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The Importance of Pride Month in the Workplace

 

Pride Month is a time for LGBTQ+ communities and allies to come together to celebrate the freedom to be yourself. With decades of struggles with prejudice and acceptance, this month is crucial. It is a time when cities hold parades, celebrations, rallies, parties, workshops, and much more to recognize the fight for equality. As important as it is to celebrate Pride Month outside of work, it’s just as important to celebrate this monumental month in the workplace. We’ve gathered a few different ways you can raise your rainbow flag and join the movement today. 

A Brief History

In 1969, police stormed into the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwhich Village, New York. Customers were being removed from the bar but tensions quickly rose. Patrons began resisting arrest and bystanders started throwing bottles and coins at the officers. Following the incident, the gay community was fed up after decades of harassment and took to the streets to riot for three days straight. After the riots, the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance were formed. One year later, the nation’s first Gay Pride parades were held. 

Why Celebrate? 

There are many reasons why diversity is important in the workplace. A few include differing perspectives, new ideas, improved creativity, and better problem-solving. As the leaders in your organization, it’s critical to showcase the stories that make people unique and celebrate the diverse voices throughout the company. It is important to remember that the first Pride was not a celebration, it was a riot led by queer people of color. 

How To Recognize In The Workplace

There are plenty of ways to show your allyship and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in your workplace, whether you’re remote or in-person. A few of our favorites are below! 

Support LGBTQ+ Causes 

There are dozens of different organizations and causes you can donate to. It’s important to mention, it doesn’t have to be a monetary donation. Donating your time, voice, and energy is just as important! 

Update Your Company Branding 

Businesses around the world have shown their allyship in different ways. For example, you can update your Zoom background, add your pronouns to your email signature and LinkedIn page, and send out some pride swag for your employees to show off. 

Educate Your Employees 

A lot of employees are familiar with Pride Month, but they may not know the history behind it. Use this month to sit down with your teammates for an open discussion or provide resources for employees. 

Pride Month is a time to celebrate how far we have come with LGBTQ+ rights, but it’s also a time to continue to fight for equality and recognize the struggles the community has faced. This month, take the time to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of the gay rights movement and the brave LGBTQ+ advocates and allies standing up for equality. 

Additional Resources: 

3 Simmering Ways to Make this Summer Special

With temperatures rising and flowers once more in bloom, we’re all breathing a sigh of relief as we finally head out of winter. But it might be a surprise that Summer is just around the corner! Dust off that company grill and get a head start on summer plans at the office with these three tips from PerkSpot!

Sunglasses on Summer Sand

 

1) Normalize Vacations for your Employees this Summer Break!

What would Summer be without Summer Break? Remind your employees that it’s getting close to the best time of the year to kick back and take a break. Encouraging regular vacations is an excellent way of sponsoring a positive culture!

The warm weather is perfect for finally making use of saved-up PTO, so encourage employees to use their time off and managers to lead by example. If you do, you’ll see a healthier and happier workforce – especially with a discount program to help employees save on all their vacation needs! Travel and vacations are one area where PerkSpot can help employees save armloads. With savings on everything from the flight to the hotel to the restaurants, PerkSpot can make vacations stress-free. If you’re interested in hearing more of the benefits PerkSpot can offer to employees, sign up for a demo today!

 

2) Use the warm weather to encourage wellness initiatives!

Healthy employees are happy and productive employees – it’s no surprise that physically and mentaly healthy employees call in sick less and show improvements in both focus and productivity. So why not introduce some health and wellness programs now that it’s finally feeling good to get outside? Biking is a fun and healthy way to see the local neighborhood and even city in a whole new way. Why not take steps to encourage it as the weather warms up?

Try setting up a bike-to-work challenge, for instance! Offer employees rewards for taking healthy transportation options rather than car or bus. For remote workers, virtual meditation sessions or community exercise (yoga or pilates are perfect) can be a great way to encourage employees to get moving! By starting positive health initiatives during this summer, you can help fuel healthy living year-round in employees.  Healthy employees are happy employees, and you’ll see productivity  boons as a result!

 

3) Focus on building a community with regular Summer events!

Ultimately, you want your work environment to feel like a community. Warming temperatures mean the perfect time for challenge courses or outdoor barbeques! While in-person events can be a great bonding experience, always be sure to consider your remote teams as well. Incorporate regular virtual events into the calendar, so those working from home can be part of your company culture! From trivia nights to beach parties, there’s no shortage of community events that can spice up your schedule.

Planning summer socials can help bring your whole organization together, and create a feeling of solidarity between teams; not to mention how much fun you can have with it!  Hosting regular social gatherings, including virtual events, makes it much easier to maintain morale, especially amongst extra-motivated employees. Help cultivate a positive company culture while strengthening morale with some new event series this Summer!

This Summer is the perfect time to spice up your workplace with new events, healthy habits, and light-hearted socials. These help HR departments foster satisfied employees at both the enterprise and team level! With new social programs, encouraged vacations and an authentically upbeat attitude this summer, you can reduce turnover and encourage employee loyalty through the simplest means possible – making your organization an amazing place to work.

How To Prioritize Mental Health In The Workplace

Mental health is an incredibly important part of our overall health that unfortunately is commonly overlooked. In recent years, stresses from the pandemic, inflation, along with many other contributing factors have led to further deterioration. To recognize Mental Health Awareness Month, we have gathered different ways you can prioritize the health of your employees this month and beyond.

Ensure Employees Are Taking Time Away From Work

In 2021, Americans took the fewest number of PTO days out of everyone on the planet. In 2019, research conducted by the U.S. Travel Association found that 55% of Americans did not use all of their paid time off. So why are people leaving vacation on the table and letting their health suffer from burnout? Vacation guilt and worries about work are common reasons. It’s crucial that employees are given the needed time to unplug and recharge, and a lack thereof can be detrimental to their overall health. Encourage paid time off and ensure employees are fully disconnected while out of office. 

Train Your Leaders To Help

It’s important to increase awareness so people in the workplace can notice when a coworker is struggling with their mental health. Offering managers the opportunity to attend trainings focused on the subject equips them with the skills to support those with mental illness as well as help the well-being of the rest of their teammates. Each illness is different and it’s important that managers approach each employee as an individual. 

Provide Mental Health Benefits 

Mercer’s 2021 Health on Demand Report found that of 14,000 employees across 13 countries, 44% of employees, who didn’t have access to mental health benefits, felt unsupported by their employers. Benefits can include a wide range of offerings, from weekly meditation to discounts on therapy sessions. It’s important to provide a tiered benefit program that offers a variety of different options that can benefit each individual’s unique needs. 

Fight The Stigma 

A stigma causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control. There are plenty of ways to fight the mental health stigma, including open communication, education, compassion, along with many others.  In addition to providing options, it’s important to communicate with your employees the different opportunities available and offer a safe space for discussion. Let your employees know the importance in your workplace and encourage open communication. 

The mental health of your employees is more important now than ever. This month, take the necessary steps to support, recognize, and positively impact the mental health of your employees. They will thank you! 

Mental Health Resources: 

SAMHSA’s National Helpline 

Help For Mental Illnesses

Faith & Spirituality Also An Important Part Of Workplace Inclusion

A unique calendar alignment has occurred this year that only takes place approximately every 33 years. Easter, Passover, and Ramadan have overlapped, bringing a convergence of reflections for these communities. To recognize this, the PerkSpot team came together to discuss. The focus was around how faith & spirituality influences who we are and how we work. Our conversations included personal stories and breakout sessions. Both designed to unlock conversation on a topic that is often ignored or overlooked in our workplaces. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

Discussing faith and spirituality can be a daunting and sensitive topic. Our beliefs are a core part of our identity and employees feeling excluded or unrecognized can be detrimental. Faith & spirituality, whether observed or not, is often highly influential in informing who we are, the choices we make, the way we interact, our aspirations, and our values. When considering DEI efforts, we think you should find opportunities to affirm the important role that faith plays in how your employees contribute in the workplace.

Recognize Your Employees Beliefs 

It’s important to recognize and offer time away to practice each individual’s traditions and practices. Offering an open vacation policy or flexible scheduling allows employees to take the time to fully immerse in their practices. 

Nadir Mian, Graphic Designer at PerkSpot, shared, “At companies with a designated limit to PTO, some people have to use their vacation for their religious holidays whereas others have time off for their religious holidays built into their schedule. Although accommodating for every religious holiday may not be feasible, extra days on top of the allotted PTO time should be available to those who witness religious holidays that don’t fall under the traditional corporate holiday schedule.”

Another way to recognize your employees is by holding company-wide events or smaller breakout groups. It allows the opportunity to reflect, discuss, and participate in sharing personal stories when comfortable. We don’t advocate discussions that compare or contrast belief systems. But rather, allow employees to share how faith has influenced who they are, their life experiences, and what’s important to them.

We encourage you to use this unique overlap of traditions as a reminder to recognize your employees’ differences in beliefs. Offer a safe, open working space that allows for exploration and recognition.

Dealing with Burnout as an HR Professional

In today’s competitive candidate market, life as an HR professional has never been quite so exhausting. Being forced to chase after candidates in the age of work from home and tremendous employee freedom has meant a difficult balancing act between providing appealing, top-quality benefits, managing cost efficiency, and negotiating employee concerns – all while dealing with the fallout of a global pandemic. It’s no wonder that burnout is skyrocketing at HR departments all over the country – but there is a better way. And with World Health Day officially starting today on April 7th, there’s never been a better time to help your department get physically and mentally healthy!

Burnout Business Woman Overwhelmed

42% of Human Resources teams report feeling overburdened with projects and responsibilities. And on one hand, this is something that should be taken up with management; when HR teams are simply too small or too overworked, there needs to be discussion about expanding Human Resources or offloading responsibilities. But a second, equally important aspect of this equation is learning to deal with burnout individually. And for that, we should first understand what “burnout” really means.

When we talk about burnout, we’re talking about the feelings of dread and exhaustion that rise up when we’re forced to do demanding, repetitive work. It’s the sense of doing tasks purely out of obligation, no longer believing they have any real impact. And the first step in re-gaining your passion is to re-gain control over your schedule.

Set Boundaries

The first step of assessing burnout is setting boundaries. It’s important both personally and professionally to be able to step away from work communications; for instance, turning off Slack and email past six-o-clock. Sticking to a routine that clearly separates work from life is fundamental to having a good work-life balance. Even if you’re on-call for emergencies, emergency should never mean every night, and if they are, then that’s a conversation you need to have with management.

Build Strong Communication Habits

Fostering good communication with management and the executive team at your workplace is another important aspect of managing burnout. That’s because burnout isn’t all about stress, but also lacking a sense of agency and value in what you do. When you feel you’re doing “meaningless” work, or don’t have control over your own schedule, burnout is far more intense. Prioritizing valuable work and setting firm boundaries on your own schedule is often a necessary step in managing burnout.

Break your Routines

More than boundaries, you’ll also want to start breaking your routines. While routines can provide a comforting sense of normalcy in our lives, they can also become trapping. If you notice you’re performing the same tasks in the same way over and over again, then it’s time to find something new. Maybe it’s as simple as switching up your morning routine, maybe it’s taking a new route around town, or maybe it’s shifting into a new aspect of your department’s operations.

Discover Personal Stress Management Solutions

Finally, there’s the most traditional (but still very important!) part of dealing with burnout – personal stress management. Exercise and meditation are the two most common methods, but it’s important to find what works for you; whether it’s walking your dog, paddling down canoe trails, or simply taking five dedicated minutes to focus. By understanding your stress and mentally moving on, you can take control back from your emotions.

Properly managing burnout requires breaking negative feedback loops, getting excited about work, and learning to manage stress. While that’ll require a lot of personal initiative, there are some tools that can help manage burnout stress.

One area you can cut down on stressful micromanagement is with PerkSpot’s single stop benefits platform, which offers countless diverse benefits for your diverse employees. With a suite of discounts at their fingertips, PerkSpot provides employees with the resources they need to cope with stress and burnout – whether it’s deals on ergonomic office chairs and gym memberships or complete getaway vacations to exotic destinations at a discount, schedule a demo today to learn more about the ways that PerkSpot can be a powerful burnout-burning resource for your organization this World Health Day. 

4 Ways to Help Employees Stay Grounded This Winter

The winter months often are accompanied by decreased motivation, a lull in energy, and a lot less sunshine. During this season, it’s crucial to keep employees’ wellness at the forefront and provide opportunities to increase morale. Below are easy to implement, meaningful opportunities to help your employees stay grounded this winter.

Winter, Employee Wellness

 

Encourage Incorporating Movement Into Every Day

Staying active in the cooler months can be a daunting task. Luckily, there are plenty of options available to promote adding movement into your employees’ daily routine. For example, movement can be as simple as taking breaks from your desk or as complex as structuring a cycling class into each day. According to LiveStrong, one way that exercise can help boost productivity at work is through alertness. When you exercise, you are also increasing blood flow to the brain, which can help sharpen your awareness and make you more ready to tackle your next big project. With PerkSpot, employees have access to exclusive perks geared toward a variety of fitness activities that can assist in achieving movement.

Support Employees Taking Advantage of Time Off

What better time to plan ahead than during the winter season! Encourage your employees to leverage their time off benefits and spend time away from their daily work routine. Time off can range from a day here and there to a week-long vacation. Either way, time away will play a positive role in helping employees avoid burnout. In addition, having something to look forward to oftentimes will also boost your employees’ morale and keep motivation steady. 

Prioritize Downtime 

It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle of everyday life. Downtime during the workday provides employees the necessary time to reflect and come back to tasks with an open mind. Prioritizing employees’ downtime can include things like implementing meeting-free hours, encouraging lunch breaks, or promoting adding pauses directly to their calendar. Psychology Today found that taking breaks refreshes the mind, replenishes your mental resources, and helps you become more creative. Taking the necessary downtime to refresh and regroup is a critical factor for staying grounded this winter. 

Inspire Employees to Invest In a New Hobby 

With less activities taking place during the winter months, it’s still a good time for investing in a new hobby. Some examples of ways to inspire hobbies virtually or in-person in the workplace include: hosting a monthly book club, gathering for a routine meditation class, bringing teammates together for a cooking competition, amongst many others. A discount program through PerkSpot makes finding new hobbies to enjoy together simple, with categorized savings from Home & Garden to Outdoors & Recreation. 

This winter, grasp the opportunity to improve your employees’ overall wellness. Not only will staying grounded improve overall health, it will lead to an increase in determination, improved wellbeing, and a happier team. 

Check out more of the perks that PerkSpot has available for your employees. Let’s work together to beat the winter blues!

Well-being Over Wellness

Pushing for healthy snacks and fitness programs is no longer the only focus for wellness initiatives. Well-being is the new buzzword for the workplace. It encompasses more than just fad diets or workout regimes. Instead, it looks to serve the whole person. Mental health awareness has gained increasing popularity over the years. As a result, the onus it has placed on employers is becoming more and more evident. A better workplace in 2021 and beyond is one that fosters health not only for the body but the mind as well.

If you want to learn more about what it takes to build a better place to work, download our free e-book!

7 Steps for Returning to Your Office After COVID-19

After months of getting accustomed to remote working, many companies are now beginning to consider how they will return to the office, while still keeping their workforce safe and healthy. We outlined 7 basic steps to take that can help you develop a plan for a post-COVID-19 workplace.

1. Create a Team

Getting started on a plan of attack? To understand the needs of your employees, you should enlist the help of those who know them best! Start a team that includes leadership, as well as employees from your human resources, technology, legal, and operations departments. Include employees from other departments as well. They can offer fresh insight into the general concerns and needs of employees planning to return to the office. This team will be instrumental in developing the guidelines and policies you put in place for your office’s return—but more on that in step 3!

2. Ensure a Safe and Clean Office to Return To

As we all know, hygiene is a top priority as we consider how to return to the office. Make sure there are no concerns about your office’s initial cleanliness. Bring in a professional team of cleaners who know the best way to rid your office of the germs left there and armed with the right tools to do so. If you have cleaners regularly come to your workplace, it might be prudent to increase the cadence of their cleaning, as well as which areas they’re focusing on. For example, regularly disinfect individual employees’ desks, as well as common areas employees congregate in for lunch, breaks, or meetings. To learn more about properly cleaning and disinfecting your workplace, check out these recommendations by the CDC.

3. Develop and Enforce Strict Hygiene Standards

So, your office is sparkling clean, and you’ve got a team brainstorming methods for helping employees return to the office. It’’s time to start thinking about what rules you want to create and enforce. This may vary from workplace to workplace. However, guidelines like washing hands properly, using hand sanitizer, taking employees’ temperatures daily and logging them, creating a flow for moving throughout the office, and adding distance between employees’ workstations are great places to start. Communicate with managers that they should practice these guidelines well, to act as an example for others. Be sure to communicate the rules your team creates often and in multiple places. A slack channel, intranet forum, or the like dedicated to returning to the office, signage on the walls of common areas and employee restrooms, and a company-wide email that compiles all of the new practices are the perfect way to kick off communications.

4. Update Your Handbook and Other Documented Policies

After your team finalizes and implements the rules adhering to your office’s new hygiene standards, be sure you document it properly by updating your handbook, as well as any other documentation where important policies are kept. This way, both HR and employees have a point of reference for the new guidelines. This makes it easier to uphold and follow them. When updating these, consider a response plan for employees who suspect they have or have come into contact with someone who has had COVID-19, as well as the possibility of changing your sick leave and your remote working policy, either temporarily or permanently, to account for those employees. Once you update, communicate it with employees and encourage them to read through the new policies carefully!

5. Seek Out Ways to Keep Up Employee Morale and Company Culture

Amidst all of your planning and preparations for returning to your office, it’s important you keep in mind employee morale and your company’s culture, two things that are vital to a satisfied workforce. You may not be able to carry on with your normal team outings or weekly happy hours. However, there are still ways to incorporate employee morale and culture into your return! For example, offer a service (or a discount for one!) that provides employees who struggled during quarantine mental health support. Encourage employees to stay social with their coworkers, albeit from a small distance. Continue to host virtual hangouts or happy hours if you were doing so during quarantine. Additionally, offering recognition for employees’ hard work is a known way to improve morale, and monetary recognition can be especially helpful for those employees who were financially impacted by the pandemic.

6. Continue Monitoring and Approving

You know what they say: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” This holds true for your plans to return to the office as well! Understand that you’ll never be fully finished in refining the guidelines you put into place for your employees as they transition once again, this time from remote working to being back in their workplace. Create a forum or another type of space for employees to offer feedback. They can report on how they feel the return has gone so far and ideas for improvement and enhancement. Your employees are the ones most impacted by the rules you and your team have created, so it’s crucial that you listen to their responses and work to incorporate them into your new workplace practices.

7. Be Flexible!

This last step is less of a step and more of an attitude that you should always display throughout the course of the return to your workplace. Flexibility will be key in these next few months as you work with employees who may not feel comfortable returning to work this early, who may have conditions that prevent them from doing so, or ones who are excited to return but have responsibilities like childcare or older family members to address. Offer options like flexible hours or help with childcare, transportation, and other hindrances that keep employees from returning to work.

Returning to the workplace will be no easy task! However, by following these simple steps, you’ll ensure you’ve created a safe and healthy workplace to return to for employees.

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!

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.

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!

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!