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3 Reasons Company Culture Is So Important Amidst COVID-19

Company culture has transformed from a popular HR buzzword to an important element that companies give serious consideration to. As COVID-19 continues to impact how companies manage their employees and their business, culture is more important than ever. Check out a few reasons why keeping up with your company culture is so important right now!

woman at computer

1. Recruitment, Hiring, and Onboarding

During the early stages of the coronavirus, things like recruitment and hiring came to a halt for many companies as they worked to navigate the rough waters of the pandemic. However, it’s become increasingly apparent that we can no longer put important processes like hiring on hold. Instead, we must focus on transforming them, just as many companies have done with other facets of their work.

Company culture has always been an important part of recruitment and hiring. It’s a wonderful way for candidates to better understand the inner workings of the company they’re applying and interviewing at. This is why it should be at the forefront of all HR professionals’ minds while determining a new hiring process.

For example, how do you utilize social media to convey company culture? This is especially important given candidates often can’t meet with you or experience your workplace in person. Consider the interview process, especially for the companies and employees deemed essential. How do you show candidates what steps you’re taking to ensure employee health and safety? Upon hiring, do you have a carefully thought-out and prepared plan to onboard an employee who may have to work remotely for the foreseeable future? All of these are questions that will reflect your company culture. Therefore, you should be considering each one as you develop a new hiring plan amidst the coronavirus.

2. Communication

For many companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, communication has become vital. As a company with essential employees, communicating new health guidelines or changes in hours should be done in a timely manner. As a company whose employees have remained remote, online communication has become one of the only ways to transmit important messages and information.

No matter what your business is, you likely know the importance of communication. But what many don’t realize is how communication and company culture are connected. Remember, company culture isn’t just about weekly happy hours or interesting amenities at your workplace. It’s also about how you value your employees’ health and wellbeing, and how you transparently demonstrate that to them. To keep your company culture strong during the pandemic, reinforce your support of employees by keeping communication constant and educational, and offering a space for them to respond if needed. Work to quickly develop new guidelines based on the information you’re receiving. Then, communicate them to your employees in a way that is digestible and concise. Use different communication channels to send out messages with varying degrees of importance. This way, employees can quickly understand the gravity of a given situation.

For example, PerkSpot leverages a few different communication channels. We rely on Slack to communicate more casual notices, like a fun company-wide initiative or virtual event. We depend on email to send out important messages, like new in-office guidelines or rules for quarantining. Plus, we hold a regular cadence of company-wide meetings, creating a forum in which employees can get updates on other departments and ask questions about future plans or team developments. This effective and transparent system of communicating helps employees better fulfill their roles and responsibilities, thus creating a culture of connected and engaged employees!

3. Productivity and Engagement

Speaking of engagement, there’s no doubt of the connection between company culture and a productive and engaged workforce. A study by Queens School of Business and the Gallup Organization found disengaged workers showed 37% more absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors. Plus, that disengagement translated to 18% lower productivity!

A positive company culture, on the other hand, typically produces more engaged employees. This is because it promotes general employee wellness, support, and respect. If leaders or management put too much of an emphasis on working long hours or being overly productive, without mentioning the value of daily breaks or acknowledging employees’ hard work, a stressful and negative culture can quickly emerge. So, how can you promote a culture of employee wellness and support? Encourage employees to take breaks away from their work, especially if they’re remote. Offer resources that foster both physical and mental wellbeing and motivate leaders in your company to set an example by doing so as well. Recognize your employees going above and beyond to produce great results, which promotes a more engaged workforce and a culture of workplace appreciation.

For example, as an employee discount provider, PerkSpot employees receive all of the benefits that we offer our clients! That means PerkSpotters have access to discounted mental health apps, home workout products, and more. Plus, we add and highlight new discounts that are relevant to the wellbeing of employees regularly so employees are aware of them. These perks are a great way for leadership to demonstrate how they prioritize the health of their employees which, in turn, leads to a more productive and engaged workforce!

For many years, company culture has been a way for companies to highlight their values to current and potential employees. But amidst an unprecedented pandemic, company culture also offers the opportunity to help promote stronger engagement and more informative communication. Plus, it’s the perfect way to attract potential employees when so many other resources aren’t available. As we all work to navigate COVID-19 and its impacts, be sure you continue to prioritize and adapt your company culture!

Why Checking in With Employees Is More Important Than Ever

It’s no secret to most managers, and employees for that matter, that regular employee check-ins are an important part of any job. While the frequency and format of an employee check-in can change from organization to organization, the content will typically stay the same. Check-ins allow for more direct communication and feedback between managers and employees. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to provide project updates and share any questions or concerns.

employee one-on-ones

Though employee check-ins have gotten considerably more complicated as so many workforces and organizations have moved to remote working, they’ve also become more important than ever. Check out the four reasons why employee check-ins are so important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Feedback

Employee check-ins, commonly referred to as one-on-ones, are always a great opportunity for both managers and employees to offer feedback on a number of different areas they deal with on a daily basis. However, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, check-ins give both parties a chance to offer feedback on more than just performance. It’s important for managers to open up the floor for employees to evaluate how they are feeling about their current work situation, remote or not, as well as things like company responsiveness, communication with fellow team members and departments, and more. Managers should encourage employees to share their thoughts on all of these subjects, and any other important ones that come to mind, and ensure them that their feedback during one-on-ones is private and confidential.

2. Support

There is no denying the fact that we are dealing with difficult times, and many employees may be struggling personally with adjusting to this new normal. While it’s still important that managers stay professional during check-ins, a one-on-one with employees presents a wonderful opportunity to assess any areas the employee might be grappling with and offer both empathy and support. For example, we know that many are experiencing heightened levels of worry regarding their finances during these times. Therefore, remind employees of any financial wellness benefits the company offers them that they can utilize. Similarly, if your company offers mental health checks or wellness benefits, now is a great time to mention to employees that they’re available and even explain how to enroll! If you’re a current PerkSpot client, don’t forget that your Discount Program offers a number of exclusive discounts to your employees in important categories like health and wellness, financial wellness, and more! If you’re not a current PerkSpot client, but you’re interested in offering this as a benefit to your employees, click here to get more information!

3. Stress

There’s a good chance managers probably know the signs of burnout and they might even be trained in keeping an eye out for them in employees. Now more than ever, it’s important to be on the lookout for those signs: an employee who is noticeably and regularly tired, forgetful, anxious, or easily frustrated could be suffering from the early stages of burnout. For those who are working remotely, it’s easy to extend your working hours without even noticing, as there is no signal that the workday has ended. If managers begin to notice employees seem burned out, look for areas where they can help the employee manage his or her workload, and encourage them to log off when their workday is done. Be sure to offer positive reinforcement and recognize the hard work they’ve been putting in.

4. Communication

Obviously, employee check-ins are all about communicating about ongoing and future projects, setbacks, day-to-day responsibilities, and more. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, take that communication one step further. If managers are no longer seeing employees every day, they might not realize it, but both managers and employees are missing those daily communications they probably took for granted. Make sure that now, your one-on-ones are used to ask how they’re doing and feeling, what’s new for them, and offer the same responses back, so they feel the communication is going both ways. Additionally, employee check-ins should be the time in which managers communicate important updates and information regarding your company and COVID-19. At a time when everything is so unsure, they’ll appreciate the extra communication and reassurance.

No two employees are the same, and therefore, their check-ins won’t be either. Make sure managers take some time to consider the employee they’re meeting with and how he or she prefers to communicate and work. This can help direct the conversation and ensure that they are getting the feedback they need, plus offering support and providing updates employees are looking for.

5 Employee Gifts That Aren’t Bonuses

Sometimes, it feels like we were just celebrating the Fourth of July and then we blinked and it’s the holiday season! As the end of the year approaches, HR professionals are hard at work filling their offices with holiday cheer. And the one thing that’s at the top of many lists? Employee gifts!

And while 94% of employees in a recent survey said they want some form of seasonal gift, remember that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bonus to make your employees feel valued and appreciated. Plus, for many companies, a unique employee gift aligns more closely with the company culture. Check out some out-of-the-box options that will have your employees smiling for the rest of the year!

Holiday Party

What better way to celebrate the end of the year than a company-wide holiday party? You may be thinking of the costs associated with something like this. However, it’s possible to keep a holiday celebration under budget! If possible, utilize your own office space and suggest a potluck, encouraging employees to bring in their favorite dishes to share with their coworkers. You can even hold a gift exchange like a Secret Santa or White Elephant – make sure to include a modest value for the gifts so employees don’t feel pressured to spend big bucks on anything. This is a great way for your employees to get together outside of the normal work hours and celebrate the holidays!

Extra PTO

According to a recent survey, almost 30% of employees said what they’d most want from their company is a few extra hours here or there to spend with their loved ones. As a holiday gift, offer employees an extra vacation day or close the office slightly early leading up to the holidays as a special treat. Work tends to slow down as the quarter comes to a close, so you likely won’t experience a strong impact in output, and you’ll have some happy coworkers who return from their holiday refreshed and ready to get back to work.

Charitable Donations

You know what they say – this is the season of giving! So why not give back on behalf of your employees as their gift? You can make a small (or large!) donation to the charity of your employee’s choice in his or her name, or choose a few options and give them the choice. Bonus points if you pick charities that give back directly to your local community! Not only are you paying it forward in a big way, but your employees will appreciate your charitable thinking. If you want to make it a bit more personal, you can even schedule a day of volunteering at a local charity where your employees can give back themselves.

Productivity Gifts

For some employees, there’s nothing better than unwrapping an actual, physical gift. Make it a win-win and seek out gifts that your employees will love and you can enjoy as well. For example, do you ever hear of employees complaining of bad backs or sore wrists due to typing at their desks all day? Give them a new ergonomic keyboard or chair! Is your sales department dying for branded apparel they can wear to important client meetings? Try presenting them with a branded polo or vest! These are gifts that they’ll enjoy and use, plus they’ll appreciate knowing that you’ve heard their requests throughout the year!

Rewards & Recognition Dollars

Sometimes, a monetary gift really is the way to go! But instead of simply writing your employee an impersonal check, why not use your Rewards & Recognition program to say happy holidays? Not only can you customize it by including a personal note of gratitude and appreciation, but it also gives your employees the opportunity to redeem for a gift card for a number of different stores! Whether they want to treat themselves to something special or use it to help them for holiday gift-buying, rewards and recognition credits give your employees the freedom to buy what they want and the knowledge that they’re being recognized for a job well done. Want to learn more about rewards and recognition programs? Get started here!

Holiday gifts can be a tough thing to navigate, as you want to reward and recognize your employees, but still find something that feels unique to your company and culture (and doesn’t break the bank). Try any of these options and you’ll have some happy employees!

How to Save Your Employees Money

A recent report by Willis Towers Watson discovered that almost a quarter of surveyed employees fell into the “high-stress” category when it came to dealing with their finances. Unfortunately, that financial stress tends to pervade nearly every aspect of an employee’s life, including – obviously – their work. And the stats don’t get any better. Employees who are struggling financially will lose 41% of work time compared to their less-stressed counterparts. Plus, they’re more likely to have low engagement and productivity levels. Whether we like it or not, an employee’s financial struggles can easily become an HR problem. Want to fix that? Check out the top 4 ways you can easily help improve your employees’ financial wellbeing!

employee financial stress

1. Flexible Schedule

HR professionals already know the importance of a flexible schedule. Not only does it provide the opportunity for a better work-life balance for employees, but it can actually improve productivity and engagement. But there’s another unexpected upside to allowing your employees a bit of flexibility in their scheduling: it saves them money! The option to work remotely or choose your own hours means employees don’t always have to commute into work, so they can save on gas or public transportation costs. What’s more, the necessity for child or pet care, which is more often than not a costly expense, is dramatically reduced. If you’re looking for an easy way to help your employees save, consider implementing a flexible scheduling option!

2. Financial Advising

Many employees develop their financial stress simply because they don’t feel educated enough on the topic. When this is the case, the best thing you as an HR professional can do is offer them as many resources as possible. To begin, get a good understanding of the kind of financial advice your employees want with a survey. From there, you can find a myriad of options that will provide financial education to your employees. Depending on your employees, this can range from budgeting advice, saving tips, investment suggestions, or retirement plan help. Not only can these lessons benefit your employees’ financial wellness, but a less financially stressed employee will be more productive and more engaged.

3. Referral Bonuses

As an HR professional, you probably know the importance of acquiring talented employees for your open roles. But did you know that the most effective way to recruit talent is through your current employees? Not only do employees understand their employer’s brand, culture, and needs, but they also know whether their referrals are equipped to fill open roles. Incentivize your employees to refer the best possible candidates by offering a referral bonus and encourage them to put it towards something important, like monthly payments or a savings plan. You can help put money into your employees’ pockets and find fantastic candidates all in one fell swoop!

4. Perks and Discounts

One of the best ways to help your employees save money is to offer them discounts in the places they spend the most money. But that can be difficult when you have a diverse workforce with different needs. Some employees may want to save on big-ticket items like automobiles or insurance. Others may want savings on smaller, everyday items like groceries, electronics, and other categories. That’s why an option like a perks and discounts program is perfect. Employees can search for the discounts that apply best to them and use them as they see fit.

Everybody knows how difficult it is to concentrate on work and other responsibilities when financial stress is weighing heavily on their mind. Therefore, it’s important that an employer takes the necessary steps to relieve employees’ stress when they can. If you don’t already, try implementing these different suggestions in your company to improve financial wellness, engagement, and productivity!

Tailoring Your Employee Benefits Communications Strategy for Non-Traditional Employees

A recent report discovered that the turnover rate is the same in organizations that don’t offer employee benefits and those that do, but don’t effectively communicate them. There’s a good chance you have an employee benefits communication strategy in place. But what if it’s not the right one for your employees? Check out this simple guide to tailoring your communication method to your non-traditional employees. It can ensure your employees make the most of their employee benefits!

benefits communication

For remote employees

In 2018, it was reported that 3.9 million Americans worked from home to fulfill at least half of their working hours. Anyone who has worked remotely knows the advantages: more flexibility, productivity, and engagement. But, from an HR professional’s perspective, it raises some difficulties. How can you properly communicate with an employee that you rarely see? It might be hard, but it’s definitely not impossible.

Want to effectively communicate your employee benefits to your remote workers? Turn to the digital possibilities. Remote workers are typically glued to their phones and/or work computers during their working hours. Therefore, digital communication works well here. However, that doesn’t mean you can send a quick ping and hope that the job is done! We recommend a user-friendly website or portal that houses all of your employee benefits offerings. Use email communication to consistently remind remote workers that this exists and is a great resource for any questions or concerns regarding benefits.

For part-time employees

Unlike remote workers, most part-timers aren’t in front of their computers all day. It’s also likely that their benefits suite differs significantly from that of a corporate employee. Whether the benefits you’re offering are run-of-the-mill or part of a more unique voluntary benefits suite, they can be instrumental in helping to retain your employees. In an industry like retail, where the part-time employee turnover rate sits at over 60 percent, employee loyalty is a must.

Want to effectively communicate employee benefits to part-time employees? Reach them at their place of work with physical pieces of communication. Make them specific and interesting, and offer an easy call to action so your employees understand the next steps they should take to learn more about benefits programs. You know your employees best, so consider what you could create that would inspire employees to engage – flyers, posters, and electronic displays are all great ideas you could execute. Give some thought to where to place them so your employees see them.

For gig employees

In recent years, we’ve seen a dramatic spike in the number of gig workers that make up the workforce. In fact, online surveys believe employees who reported engaging with gig work the month before make up between 25 and 30 percent of today’s workforce. However, nearly 9 out of every 10 gig workers has another form of income, meaning the benefits you offer are more than likely supplemental benefits. Keep in mind, these supplemental benefits can be a great tool to attract more employees, so it’s important you communicate them to both prospective and existing employees.

Want to effectively communicate employee benefits to gig employees? Take advantage of the method of communication you currently use to send messages and other important data. For many gig employees, this will be an app or website easily accessed on smartphones or mobile devices. Because they are already comfortable using this platform, it makes the most sense to seamlessly introduce benefits communications to it. Be sure to give ample indication to employees that their benefits can be accessed on an app. Assist them by providing a guide that explains just how to browse through the offerings.

According to SHRM, only 19 percent of employers believe that their employees have a high level of understanding regarding their employee benefits. In addition, 80 percent of organizations reported that their employees don’t even open or read their benefits communications. One possible reason? The communication strategy was developed without employees in mind! When it comes to your non-traditional employees, make sure you strongly consider how they best digest and engage with employer communications and develop your strategy around that.

Don’t forget, PerkSpot is here to help! We realize the importance of tailoring a communication strategy explicitly for the employees. That’s why we have a team of account managers dedicated to creating communications that work for your workforce. Click here to learn about what we can do for you.

How to Keep Your Employees Productive During the Summer

As HR professionals, we know how hard it can be to keep employees motivated and productive during the summer months. In fact, Business Insider reported that employee productivity drops as much as 20 percent as spring turns into summer. With the Fourth of July coming up, it’s difficult not to worry about employee motivation dipping even further. Here are three great tips for keeping your employees productive, despite the distraction of summer.

summer productivity

Go Outside

Every office worker knows how hard it can be to sit at their desk while they see the sun shining outside. Let your employees enjoy the nice weather by suggesting managers arrange for outdoor or walking meetings, which gives you a good chance to stretch your legs and feel the sun. If your office location permits, create an outdoor break area, or open the windows and let the fresh air in. Not only does a breath of fresh air improve the productivity of your employees, but studies also report it can help cognitive function, decision making, and overall health!

Set Summer Goals

Summer isn’t a typical time of year to set goals for your employees, but when done right, it can seriously improve motivation throughout the workplace. Putting incentives into place gives employees a good reason to buckle down and remain engaged in their own work. If you want to have more fun with it, look at your company culture and create goals based around that. Here at PerkSpot, we host an annual summer event that gets the employees outside and enjoying the great weather. Plus, all the proceeds that come out of the event are donated to a local charity of our choosing. Each summer, this event allows us to give back to the community, and have fun doing it!

Encourage Vacation Time

Did you know that 64 percent of employees say they feel refreshed and excited to get back to work after a vacation? Not only should you encourage employees to actually use their allotted vacation time, but take it one step further. Remind them of the importance of “logging off” during their vacations – 41 percent of vacation takers say they still check on work while away, which means they aren’t able to fully decompress from the stress that may come with their position. Instead, create a system at your workplace that ensures others can fill in when their coworkers are out on vacation. This can provide a sense of relief for your traveling coworkers, and a better sense of teamwork and togetherness in general.

Summer can be a difficult time for employee productivity, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you can increase motivation among your employees by trying out these easy tips! How do you improve employee productivity during the summer? Let us know!

4 Summer Perks Your Employees Want

Temperatures are going up, the sun is coming out, and we can officially say that summer is on its way in! As the season changes, you might be thinking about how you can implement a few summer perks that employees can enjoy during these extra hot months of the year. Here are 4 suggestions for ways you can bring the sunshine into your office this summer!
summer perks

Flexible Hours

We know summer is a popular time for family vacations and long weekends. So, offering a perk like flexible hours is sure to be a hit among employees. Fortunately, there are several varying levels of flexibility you can try out to see which fits your company culture best. Start by offering more work from home options. That way, employees can still get their work done, but they have the option to do so in the comfort of their own home, or maybe at a sunny cafe if the weather allows it! Another popular method of implementing more flexibility is Summer Fridays. Companies can offer half or full days off each Friday. This keeps employees productive and engaged, while still creating a more flexible schedule if they choose.

Summer Outings

While we firmly believe in fun company outings all year round, summer is an especially good time to get your employees together for some out-of-the-office bonding! Whether you’re rooting on your favorite hometown baseball team, cheers-ing to a great week at a fun bar or restaurant, or hosting a company-wide picnic, outings like these are a great way to reward your employees for their hard work.

Wellness Challenges

Healthier habits tend to ramp up more in the warmer months. Encourage your employees to develop a healthier lifestyle with wellness initiatives that reward them for regular exercise. For example, we just wrapped up a May gym challenge here at PerkSpot that encouraged employees to workout twice a week for at least twenty minutes, doing any exercise they felt comfortable with! As a reward, each employee who completed the challenge got $100 to put toward new or improved gym equipment. We’ll follow that with a bike-to-work challenge in June, complete with prizes donated by local bicycle shop, Kozy Cyclery. Challenges like these give employees a great incentive to get active, plus create a sense of friendly competition and camaraderie among coworkers.

Casual Dress

As the temperatures climb, it feels more difficult to put on the stifling blazer and slacks your company might require. Try adopting a more lax dress policy that makes it easier for your employees to dress for the weather. Create and enforce specific guidelines that you’ve decided on ahead of time. This can include things like no bare shoulders, appropriate length shorts and dresses, or no open-toed shoes. Consider your company as you create this summer dress policy to ensure that it fits with your culture, while still benefiting your employees.

A Guide to Setting Your Remote Employees Up for Success

In 2005, 1.8 million US employees said they telecommuted for at least half of their scheduled working hours. The same study said in ten years, that number increased by 115%. That’s almost 4 million American workers who report telecommuting for work at some point in their week! The trend has only continued to grow, and there’s no reason to assume it will be going away soon. If you’re currently hiring, onboarding, or working with remote employees, here are some tips to set them up for success!remote employee

During the Interview

Ask the Right Questions

Hiring for an employee that will work remotely is vastly different from hiring an employee who spends all of their time in the office. Because of this, you’ll need to look for different qualities and characteristics than you would with an in-office employee. For example, remote employees should be highly self-motivated and remain engaged and productive, despite the lack of an office setting. During a prospective employee’s interview, make sure to ask questions that reveal those qualities, such as past successes during a remote work experience that demonstrates the employee has the ability to stay focused. If you know this position works closely with other employees in a team, ask how they stay communicative with fellow teammates even though they aren’t working in the same office space. Questions like these not only help you better understand the candidate and their working style, but it can also help prepare them for the position and what it entails.

Clearly Communicate Expectations

Candidates interviewing for a remote position often have prior experience working remotely. However, that doesn’t mean the standards in place with their last job were the same as the standards you set. During the final stages of an interview process, ensure that you clearly communicate what you expect from the employee. This could concern hours they work, tasks they complete, or something else entirely. Make sure they feel confident in their ability to fill this role to the best of their ability. They can’t feel completely confident without knowing everything that it entails, so it’s your responsibility to keep them informed.

During Onboarding

Ensure Proper Tech Requirements

Technology is one of the most important components in preparing for a remote worker. There are a number of different technological requirements that need to be acquired to set up a remote employee for success. After all, it’s impossible for them to properly communicate with their team and manager if they don’t have access to reliable internet, but this is only the beginning. Typically, companies will also want to invest in a shared file system (like Google Drive), a communication platform (like Slack), and a video conferencing application (like Skype) to ensure good communication among in-office and remote employees.

Design a Check-In Calendar

When you onboard your new employee, sit down and design a check-in plan that works for both of you. In the beginning, more frequent check-ins, like once a week, are recommended. After the employee settles into his or her role, decrease this to once every two weeks or once a month. During check-ins, ask questions about their current projects and challenges they are facing, but also remember to create a space for personal interaction. Remote employees still have a desire for the camaraderie that occurs more naturally in office atmospheres.

Beyond Onboarding

Create Face-to-Face Opportunities

21% of remote workers cited loneliness as their biggest problem. One of the best ways to combat this is by scheduling recurring face-to-face opportunities to meet with your remote workers in person. Some companies will designate regular “in the office” days in which all employees come in, perhaps for a team gathering or an all-company meeting. Others will schedule a monthly lunch or coffee date where an employee and his or her manager can meet to discuss the past month and plan important projects and deadlines that will come up in the future month.

Keep Up Communication

As an HR professional, good communication with employees should always be something that’s at the forefront of your mind. With remote employees, this is even more important. A remote employee can’t stop at your desk and chat about a question or concern that’s on their mind. They rely on other communication methods, like email or Slack, to discuss important topics. That being said, make sure to monitor those platforms closely and respond timely to your remote workforce. That way, they know don’t feel ignored or pushed to the wayside.

Research says remote workers actually tend to be more productive in their flexible schedules. However, with all that freedom comes some challenges as well. As an HR professional, take these steps to make sure you’re helping your remote employees avoid those pitfalls and instead, set them up for success!

Is March Madness the Morale Boost Your Office Needs?

If your office is anything like ours, then the topics of busted brackets and buzzer beaters have probably taken over. That’s right – It’s March Madness!march madness
It’s a popular myth that March Madness is a productivity killer for office places, but a large majority of employees said they didn’t believe they were any less productive during the three weeks of beloved basketball games. Plus, we learned last year that we can actually learn a lot of lessons from the tournament, like a sense of teamwork and pride in one’s accomplishments. But what if we told you there’s a way to make March Madness a morale booster at your office? It’s possible, and all you have to do is follow these 3 simple steps.

1. Wear Team Apparel

Everyone’s got their favorite team they love to root for (or against). Encourage employees to show their colors during the tournament. Maybe it’s your alma mater, the school you rooted for as a young child, or maybe you just really love the mascot – we’re looking at you, Peter the Anteater. No matter what you wear, this is a great way for employees to get a glimpse of a more personal side of one another that isn’t always seen in the office. Plus, it can inspire conversation among employees who might usually not interact as often. After all, nothing brings people together like their shared love (or hate) for a team.

2. Host a Competition

There’s nothing better than a little bit of friendly competition throughout the office, so consider creating a competition that employees can participate in. Fun ideas like a bracket or office pool that’s open to the entire company can garner lots of excitement. Not to mention, 89% of employees said taking part in a competition like this makes them more excited about coming to work each day. Before you get too far, be sure that any competition you manage in the office abides by all state and federal laws, as well as your own company policy. Avoid monetary prizes and sweeten the pot in other ways. Office swag, a paid lunch, and of course, bragging rights until next year are all great prizes!

3. Organize an Activity

As much as we don’t want to admit it, March Madness might mean an employee spends a few minutes each day checking the scores or following a game here or there. But there’s also a great opportunity with an event like this to drum up a sense of camaraderie among employees. Try organizing an activity or two outside of the office that brings all the employees together and gives them a chance to bond over something other than work. This can create stronger relationships between coworkers, which in turn leads to better engagement and productivity in employees.

Dealing with the event of March Madness can be a struggle for HR professionals. It’s a delicate balance between creating an enjoyable work environment for employees while also making sure their work gets done. But it’s also a fantastic opportunity to boost morale, productivity, and engagement. Give this guide a try and bring the madness to your office this year!

2019: What’s In and What’s Out

As we cross off another day on our calendar and inch closer to the end of the month (and year!), we’re taking some time to look back on 2018 and beginning to prepare for 2019. We saw quite a bit of change this year in the HR world. A new year means new trends we can use to guide our projects and plans in the workplace. Check out some of the trends we’ll take with us from 2018 and the ones we’ll leave behind.

Leave: Employee Engagement

Take: Employee Experience

In 2018, we spent hours developing programs and testing approaches for engaging our employees – and for good reason. A study found that companies with highly engaged employees outperform their lesser engaged counterparts by 202 percent! We know that engagement is a vital part of productivity for our employees, but in 2019, we’re kicking it up a notch. Engagement should be only one element of a larger concept: the employee experience. This is not just engagement levels, but how companies do culture, benefits, dynamics among employees, and rewards and recognition. (Hint, hint, we can help with that one!) In a year where the employee has the control, create a fantastic employee experience for them and you’ll see the reward.

Leave: Physical Wellness Programs

Take: Holistic Wellness Programs

Any type of wellness program you’ve created for an employee will be appreciated, but in 2019, we’re leaving wellness programs specifically for the body behind. Instead, we’re replacing them with a more holistic approach, which gives equal mention to mental, physical and financial wellness, all of which are vital to creating a wholly healthy employee. To do so, have some meaningful conversations with your employees. Take time to understand what they want out of a wellness program and commit time and effort to find the ways you can fulfill their requests.

Leave: 9-5 Schedule

Take: Flexible Schedule

The 9-to-5 schedule trend has been on its way out for a long time, but in 2019, we’re giving it the final boot. As we ring the new year in, we’re saying hello to flexible schedules, a trend which is here to stay. This means giving new mothers and fathers the time off that they need to welcome their little ones to the world, and then recuperate from doing so. It means creating work-from-home opportunities for those who prefer to work from the couch every once in a while. It means being flexible and adaptable to your employees’ needs, which in turn can reduce turnover, absenteeism, and tardiness for the employer! According to a 2018 Global Talent Trends study, 71% of thriving employees say their employers offer a flexible work schedule. In 2019, expect this number to rise. (And make sure you’re one of those employers!)

Leave: Culture Fit

Take: Culture Add

In 2018, we talked a lot about company culture. What it is, how to create and improve it, and how to find employees that fit into it. In 2019, we’re not worrying about employees that are a culture fit; instead, we’re focusing on finding employees who add to our culture. It’s natural to feel an inclination towards those who are similar to us. However, in only hiring employees who fit into an already established culture, we lose the opportunity to diversify and evolve our culture. A better workplace seeks out employees who can bring along new ideas and beliefs that will stand to enhance a company’s culture. Doing so will a unique viewpoint that wouldn’t have been present otherwise. Keep this in mind in 2019 as you begin the recruitment and hiring process!

2018 was a great year – we opened our minds to new ideas and possibilities in the HR landscape, and they paid off. It’s time to close the books on this year and begin preparing for the next. Make sure to take these new trends with you, and it’ll be another successful year!