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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.

Spring Cleaning Your Employee Handbook

It’s finally springtime, so spring cleaning is probably on your mind. However, you can put back the mop and sponge and place your household chores on the backburner, because we’re talking about a different kind of cleaning. It’s time to break out your employee handbook and evaluate whether it needs some cleaning of its own!
spring cleaning employee handbook
Your employee handbook should be assessed at least once a year and reviewed for any necessary changes. But how can you tell whether your employee handbook is in need of some sprucing up? Here are some common cases in which it’s smart to evaluate your policies:

  • Adding Employees
  • Changing Office Spaces
  • Updating Benefit Plans
  • Remodeling Company Culture

Adding Employees

According to Top Resume, January and February are typically the most popular months for bringing new employees on board. If you just wrapped up your hiring season, it’s time to take a look at your handbook. As your company grows, it’s important to make sure your policies are growing with it. You may be dealing with different employees than you’ve experienced before, like new parents or remote workers, and your handbook should reflect their situations and the code of conduct they should follow, just as it does your full-time, in-office employees.

Changing Office Spaces

Here at PerkSpot, we know a thing or two about this one! As a company that’s recently moved office spaces, we know the time and effort that goes into relocating. But after the dust has settled, take a minute to refresh your employee handbook for the new office. Every office space is unique, so the policies you have in place for employees will most likely be unique as well. At the very least, make sure to include your new location’s address, updated hours, and any other important information employees need to know.

Updating Benefit Plans

When you are dealing with a modification to your company’s benefit plans, you’ll most likely communicate the change with your employees in a number of ways, like email, a company-wide meeting, or in-person communication. But it should still be reflected in an updated employee handbook, so there is always an easy and convenient place employees can look to for any details they’re curious about.

Remodeling Company Culture

Any HR professional knows the importance of culture in their company, and if you’ve recently undertaken an overhaul of your company culture, an update to your employee handbook should follow. This might be an adjustment to your time off policy, dress code, or proper social media usage. Keep in mind, your employee handbook is one of the first things new hires will read about your company, so illustrating your culture properly will start everyone off on the right foot.

The season is changing and your employee handbook might be in need of some changes as well. Even if you’re not dealing with one of these cases, take some time out of your day to evaluate where your company is, and whether your employee handbook appropriately displays that.

How HR Managers Can Improve Gender Diversity at Work

It would come as no shock to most people that there is a substantial amount of gender disparity in the workplace. Unfortunately, the statistics back this up as well.
HR managers support gender diversity

Women are less likely to be hired into entry-level jobs than men, and that number has barely budged for the last four years. Women are even less likely to be hired and promoted into management roles, leaving the pool of women who can be hired or promoted into senior-level positions practically minuscule. But there is one role that can actively participate in shrinking that inequality in the workplace: HR managers.

Here are three ways that HR managers can support women in the workplace.

1. Re-examine hiring tactics
2. Find them a mentor
3. Be an example

1. Re-examine Hiring Tacts

We can begin tackling gender inequality in the workplace at the very beginning, which is the hiring process. So take the time to examine yours. Does your hiring committee include both men and women? Does your job description list traits and qualities that are primarily associated with men? Do you make assumptions about a potential hire based on their name, experience, or large gaps in their resume, which are often due to family-related situations? Checking your biases and making improvements is the first step.

2. Find a Mentor

For employees beginning their career, a mentor who can provide advice and insight is absolutely invaluable. As an HR manager, there’s a good chance that your company already offers a program like this for new hires. When pairing a mentor and mentee, many feel inclined to match based on gender just as much as a similar career path. However, this often leaves female employees out to dry, as the pool for female senior-level employees is much smaller than their male counterparts. Instead, simply seek out employees who you feel will learn from one another and offer each other a unique perspective and guidance.

3. Be an Example

Whether you are a male or female HR manager, make it your responsibility to be an example for fellow coworkers. Give your female colleagues a voice, and let them know you hear and appreciate their opinions. Create a policy that ensures an environment of respect, and make sure each employee upholds that policy. This will allow other employees to feel more comfortable following your lead.

It has been proven time and time again that having a diverse workforce is better for your company’s bottom line. A 2015 study reported that companies with more women board directors had a higher return on equity, sales, and invested capital. A 2016 study confirmed that more women in leadership positions help to advance a firm’s financial performance. And perhaps most telling, 86% of women said they see senior-level positions as more attainable when they see other women already filling them. Take an active role in creating and improving gender diversity in your workplace by trying one of these tips!

What HR Professionals Can Learn from Powerful Women

March is Women’s History Month, so we’re taking a good look at some powerful women – past and present – who can teach us important lessons about how to be the best HR professionals we can be.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg & Ethics

You may know her as Notorious RBG, or that really fit Supreme Court justice, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg is best known for her strong beliefs, which she holds while serving as the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court. When you think about Ginsburg, ethics is one of the first words that should come to mind. Similarly, it’s a quality often associated with HR professionals. Many like to say HR professionals serve as the conscious of their company, and that isn’t far off the mark. It is your responsibility as an HR professional to uphold your company’s values and policies, and to make sure each employee practices them properly – much like Ginsburg does each day she dons her Supreme Court justice robe.

Serena Williams & Confidence

The field of HR is bound to challenge you at many points throughout your career, and there’s one thing you’ll need to get you through it: confidence. That is something Serena Williams knows a thing or two about! Williams is a record-breaking tennis star, mother, and businesswoman, and she is unapologetically proud of all of those accomplishments. But that confidence is something many women struggle with. Yet, as HR professionals, it’s absolutely vital. During the course of your career, you will experience things that will test you. Maybe your company is taking a risk with a new venture, maybe you’ve just accepted an exciting (but scary) promotion, or maybe you’re creating and implementing a brand new program that will shake up how things are run in your workplace. Whatever challenge you’re facing, channel Williams’s inner confidence and believe in yourself and the work you’re doing.

Madeleine Albright & Conflict Management

One of the most important qualities in any position, especially that of an HR manager, is conflict resolution. No one knows this quality better than Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as US Secretary of State. During her tenure, she became a renowned negotiator and conflict manager. To do so, she placed a strong emphasis on putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, a lesson many HR professionals should take to heart. Whether your responsibility is to conduct conflict resolution between two fellow employees or negotiate a specific policy or contract, understand what your peer wants as well. Once you reach this understanding, you can find a solution that satisfies both parties.

Oprah Winfrey & Development

As an HR professional, you should always be seeking out new ways to learn and develop, both for yourself and for your employees. Developing personally and professionally will allow you to continuously grow in your career. Who better to learn this important lesson from than Oprah Winfrey? Born in rural Mississippi, Oprah began co-anchoring the local news in Tennessee at 19 and took a low-rated Chicago talk show to number one by age 29. Two years later, The Oprah Winfrey Show, an hour-long talk show, was being broadcast nationally. But Winfrey never rested – she went on to be an actress, producer, author, and philanthropist. She is the epitome of someone who is never satisfied. Take a page out of Oprah’s book and begin focusing on new ways you can develop yourself!

These women are all incredible examples of people who worked hard each and every day. They are the embodiment of some of the crucial qualities any HR professional should possess. What powerful women inspire you? Leave a comment and let us know!

A Fresh Take on Smart Goal Setting for HR Managers

Have you already set your goals for 2019, either personal or corporate? This year we’re taking a fresh look at goal setting for HR Managers and giving some new tips on making the most of your professional development plans.

We’ll discuss:
• What is Goal Setting?
• Why is Goal Setting Important?
• How to Create Meaningful, Effective Goals

goal setting for hr managers perkspot culture

What is Goal Setting?

Most people think about goal setting in terms of professional success. What am I hoping to achieve and what kind of results do I want? While these are worthwhile questions, author James Clear offers a fresh perspective. He says you should ask yourself one question before setting your goals: “What kind of pain do I want?”.

Clear goes on to say, “It’s easy to sit around and think what we could do or what we’d like to do. It is an entirely different thing to accept the tradeoffs that come with our goals. Everybody wants a gold medal. Few people want to train like an Olympian.” When determining your goals for the upcoming year or quarter, ask yourself what you’re willing to sacrifice.

Why is Goal Setting Important?

Have you ever decided to find your own way to a location only to realize you didn’t actually know where you were going? You step outside and start confidently walking in one direction, but a few minutes later you’re in unfamiliar territory and you’ve walked five blocks in the wrong direction. These moments are frustrating, not only because you now have to retrace your steps, but because by simply taking the time to map your course first, you could have saved yourself a lot of extra time and effort.

This is why goal setting is so important. Without a clear course mapped out in front of you, you might end up wandering aimlessly and struggle to hit your target. Don’t let arrogance or even prior knowledge influence your decision not to set goals. With proper goal planning, you’re more likely to take the most efficient, effective route.

How to Create Meaningful, Effective Goals

Step One: Goal Selection

Inspirational speaker and author, Seth Godin says “You don’t need more time, you just need to decide.” When we think about our ambitions for the year, we don’t always think about the sacrifices we need to make to get there. Often it’s not about choosing to do more, but choosing to do the right things. Make goal selection the first step in your process. Determine what’s realistic for you to accomplish and what you’ll need to give up in order to get there.

Step Two: Make SMART Goals

Unless you’re living under an HR rock, you’ve probably heard of this before. That’s because setting SMART goals is an essential part of making a successful development plan.
Specific – What do you want to accomplish? Who does this include?
Measurable – What metrics will you use to define success and determine when the goal is complete?
Achievable – Do I have the necessary resources to accomplish this goal? What will I need to give up in order to achieve this? Why is this goal important to you?
Relevant – How does this goal align with my overall success or vision? Why am I setting this goal now?
Timely – What is my deadline and is it realistic?

After answering these questions you should be able to articulate your goal and understand what needs to happen in order to achieve it.

Step Three: Take Baby Steps

If you go on to read James Clear’s advice on goal setting, you’ll find tons of great, actionable methods for achieving goals. One of our favorites is to “Stack Your Goals”.

Research has shown that you are 2x to 3x more likely to stick to your goals if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behavior. For example, in one study scientists asked people to fill out this sentence: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].”

We love this advice because it’s such an easy rule to follow but helps break down goals into actionable, everyday elements.

Step Four: Check Your Attitude

Our last step in the goal-setting process isn’t really a step at all. It’s just a gentle reminder to stay positive! Chances are you will get discouraged on your journey. Try writing out your SMART goals and reasons why you’ve chosen to tackle this particular objective. Put it somewhere visible as a tangible reminder. This will help you stay positive and motivated when the going gets tough.

What goals are you setting for this year? Use these tips to make the most of your goal-setting process, either for yourself or your team.

Should HR Make Friends at Work?

Human Resources and friendship have a complicated relationship. If you come from a more corporate environment, you may be thinking that HR professionals should keep employees at arm’s length. On the other hand, a more informal environment like a tech or start-up company may view HR as just another one of the crew. So, what’s the right choice? Should HR make friends at work… and how?

should hr make friends at work

The answer is… there is no one answer that’s right for everyone. At PerkSpot, one of our core values is “We Value People”. Our culture naturally lends itself to a strong sense of community, so for us, the answer is yes. However, we know this may not work for everyone and that’s ok, too.

If you’re an HR professional thinking about embarking on friendships at work, here are three main things to keep in mind:
• Choose Your Friends Wisely
• Don’t Play Favorites
• Know Your Culture

Make Friends, but Make Them Wisely

HR can absolutely make friends at work, but these may not look like the best friends you’ve had all your life. Work friends generally know a little bit about you, but they aren’t the ones you’d call up when something goes terribly wrong. They may even be more of an acquaintance than an actual friend. However, finding someone who shares similar interests, that makes you laugh, and all-in-all makes work more enjoyable is extremely valuable for all employees, and HR is no exception.

Make Friends, but Treat Everyone the Same

One of the dangers HR can run into when having friends at work is being accused of favoritism or bias. It’s important that even if you “click” with someone at work, you treat others fairly and kindly. You should make each employee feel valued in their own way. It’s only natural to connect with some more than others. However, that should never affect how you interact with them professionally.

Make Friends, but Know Your Culture

Every workplace is different so it’s important to know what’s appropriate for your office. At PerkSpot, we are fairly casual so it would be of no surprise to see our head of HR mingling with a beer during our Friday afternoon cheers. This is appropriate because it’s a part of our culture and helps to create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. However, this is unique to PerkSpot and one size definitely does not fit all. Find ways to gain the trust and respect of your coworkers in a way that’s appropriate to your culture.

Do you think HR should make friends at work? We’d love to hear what you think!

The Secret To-Do List Hack To Send Your Productivity Soaring

If your office is anything like ours, then your January is off to a strong start, as well as a busy one! The first month of the year can be a strenuous one for any HR professional – your to-do list is filling faster than you can cross things off. So here are our secrets to productivity you need to adopt if you want to make your January the most productive month yet!

secrets to productivity

The key to your productivity is saying NO.

It might sound strange, but saying no will actually boost your productivity levels, especially when you need it most.

Why you need to say no

It’s natural to say yes to things. You want to be a committed employee with a reputation for helping out fellow colleagues when they’re feeling swamped, or when they want your expert input. But all those yeses will start to add up and put so much pressure on yourself and your list of to do’s that you find yourself unable to accomplish the important things. Instead, focus on time management and prioritization.

How to start saying no

The people pleaser in you is probably feeling a little stressed just thinking about it. But we’re not telling you to exclusively say no, or to do so in a rude or offensive manner. We’re simply reminding you that your time and energy are precious resources, and you should use them wisely. Ask yourself these two questions next time someone asks you to do something for them.

1. Do I have the time?

Is your schedule full of meetings? Planner full of to-dos? Keep in mind, there are only so many hours in a day, and so many days in a week. Filling each and every one of them is neither healthy nor conducive to your productivity. Take a step back and decide whether you have the time for this task.

2. Is it a priority?

Prioritization is one of the most important things to remember when you’re trying to be your most productive. It’s natural to put an easy task on your to-do list, especially since you get the satisfaction of quickly crossing it off – we’re talking simple things like making an appointment or sending an email. But in reality, those small tasks steal away your focus from the larger tasks at hand, and you end up losing time and effort in completing them. Set aside a specific time of day to handle them instead of letting them draw focus and attention from more important tasks.

Saying no to a fellow coworker is hard, and it might not feel natural or comfortable, especially in the beginning. But your time and energy are just as important as those who are asking for your help. Trust us – your productivity will thank you!

Why Managing Isn’t Necessarily Leading

If you’ve been in the workplace for a decent amount of time, you’ve probably noticed that all managers are not necessarily leaders. In fact, sometimes the strongest leaders in the office are not in management at all. Why is that? What are these hidden characteristics that define leaders versus managers?
HR leaders and managers

These are the five ways managers are different than leaders:

1. Leaders inspire others with vision.
2. Leaders practice humility.
3. Leaders trust others to carry out tasks to completion.
4. Leaders are confident, but not overbearing.
5. Leaders think larger than their own point of view.

1. Vision

One differentiating factor between a manager and a leader is that leaders inspire others with their vision. Management requires only that you mandate tasks and ensure that your team is completing them quickly and efficiently. Leadership, on the other hand, means you inspire others to think beyond the task at hand and focus on the overall mission. They inspire employees not just to do the work, but to love it by casting vision passionately and articulately.

2. Humility

Quite possibly the most important trait of a strong leader is humility. That’s why it’s one of our core values here at PerkSpot. We believe a great workplace cannot exist without it. The strongest leaders are ones who aren’t afraid to admit when they’re wrong. They possess the humility to share the spotlight with others, recognizing their achievements and pushing them to be the best version of themselves.

3. Trust

It’s 2019. No one micromanages anymore, right? Unfortunately, micromanagement is still alive and well in our workplaces. Leaders, on the contrary, do not micromanage. True leadership means trusting others to carry out responsibilities. In fact, the best workplaces are those which empower employees to use their strengths. Even the best leaders can’t be good at everything. That’s why it’s important to build a strong team around you and trust them to work together towards your mission.

4. Confidence

Confidence is a common trait among leaders, but not every assertive person in the workplace is a great leader. Any manager can be confident, but leaders are careful not to exhort their confidence over people. Instead, they speak their mind while also listening to other opinions. This trait goes hand in hand with humility, as it takes the perfect balance of both to create great leaders.

5. Perspective

Many managers get lost in their own personal point of view, or even their team’s. Great leaders are able to step outside of their own agendas and look at the greater good. They are able to (confidently and humbly) unify everyone towards a common goal. This is perhaps the most difficult trait to learn, but it’s what truly differentiates a manager from a leader.

Do you manage a team or are you working on your leadership skills? Tell us what you think makes a great leader in the comments.

5 Tips for Creating the Best Employee Surveys

There are endless benefits to creating an employee survey to understand satisfaction levels throughout your workplace.
employee survey tips
A survey allows you to discuss employee benefit plans, improve satisfaction and productivity, and increase employee retention rates. An employee survey can make an employee feel as though they are being given the opportunity to voice their opinion, and that you, as an HR professional, care about what they have to say. Here are five tips for getting the best results from your employee surveys!

Communicate and Encourage

An employee survey won’t be successful if it’s just an email sent to employees’ inboxes, without an introduction or explanation. Use your company’s communication channel to inform employees about the upcoming survey. Furthermore, impress upon employees that their responses will be valuable in helping to effect change within the company. Pre-survey communication will guarantee much higher numbers of participation, according to numerous studies.

Emphasize Anonymity

In conducting your employee survey, you want the most honest responses from employees. The only way to receive them is through an anonymous survey. Your employees may not feel comfortable openly sharing their opinions for fear of backlash. Not to mention, an anonymous survey puts all employees on a level playing field. With anonymity, no employee feels uncomfortable because of their age or position in the company. This means they will be more likely to offer opinions and suggestions for improvement. In reviewing responses, there is no bias coming from your end, so the results are more reliable. It’s a win-win!

Make it Easy

Your employees have a lot on their plates, so motivating them to complete a survey can be difficult. Keep this in mind when writing your survey. Don’t make it unnecessarily long – the whole point isn’t to distract employees or keep them from completing other work. The National Business Research Institute says 60 questions is the perfect length for your survey. Not so long that employees feel tired or bored, but long enough to give you the answers you’re looking for!

Ask the Right Questions

Make your questions simple. According to Inc., it’s a lot easier for an employee to answer a close-ended question versus long-form, written responses. Providing close-ended or multiple choice options makes quantifying results easier for you as well! Make your questions clear and understandable. Have a fellow colleague take a look at your survey and review it for readability. Another set of eyes is always a good idea, and it will ensure you have created the best survey for your employees.

Use the Results

A Forbes article reported a 30-40% average response rate for employee surveys. One of the main causes of this disappointing statistic? Employees believe that their responses won’t be considered or utilized to execute changes in their workplace. Reverse that belief by using employees’ feedback to make actual changes where you can. Share the results of the survey and any plans you may have developed for the future. This is a great way of showing employees that you’re taking their thoughts into account, and it will increase the response rate for later surveys.

An employee survey can give you insight into employee engagement, office culture, and job satisfaction among employees. Use these 5 tips to create an employee survey that is sure to deliver the best results!

4 Helpful Tools for the Best Open Enrollment Season

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are falling, the temps are dropping, and… you guessed it, open enrollment is here!

open enrollment tools

Open enrollment is one of the most important seasons for human resources professionals, as they seek to communicate changes to health care and retirement plans. This communication must be clear, concise and appropriate for your culture. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to HR communication strategies, we’re sharing four helpful tools to help you communicate better this year.

4 Helpful Tools for Open Enrollment:

Quiz

One of the most clever ways to promote open enrollment in your office is an interactive quiz. Ask various questions about an employee’s wants and needs to direct them to a plan that is best suited for them. We love this idea because it makes open enrollment easy to digest for the employee and gives them actionable steps to take.

Chat Bots

Chatbots are also a great piece of technology that you can use to your advantage during the open enrollment season. Set up a chatbot to ask frequently asked questions like, “What is a deductible?”, “Is my spouse covered under this plan?”, and “What is my premium?”.

Videos

Many human resources professionals are utilizing videos to introduce high-level changes throughout their organization. Think about it. Which would you rather do? Read a long and confusing 5-page document, or watch a 5-minute video? Video is an increasingly popular medium for disseminating information, so why should open enrollment be any different?

People

While technology is invaluable, there is also a time and a place for people to come into the mix. Make sure managers are meeting with their team one-on-one to answer any questions. Provide training so they know how to answer any concerns employees might have, and make sure your HR team is available and willing to help. You may also be able to bring in your insurance broker to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you!

What tools are you utilizing during open enrollment and how have you found success in the past? Share with us in the comments.