Are your employees happy?

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Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Are you completely sure your staff is happy? Even though they get on with their work without much fuss doesn’t necessarily mean that they are content. If you don’t think morale levels in your office are that great, try complimenting your employees and recognizing them for their efforts. You can also consider offering a perk, a something extra above and beyond a paycheck and benefits. While many of these tips are for businesses with more than one employee, make sure even if you’re a solopreneur that you are rewarding your hard work. Plus, consider this list future goals for when your business exceed the home office. 

Free Drinks And Snacks
This point may be quite obvious, but there are still so many companies out there who still don’t offer free drinks and snacks. If you have an office kitchen, place a fruit bowl full of fresh fruit. Make sure the fridge is full of bottled water, juices, and soft drinks. Your employees will probably appreciate an above average coffee machine like those from Honest Coffees over the traditional drip office coffee makers. 

Health Insurance
While you may be legally required to provide an employee health insurance, consider paying more for the plan or offering ways to offset the cost to the employee. While free things are nice, American employees regularly rank health insurance as one of the top benefits an employer can offer. 

Sick Days And Maternity Leave
There are other practical benefits that all employees find extremely attractive. Mainly extra paid sick days and maternity leave. When people are job hunting, they will look for perks such as these to help them decide which positions to apply for and may even take a lower paying job if the sick, maternity and vacation policies are better. If as an employer you can offer more than the average sick days and maternity leave, you may find yourself competing for better talent at a lower wage cost. 

After Work Drinks
Consider hosting a happy hour in the office after work on a Friday. Or take a field trip and pay for appetizers at a local restaurant and have employees purchase their own drinks. Make these events optional, but encouraged. With enough advanced notice, you may see more people in attendance than you thought.

Breakout Room
Hootsuite’s Vancouver office has a nap room for its employees! You might not want to go to that extreme, but you should consider creating a breakout room, which is slightly more than a simple break room with a drip coffee maker, a few chairs and a refrigerator. If you have the room, consider a ping-pong table or a foosball table. You might add a sofa or a few comfortable chairs. Breakout rooms are wonderful for brainstorming and impromptu colleague meetings. 

 

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Quick Tips On How To Make Employee Management Easier

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Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers. 

You probably became your own boss because you liked working for yourself more than you liked working for someone else. If you’re lucky to have outgrown solopreneurship and need to hire an additional employee or employees, consider implementing a few elements that might have made you more likely to stay at your last position. There are a few universal tactics that when implemented correctly could help you have a great relationship with dedicated and loyal employees. 

Make Work Flexible
As a business owner, it’s not your job to coddle employees. But if you can take steps to improve their quality of life while achieving your business goals, you should. Clock watchers just make everyone miserable. If appropriate, consider making work time flexible and trust your employees to get the work done. Employers who insist on certain working hours often end up creating a lot more work for themselves.

There have been great advances in remote working tools and there are many apps help businesses manage communication with staff and conduct projects.

Automate Payroll
Most people without experience in business assume that wages are the only cost of employing people. But there are plenty of other expenses that go along with the hiring and employing process. One of those expenses is managing payroll. Businesses spend hundreds of hours filing payroll taxes and payroll paperwork and it costs time in addition to money.

Fortunately, the process can be automated by using payroll software such as payroll 1099 software ETC

Be More Transparent
Recently, the American Psychological Association posted a report on employee trust. They found that around a quarter of workers in the US don’t trust their employer. About a half of all those questioned said they didn’t believe their company was always candid. A lack of trust makes the job of managing people a lot harder because employees are always questioning motives and concerned about ulterior motives.

Another consequence of a lack of trust is that employees aren’t forthcoming. If they recognize a problem, they’re more likely to keep it to themselves than to inform you. Thus, companies that lack transparency are more liable to have to deal with crises that seemed to come out of nowhere when usually there was something small that could have been fixed early in the process for a lot less time and money.

The other problem is that it is a barrier to collaboration. Employees often want to work together to solve problems. But if the culture is closed, problem-solving becomes harder. People are unwilling to share information that could be used to solve a problem or make a process better.

Build A Community
Management might not like this fact, but companies that are peer-to-peer tend to be a lot more successful. We’ve all grown up in a world where hierarchy is assumed to be the best way to do business. But innovative companies are showing that this is not necessarily the case. Just look at the success that companies like Valve have had using the peer-to-peer model.

The lesson here seems to be that a community of equals is far more productive than a hierarchy. Employees are more likely to feel that they have support and a stake in the organization. As a result, they’ll work harder and enjoy their job more.

Employee and partner attributes to help business growth

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Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers. 

As a business owner, you know your business better than anyone else. If you’re lucky enough to grow from a solopreneur to an entrepreneur with a staff, there are few attributes that will help you find employees and partners who will help the business continue to grow. 

 

Employee attribute: good customer service
No matter what size you are, you can never leave the level of customer service you provide solely in the hands of your staff. It is a crucial part of maintaining the brand you’ve built and contributes greatly to your word of mouth advertising.  Make sure you personally review interaction between your staff and your customers. Find ways to systemize service. Make sure your staff can at minimum answer questions promptly and correctly. Make sure everyone your organization does business with is treated fairly and with respect. If the service a staff member provides isn’t up to your expectations, try being very clear in what you expect from them. If they can’t reach your expectations, consider finding another use for them. 

Employee attribute: good match
As the owner, making sure the people are right for the job, or the job is right for the people, is entirely your call. Your staff should be an extension of what helped you grow to the point of needing new staff and should have many of the same attributes. People who would be happy to be on your side if you could make them feel that way. This means providing opportunities for development and scaling their role to suit them. Not just demanding more of them.

Employee attribute: explained and easy to follow processes
It’s up to your staff to do their jobs, but it’s up to you to help them find the best way to do it. The longer your business goes on, the more you’re going to identify the processes of it. Then, hopefully, the more you can see ways to shorten that process and reduce the amount of time it takes. The more convoluted any task in the office, the more chance of suffering loss during that task. That’s why methods like Lean Six Sigma exist. To identify and eliminate complexity and risk.

Partner attribute: financial knowhow
If you’ve been neglecting your finances, now is the time to stop. Taking your eye off of this ball in particular is an easy to sink your business. You need to lay out and regularly audit the financial standing of your business. This means at least using accounting software to better help you lay out your current situation. Using that software will help you with income statements, balance sheets and cash flow projections. You should also consider partnering and working with and accountant. Tips for choosing a good one are:

  • does the accountant understand your business?
  • can they help keep you organized?
  • are they available to answer questions?

Growing and being able to share your responsibilities is a good thing for any business owner. Particularly early on and with the first few employees, you must take an involved and proactive approach. 

Get Your Employees On Your Side To Make Your Business A Hit

Office environment - PexelsEditor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers. 

A fundamental part of your business is who you employ. As a solopreneur, that means you. But if you’ve expanded to include a VA or another person, now is the time to start making sure your employees are also business advocates. You can buy the tech, have all the resources and be well-funded but if your employees aren’t on board, you’ll likely lose business. Your employees are who your customers will see and interact with. These are the people who will decide whether your business has a positive or negative spin attached to your brand. Here are a few ideas to help make sure you and your employees are setting the right tone. Again, if you’re a solepreneur, some of these things might be good ideas to motivate you and make sure you are on the right track.

Incentives
It’s not a bad idea to offer your employees some incentives to work hard. These don’t have to be monetary gains although they can be. For instance, you can give the best worker a bonus or reward for reaching a business milestone. This will encourage all the workers to reach a higher level of efficiency. An alternate possibility is to be supportive and treat your employees fairly and with respect. Making employees feel like they are part of a family is an easy to build employee loyalty. Creating a family atmosphere might be having favorite snacks in the break room or bringing in a cup of coffee.  You can find out more about making your office comfortable on https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/.

Strong Leadership
Without strong leadership making your business feel like home can soon transform it into a party atmosphere where rules and processes go by the wayside. You never want to create a “do as I say, not as I do atmosphere.” Work to make sure you can still guide your employees to assist in achieving business goals. Don’t let employees become nonchalant about their work output. Even just checking on them occasionally will help ensure this doesn’t happen. It will remind them there is someone at the head of the business who they need to follow and get behind. You can learn more about leadership on sites such as http://thebarefootspirit.com/blog/2016/03/31/3-essentials-of-effective-leadership.

A Brilliant Office Design
You might be surprised to learn that your office design, specifically wall colors will affect how hard your employees work. For instance, light colors create a more friendly atmosphere. Be careful with somber colors as this can make people feel down. As well as that, you may want to think about the layout of your office. Certain layouts have different effects too. For instance, for co-operative working, you may want to think about facing the desks towards one another.

It’s not a bad idea to put art on the walls if possible, consider showcasing an employee’s photos or artwork. Bring in some fresh flowers or a bowl of fruit. These things can make an office seem more welcoming. Click here for more ways to help employees become team players.

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Seven Tips to help make employees happier

 

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Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Employee happiness is in the doldrums (speaking of, if you haven’t read one of my most favorite books, The Phantom Tollbooth, go do it right now. Whenever I write doldrums, it makes me think of the book.). Workers are reporting low satisfaction with their jobs, and it’s affecting their ability to work.

Workers are reporting low satisfaction with their jobs, and it’s affecting their ability to work. Data from international polling suggests that job satisfaction is lower in the corporate world. A

Of course, there are costs associated with an unhappy workforce. Unhappy workers are typically productive and less likely to take on leadership roles. Unhappy employees are less creative and less likely to have good workplace relationships. 

There are several things employers big and small can do to help combat unhappy workers before they become disgruntled.

  1. Create A Sense Of Belonging
    One of the first things that businesses can do is help employees feel like they belong. Too many businesses are arms length organizations where employees come to work, do the work and then go home. The managers rarely ask for input or opinion and can most often be found behind closed doors. Regularly, this leads to employees talking amongst themselves and contempt gaining steam in the gossip mill.Companies can help employees feel valued, by engaging with them in simple and straightforward ways. Make sure employees have opportunities to work with and engage with each other. Recognizing individual and group efforts can go a long way in boosting morale. Have an open door for ideas, or create an idea box.
  2. Encourage Disengagement
    Employers can also assist employee happiness by helping their employees disengage. It might sound like a bad idea, and while they’re at work, it is. But letting employees know that their lunch break and weekends are truly theirs is a good way to improve their wellbeing.Just letting employees know that they can disengage during their time off can be a bonus. Employees are more likely to trust and respect employers who say this because they respect their free time. One of the biggest problems in the workplace is that employees are always connected and may feel obligated to check email or return phone calls on their off hours. That means that they can often feel like they don’t have the luxury of switching off. But switching off, and enjoying other things in life is fundamental to employee happiness.
  3. Begin A Support Program
    Of course, these gestures are all well and good. But employee wellbeing is a complex issue. Organizations should not be the final arbiter of employee happiness. Employee circumstances and psychology are a part of the equation. Employee assistance programs (EAP) are more involved than your average HR support. EAP services for employers include in-depth stress coaching and other one-to-one support. An EAP program helps to take the level of employee care to another level. This type of coaching is far better able to get to the root of employee issues.
  4. Encourage A Healthful Lifestyle
    Employers can also do their bit to improve employee lifestyles. Many companies are already offering more than just typical health insurance and retirement contributions as benefits. Other perks like sponsoring a softball team or hosting a yoga workshop or bringing in a massage therapist are not just for the Googles and Facebooks of the corporate world.
  5. Recognize Progress
    Most employees take their jobs very seriously, at least to begin with. They want to do well, and they want to perform to expectations. But they can often feel like their efforts are going unrewarded.There’s nothing worse than working 50 or 60 hour weeks on a project and not having that effort recognized. This is where management should step in. The companies that will be the most successful are those that reward success. Why? Because rewarding success is what will continue to motivate their staff. Working hard can almost be fun when there is that sense of achievement. Sure, it’ll be hard getting there. Good companies recognize that fact. But they also recognize that just paying out bonuses isn’t enough. There needs to be a personal interaction and appreciation too.
  6. Negotiate And Build Trust
    All too often there’s a tit-for-tat attitude in businesses, especially in teams. Different players in teams can adopt this attitude, which can be damaging to their progress. For one, it means that every employee is always keeping tabs on all other employees. If employee A didn’t help employee B, then why should B help A?The trick here is to build trust. Team members should be able to rely on each other in times of need. After all, that’s an important function of a team. So it’s best if employees can avoid calculating the efforts of others. Teams come together in unexpected ways. So no employee knows in advance when and where they will be needed. That’s why companies that have trust and negotiate will succeed in the long-run.
  7. Make Work Fun
    The last point that needs to be made is that businesses should make work fun. It’s one of those hidden benefits of work: being able to have a joke with your colleagues. When people can see the funny side of a situation, it actually boosts corporate culture. Humour is great for building teams and bringing people together. Companies in which people feel relaxed will tend to have the best outcomes and the most camaraderie.

No one of these elements will guarantee that all employees are happy all the time. Employers shouldn’t be afraid to switch things up. An ice cream social on a hot summer Friday afternoon might help employees feel appreciated and remind everyone that there is more to life than just 40 hours a week at the office.