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.

Office flowers - pexels

Seven Tips to help make employees happier

 

Ice Cream - Pexels
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.

Top Ways To Keep Your Employees Safe And Healthy

Home Office - Pexels
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.

The goal of every business owner is to grow. Hopefully, that means growing from solopreneurship to adding an employee or two. If you have a plan to keep your employees safe and healthy before you ever add your first employees, you’ll be well on your way to being a good employer.

The flip is also true. As an employee, you should be able to expect your supervisor and employer to provide a safe and healthy work environment. Not all of the items below are required, they’re just good business practices and may be items worth negotiating during the job offer process.

There are many rules and regulations and statutes for what constitute a safe and healthy work environment. Those should be your first and foremost point of reference. But those basics are just a starting point for creating a 
safe workplace. There’s more you can do as an employer and should expect as an employee.

Don’t work too much
It can be easy to work a lot when there is much to do. But study after study shows excessive work hours don’t equal good quality work and can be a drain on overall health and well-being. Moreover, excessive overtime can lead to a toxic work environment for everyone. As we discussed before, you can’t fake a positive atmosphere. So if your employees have been working lots of hours lately, you should find a way to let them take some time off or perhaps provide lunch or a snack in the afternoon as a way to socialize and take a break. Every office has a busy season, what makes a good work space is a balance when work is a bit slower.

As an employee, don’t be afraid (within reason of course!) to use your vacation time. Even a half day away from the office can be enough of a break to leave you feeling refreshed and ready to return to work.

Be mindful of rest, exhaustion can lead to mistakes or injuries and adds to increasing stress .

Sort out an evacuation plan
An oft-overlooked element of workplace safety, especially for those who work at home is an evacuation plan in an emergency  An evacuation plan will make sure everyone knows what to do if there is a fire. If you have employees, make sure you know who is working (if you’re lucky enough to have more than one!) and make sure you have shared a meeting place away from the building. If possible, post this information so it is easily accessible in an emergency.

In all workspaces (even your home!), there should be extinguishers in key locations. If possible, learn how to use the extinguisher.  If you regularly have clients or customers in your office, consider creating a code word to convey an emergency situation without inducing panic. Consider adding evacuation equipment if you have staff or clients with disabilities, who might not be able to leave the building on their own.

Send them off for health and safety
You can also keep your employees safe and healthy by sending them off for training. There are all kinds of training opportunities for businesses of all sizes. If you do have more than yourself in your employ, considering finding a time for everyone to attend a training. This is a great team building opportunity.

Make a leader in the team
Another way to keep your employees safe and healthy is to appoint or elect a leader who will be responsible in an emergency. The leader should know where the fire extinguishers and emergency material are located, and may be the person to use the extinguisher or other emergency items. They can be a go-to person in an illness, accident or injury situation. 

Obviously, if you are the only employee, you are the responsible party.

Overall, whether you are a business of one or 500, plan for emergencies big and small.

End the Stigma Today

End the Stigma Today

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.

General anxiety is common. This report from Pfizer found “up to 1 in 4 adults will have an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, and that up to 1 in 10 people will have an anxiety disorder each year.” Think about those numbers. That means if you and three of your colleagues are standing at the water cooler, the chances are pretty good that one of you is dealing with an anxiety issue. You don’t have to suffer alone. Let’s collectively start thinking about mental health in the same way we think about and treat other illnesses, like the common cold, and ultimately remove the stigma.

Anxiety has a nasty way of manifesting itself in people without showing its true colors. Unfortunately, this can lead to poor job performance and unsociable behaviour. In time, this can cause all sorts of problems in your career, so you need to identify it early.

One of the reasons why anxiety isn’t so easily recognized is because it’s not easy to detect. Everyone can occasionally be anxious about things from time to time, from going to a big meeting to presenting or speaking in front of a lot of people.

Severe anxiety is much more pervasive. It can affect everything a person does from getting out of bed in the morning, to driving, to walking in the office door. It can make someone arrive late, take extra days off sick or quit a job they used to love.

It should come as no surprise work performance suffers. As a colleague or supervisor, try to put yourself in their shoes.

Perhaps your coworker is asked to do something that they aren’t comfortable with, beyond just learning a new job-related skill. If your colleague has a phobia of something and it is impacting their performance, encourage them to seek professional help. If you are the supervisor, the person may not feel comfortable discussing the issue with you.

In many office environments, there is an under-used benefit, an employee counseling service. The Fox Station I worked at in San Antonio had one, as has every other job I’ve had since. This information is usually available in benefit handouts with medical insurance information or by talking with the HR person. 

 

It’s never a bad idea to gently encourage someone exhibiting anxious behavior to seek outside help. If it’s applicable, consider also encouraging that person to ask about their supervisor or HR director about altering their workload. If the alterations are short-term, the person may be able to use another under-used benefit, short-term disability (if the employer offers this benefit).

Anxiety can be quelled, but it’s a long-term process that should be identified as early as possible. As a colleague, the best thing you can do is be observant about behavior changes, keep an open mind and ideally an open door and gently encourage professional help. 

Most importantly, don’t make assumptions. #EndtheStigma For more information, visit End the Stigma Today.

Food Hoarders

Image from: www.heraldsun.com.au
Image from: http://www.heraldsun.com.au

If you work in an office for long enough, you’ll realize that there are certain kinds of people who share your space, building and office kitchen. Sometimes your office mates brighten your day and sometimes they’ll drive you crazy.

There is one office event that can make even the most diminutive colleague competitive: free food. In a newsroom, nothing makes journalists run faster than an email that states, “[insert food item here] is left over from a meeting in the kitchen. Help yourself!” You can almost hear the stampede to the kitchen, but don’t wait too long or the Food Hoarders might clean out the left overs before you’ve had a chance to even get to the kitchen. Like vultures descending on prey, Food Hoarders don’t wait for the person who sent the email to actually finish putting the tray down before scooping up every morsel they can.

Food Hoarders are the colleagues who don’t just take a piece of cake, they take several pieces of cake for later. They don’t just take one bag of chips left over from boxed lunches, they take three bags to keep in their desk.  This wouldn’t be an issue if the person wanting to take three bags of chips waited until everyone had a chance to have one bag, but these food hoarders simply see the free food as a first come, first serve opportunity. This inevitably means someone feels left out. Someone who was in the middle of doing their job and couldn’t run to the kitchen didn’t get a snack or the few minutes of water cooler chit-chat.

Over time, you might start to notice a pattern: the same people who race to the kitchen are the ones eating the bags of chips days, even weeks later. Unchecked this can lead to resentment. Or worse, the Food Hoarders could get left off the original email so as to give other people a chance for free food.

So don’t be a Food Hoarder. Be respectful of your friends and colleagues and see the free food email as a way to have a snack, not a meal and definitely not as a way to cram your desk full of food.