involve forfeiting incentives that the company has tied to tenure, selling a beloved home or having to transfer children to a different school.

Employers can take steps to foster employee engagement in all three categories.
They might, for example:

  • Encourage employees to participate in local charity events,
  • Foster collaborative efforts,
  • Offer benefits that require a specific tenure or
  • Provide special benefits that would be difficult to find with another company.

Having a third party administer surveys to employees is an excellent way
to obtain the information needed

However, it is impossible for an employer to know what will engage employees without asking them. Employees are unique individuals who have different motivations, desires, dislikes and lifestyles. The problem arises when employers try to convince employees to share all of this with them. Employees may feel that they could suffer for their openness or say the wrong thing. Having a third party administer surveys to employees is an excellent way to obtain the information needed without the time and frustration that can be involved when attempting to get honest feedback from employees.

Surveys can cover a wide range of areas, including the employee’s relationship with his or her immediate supervisor, overall job satisfaction or training needed. Employees can be asked how well the job duties were explained during the interview process, whether they feel their work is sufficiently challenging or what benefits are most important. Employees may reveal whether they believe that the work they do matters, have pride in their employer, feel appreciated and believe that they have a future with the company — all of which are hallmarks of an engaged employee.

Retaining top talent can be challenging, but replacing them can be much more difficult. No single strategy for employee retention will work for every employer, but every employer can find a strategy that will work.

If you want to learn more about how to conduct real-time employee surveys without going crazy in the process visit ClarityWave.com to learn more about our Employee Engagement software, EPIC™

Tableta-essential

(1)http://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.htm
(2)https://www.shrm.org/about/foundation/research/Documents/Retaining%20Talent-%20Final.pdf
(3)https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/CostofTurnover.pdf

10 Tips for Dealing With Conflicts Among Team Members

Some of the biggest challenges you may face as a manager are the problems that may exist among the members of your team. The key to resolving any internal tensions starts with the creation of a favorable working environment and the use of communication as an effective tool to solve tensions, thereby improving productivity.

The conflicts that can slow and damage the smooth running of the company are of two types:

  • personal
  • professional

Personal problems can be difficult to approach from the management side, but nevertheless must be treated with care so as not to interfere in the work environment. In times, these problems can spread to other employees and tarnish the good working environment.

Knowing the problem: First step to tackle it

To address the internal problems it is necessary for managers to resort to their leadership, organization, observation and communication skills. Just  by knowing the existence of the problem, they may be able to tackle it. The information can come directly from those affected, their environment or through direct observation of those responsible for the area.

10 keys to identify and address labor disputes

 

1.- Knowing the problem. As noted above, knowing that there is a problem is the prerequisite to cope with it.

2.- Have good internal communication mechanisms that will allow you to diagnose the working environment and detect the problem with immediacy so as to prevent it from growing larger.

3.-Discover the nature of the problem. To do this, you can arrange a meeting with those involved in the conflict, separately.

4.- Have different versions of the problem. Giving the employees a chance to explain, is an opportunity to solve the problem and may represent an occasion to improve the inner workings of the company and get back to a good working environment.

5.- Create a complete outline of the problem. Possibly the problem results from a poor organization of tasks, misunderstandings, rumors, lies or under-performing of some employees that hurt others. The reasons are many and it is essential to meet with those involved so as to determine the causes and make an assessment of the work-place’s atmosphere.

6.- Summon a “face to face”. The opposing parties can sit down and debate the problem if the causes are of a professional nature, the causes of conflict are clear, and nerves calm. The interested parties can contribute to the solution of the conflict.

7.-Separate the professional aspect from the personal one. If personal problems are mixed with labor-related ones, the problem is compounded. Therefore it is essential to address the conflict as soon as possible in order to increase the chances of solving it satisfactorily and get back to establishing a good working environment.

8.-Solve the problem quickly and fairly. The problems may be more or less severe, but there is always a way to solve them. We must act in an objective and professional manner, facilitating communication and trying to find fair solutions for those involved.

9.-Understand the problem well. To do this we must seek the direct involvement and collaboration of all parties involved.

10.- Learning from mistakes. In any situation, personal or labor-related, it is normal for conflicts and tensions to arise. If there is a good working environment and desire to look forward for the common good, problems can be a chance to get positive results and know what things to avoid.

How are your teams interacting with each other? What do they think of the way you deal with conflict within your company’s culture?

Having a positive organizational climate leads to more engaged employees.

If you want to learn more about how to conduct real-time employee surveys without going crazy in the process visit ClarityWave.com to learn more about our Employee Engagement software, EPIC™

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Schedule a demo to see how EPIC™ by Clarity Wave can help you have more engaged employees and improve your company’s culture.

Working with Millennials

What’s it really like to work with Millennials?

MillennialsIt’s well known that some like to throw around the term “narcissistic” and subsequently write off the most recent generation to hit the professional workforce. But, as time has been able to tell a little more detail about them, the Millennial generation acts in very similar ways to those that have come before it.

Some of their more unique traits, though, are as follows:

  • A confidence (and potentially overconfidence) in both their worth as an individual and the role that they play on any team

  • A willingness to and enjoyment in working as a team

  • An incredibly structured mindset that has provided the positive of seemingly tireless workers and potential negative of being unable to handle excess time

  • A positive attitude toward the future that allows them to be far more trusting in their superiors and government than the generation that preceded them

While they may be young and seemingly innocent, this generation holds the future in their hands. Below are some ways to help you understand the best ways to work with Millennials and some things to avoid when trying to keep them happy.

Work-life Balance

As the manager or team leader of a group containing Millennials, it is important to make sure that they feel their workplace is balanced well with their home and personal life. If they are working long hours, promote events that they may invite someone to join them in or, if a business event, that they can then bring something home from.

If you are working under a Millennial, ask them about their home life and, whatever you may be thinking, be supportive.

Like the baby boomer generation, Generation Y is also money-motivated.

Research shows that they tend to switch jobs more often than other generations due to seeking a higher wage. For this reason, encourage your Millennial coworker to apply for raises or promotions within the company. If you are working under one, be aware that their drive to earn more money may affect how they view your performance, and try to not take critique too personally.

Social is key

If you are working nearby Millennials, you know how true it is that this generation loves to be social. However, there is a hoard of online social media sites that attest to this fact if you’re closest neighbor is the wall. If you are one of the Gen X’ers, you may find their social rambling seemingly void of higher thought and motivation. But beneath some of the more surface talk are individuals who are highly motivated by a positive view of the future. Encourage them to harness their positivity toward making their immediate surrounding a better place and you may just have the next great idea.

Always on the move

As the manager of people belonging to Generation Y, you may notice that they never seem to be still. Having been raised during the technological revolution, these individuals can handle the tech side of a job while planning their next adventure with their buddies. To an extent, this ease of multitasking is incredibly beneficial. As the manager, though, you need to monitor employee engagement and keep them occupied with tasks that focus on them getting one job at a time done successfully. If they feel they are not being challenged, not only will they be bored, but they may just leave altogether.

Praise often and generously

Generation Y is not one to suspect your praise of their work. Take the time to acknowledge their effort and success, as it will keep them loyal to you as a friend, employee, or coworker, and loyal to the company as a whole. If there isn’t praise to be given, then choose to speak candidly and to the point. Communicate with them quickly over messaging or emails. These workers do not “beat around the bush,” and would rather that you don’t either.

Finally, as mentioned, Millennial’s view the future in optimistic terms. For the workplace, this means that no task is unsolvable. Let their natural flare for group work bring about a successful result. If you are on a team with a Millennial, try your best to absorb their energy. For Baby Boomers this may not be as difficult, but for those in Generation X, it may prove to be a challenge. If you’re struggling to channel your inner sunshine, then find the task that needs done and help the team carry on.

EPIC by Clarity WaveReal-time tools like Clarity Wave’s EPIC PRO™ allow Millennials to quickly and easily express their opinions and perceptions of their workplace and coworkers in a safe and anonymous environment. It also fosters a community-building environment that allows people to praise their peers with a variety of badges and stickers.

Working with Gen X’ers

Generation X entails those born anywhere from 1965 to 1980.

Generation X'er ManGrowing up in this fast-paced era has provided some incredibly eager and adept people. While the preceding and following generations tend to see positives and place trust in institutions, Generation X is the opposite. Some of their leading characteristics are:

  • A pervading cynicism of anything that stays positive or seems “too good to be true”

  • An individualistic drive that spurs them to take pride in being able to do everything on their own

  • An adeptness to technology that did not exist before, as they were the generation growing up with each advance and learning to manipulate devices at a young age

  • A flexibility in both personal and professional circumstances, resulting in their being able to leave jobs at a higher rate

While their strong personalities might offend some, it doesn’t mean they aren’t essential parts of the team. The following information may be a good guide to use when seeking to keep a happy workplace with individuals from Generation X.

This is the generation that prefers you to simply lay out the task before them and tell them how to complete it. Tying in mission statements and how their effort makes you feel might actually deter their desire to complete the task, so just keep it simple. These individuals have lived through many economical highs and lows, and tend to be distrusting of both the good and the bad times. As their fellow coworker, try not to take it on yourself to correct their personal views, and just let them work.

Employee surveys show that:

  • Communicating with Generation X’ers is best done by email. Keep things formal and to the point, just like you do with face to face conversation.
  • Too much positivity from their boss tends to be met with skepticism,
  • while too much from their peer or subordinate can be met with anything from mild indifference to outright annoyance.

You might love that your cat just learned the alphabet, but to a Generation X’er, that was five minutes of their work day that could have been spent completing a task.

To ensure employee happiness, keep someone of this generation engaged in solving a task. These workers tend to be very efficient and creative thinkers, and if you loosen the leash and allow them to think outside the box and create their own solution, you’ll probably love what you get. As a manager, you won’t have to be as concerned over employee engagement with this generation. They love the feeling of finishing a job and doing it well.

Compliment or reward this individual directly after they have done something noteworthy. As mentioned, they tend to be cynical. If your compliment is too late in taking place, they may be wondering just what you want from them. On the same note, don’t over compliment. If you are working underneath Generation X’ers, it may be best to avoid complimenting at all if not done in group settings. When appropriate, however, keep compliments simple and matter-of-fact.

While it may be frustrating to feel like they tend to be on the negative side during team meetings, these workers will usually offer their own idea if they don’t like the ones being given. Try to view their critique as a way of achieving the best results for the task rather than outright attack on your worth as a human.

Boomers may be hesitant to serve under Generation X.

Because this generation places high value in keeping time for home life, there tends to be more flexibility in the workplace allowing for employees to take time for their families and personal life. Take this as a sign of higher efficiency instead of a sign that the company is about to fail.

Overall, Generation X’ers bring incredible work ethic to the team.

Be sure to keep it simple and direct when communicating and let their natural ingenuity lead the way when appropriate. The best workplace is one that manages hard work with time spent enjoying life. This generation is one that understands the value in working efficiently and enjoying the leisure that is earned.

 

Real-time tools like Clarity Wave’s EPIC™ allow Gen X’ers to quickly and easily express their opinions and perceptions of their workplace and coworkers in a safe and anonymous environment.

If you want to learn more about how to conduct real-time employee surveys without going crazy in the process visit ClarityWave.com to learn more about our Employee Engagement software, EPIC™

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Schedule a demo to see how EPIC™ by Clarity Wave can help you have more engaged employees and improve your company’s culture.