The Returnship

Have you seen the movie, “The Intern”? You know the one. Robert DeNiro comes out of retirement to work for a thriving start-up in the fashion industry run by Anne Hathaway. Funny, heart-warming, and inspiring, it’s a film that not only highlights the new “Lean In” culture with corporate feminism at its core, but also focuses on the generational gap that exists between DeNiro and his fellow co-workers. Returning to the workforce after a tech boom caused DeNiro’s character to face many new obstacles he might not have anticipated.

returnship

Don’t worry. We’re not writing a film review here. But “The Intern” got us thinking about this relatively new trend called the “Returnship”.

“Returnship” was a phrase coined by Goldman Sachs in 2008 when they developed an onboarding program specifically designed for people who had taken a break from the workforce, either to raise kids, serve in the military, or just simply, to take a break and reevaluate. Similar to an internship, their purpose in this program was to sharpen skills that they may not realize they need after taking an extended time off and to help these employees land a job, either at their firm or elsewhere.

But Goldman Sachs isn’t the only firm providing this service. In fact, you can find returnships from many other companies such as Deloitte, PwC, Ford, Johnson&Johnson and more!

If you’re thinking about a Returnship or offering the program to your employees, here are a couple of the benefits you can find:

Returnships Provide Tech Training

Technology is constantly changing. Whether you’ve taken 2 years off or 10 years off, chances are you have a few things to catch up on. By participating in a Returnship program, you have an opportunity to sharpen your skills, without neglecting your job responsibilities. Returnships can provide the support and training needed to do the job successfully: a win-win for both employees and employers.

Returnships Provide Equal Opportunity

43% of women take time off to raise families. This fact alone has made it difficult in the past for women to have equal opportunity in the workforce. Returnships are changing that. No matter the reason for taking a break, Returnships provide equal opportunities for men and women to step back into the workforce when they are ready while gaining the necessary skills and growing their network.

Returnships Provide Launching Pads

Many people returning to work may not be 100% sure what type of job they’re looking to fill. For some their previous job may not exist, while others might be considering a career switch. Returnships can be a great launching pad for experimenting with various types of roles and understanding the various nuances and changes of each. After completing a returnship, employees will be better informed and prepared for the role they’re stepping into.

The internet is full of mixed reviews when it comes to returnships. Are you thinking about implementing this program at your company? What are the obstacles you think you’ll face?

In 2003, Congress declared October National Work and Family Month. According to Former President Barack Obama’s official White House statement in 2010, “National Work and Family Month serves as a reminder to all of us, especially working caregivers, their families, and their employers, that while we have made great strides as a nation to adopt more flexible policies in the workplace, there’s more we can do.”

national work and family month

Great Strides

Yes, as a nation, we’ve come a long way and that’s worth celebrating. Less than 100 years ago, during World War II, women began to flood into the workforce, increasing from 27 percent of the working population to 37 percent in just five years, meaning one in four women were working outside the home for the first time. Today, 54 percent of the U.S. workforce are women, showing the great strides we’ve made in a relatively short amount of time.

There’s More We Can Do

But, October is off to a rough start. From natural disasters in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico, to the mass shootings in Las Vegas, now more than ever is the time for employers to remember the humanity their companies were built to serve. This means providing a flexible work environment that understands the needs of parents and their growing families.

1. Provide Better Policies

This is the bare minimum of what companies can do to provide a flexible work environment for employees. While the Family and Medical Leave Act was implemented in 1993, the U.S. still falls way behind when it comes to providing mandatory paternity leave. The first thing an employer should do is provide policies that protect their employees against discrimination and encourage them to take necessary time away when starting their families.

2. Walk the Talk

Plenty of companies boast of their workplace flexibility, but few are actually practicing what they preach. We hear of countless employers providing “unlimited paid time-off” but the reality is without clear expectations or good management, employees are left with guilt and misunderstanding, and often take less days off than before. When thinking about expectations, this seems to incite negative connotations for many of us. But expectations can also mean encouraging an employee to stay home when they’re not feeling well or take a few days off when a big project wraps up. At PerkSpot, we are lucky to have implemented this policy with great success, but not without constant work and re-evaluation. It works because the managers provide clear expectations of when to take time off and when we should be in the office. Plus, they model the benefits by taking off for week-long family vacations or much-needed downtime.

3. Lead by Example

This brings us to our next point. No company policy in and of itself is going to solve problems. That’s where it’s important to hire and train effective managers who not only implement policies, but who can model this behavior to their team. No one feels safe to take time off when the boss is sneezing all day long in their office. Managers, take care of yourselves and take care of your team.

4. Bend the Rules

Even your most flexible policies might stand in the way, so don’t be afraid to bend a little. We’re all human and we all face circumstances out of our control. Think outside the HR box and get creative. There’s a time and a place for every rule so make sure you discuss when a situation might arise that requires a reassessment of company policies. Being flexible means being flexible… even when it comes to your policies.

What are some ways you’re celebrating National Work and Family Month? How has your company made strides to protect families inside the workplace?

coffee addiction Colorful Rocks

We love coffee, so we decided to offer you a little wisdom about this surprisingly healthful beverage. Coffee actually boasts a longer and more diverse list of health benefits than most superfoods, which is great news for the 54% of Americans adults who consume at least one cup a day. Below you will find a rundown of the not-so-obvious ways that coffee is good — one might even say great — for your health.

Below that are some additional tips for the best way to imbibe your caffeine, no matter your preferred source beverage (we didn’t forget you, tea and soda drinkers of the world!). It turns out that a bunch of the ways we normally consume caffeine (e.g. first thing in the morning) are actually the scientifically worst ways to do so, minimizing its effectiveness and increasing the likelihood that you’ll become a bona fide caffeine addict.

We’re the discount specialists here, so it’s important to us that you are getting the biggest bang for your caffeine buck.

coffee addiction Desk Plant

I. Coffee is the Workplace Super-Beverage

All the Antioxidants.

Nothing else comes close” to providing as many antioxidants in the American diet. In terms of antioxidants per serving, coffee “easily outranks” other popular sources like tea, chocolate, and cranberries. Coffee beans are particularly rich in disease-combatting quinines, which actually become more potent after roasting — dark roast fans rejoice!

Technically: Dates trump coffee for antioxidants per serving, but we thought it’d be easier to write a piece about why that drink you love is really awesome, rather than try to convince you to start eating dates on the daily.

Stress-Free Scent.

The simple aroma of coffee is shown to reduce stress stemming from sleep deprivation. An international group of scientists linked exposure to the scent off coffee with the boosted expression of genes and brain proteins that protect nerve cells from stress-related damage. This is a big one considering that 84% of Americans report under sleeping at least once a week.

Best for Your Brain.

People who consume 3-5 cups of coffee a day in adulthood are observed with a 65% decreased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Coffee may decrease risk of Parkinson’s disease, and now this recent study finds that 2-4 cups of coffee a day can reduce movement-related symptoms in Parkinson’s patients.

Tea drinkers: There is some scientific evidence to suggest that tea has similarly favorable effects against cognitive decline, but the results are less consistent and less pronounced.

Your Liver Loves It.

A 22-year longitudinal study found that the risk of developing alcoholic liver cirrhosis decreased by 22% with each cup of coffee subjects drank per day. 1-4 daily cups of coffee are also demonstrated — although with less pronounced results — to help prevent other types of cirrhosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

10% Happier.

Coffee fanatics (think 4 cups a day) are 10% less likely to be depressed than those who don’t drink coffee. This finding holds true for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. Other studies suggest similar mood boosting effects for a more moderate 2-3 cups.

Take note: Sugary beverages — particularly soft drinks — have a higher risk of depression. For the best coffee-induced mood boost, we recommend drinking it unsweetened. (Your cavity-free teeth will be happier too!)

coffee addiction Colored Pencils

II. Don’t Drink Your Caffeine Like A Rookie

Cortisol Control.

If you’re like most of us, you probably have your first (or second or third) caffeinated beverage within an hour of waking up. This is basically the worst possible time to drink your caffeine. Our bodies run on a 24-hour hormonal cycle called the circadian clock. In the morning, our bodies to naturally release cortisol, a hormone that makes us feel alert and awake. If you typically wake up between 6am and 8am, peak cortisol production lasts until about 9am.

Don’t drink caffeine during peak cortisol production.

Cortisol not only reduces the effects of caffeine, but also spurs your body to build up a caffeine tolerance. The more often you consume caffeine during peak cortisol production, the more likely you are to become dependent on caffeine just to feel awake. So when should you drink it? Science says between 9:30am – 11am and 1:30pm – 5pm.

Slow and Steady.

Research suggests that small, frequent doses are the most effective way to consume caffeine. Caffeine peaks in the body between 30 and 60 minutes after consumption. Harvard Medical School researchers found that an hourly dose of 25-100mg with a daily maximum intake of 400mg is the optimal method for maximizing caffeine’s stimulant effects without experiencing the dreaded 3pm crash. (For reference: one cup of coffee typically contains about 100mg of caffeine.)

Learn more and test your knowledge with this Caffeine Quiz.

A popular book has circulated about relationships entitled “The Five Love Languages”. In his book, the author, Gary Chapman, discusses the different ways we give and receive love. He calls these various styles “Love Languages” as they provide insight into how we should communicate with our partner.

Every person is unique and has their own style (or language). As strange as it sounds, it got us thinking. Do we have workplace “love languages”? Does each individual have a preference for how they give and receive appreciation?

employee appreciation languages

We’ll break down Chapman’s these love languages and how they impact the workplace.

Words of Affirmation

Do you like when people write you a kind note or recognize you in a public forum? This love language goes way beyond romantic relationships. Kind words are incredibly impactful for employees who crave words of affirmation. A quick message on Slack, a short sentence in your weekly stand-up, or a handwritten note gives these employees the fuel they need to stay motivated throughout the week, or even, month.

Acts of Service

On the flip side, for others, actions speak louder than words. Do you feel most appreciated when someone offers to help with an assignment or better yet, finishes a project because they know you don’t have the time or energy to complete it? Acts of service can be big or small, but for many employees, this is the best way to show you appreciate all that they’re doing. Especially during busy season, managers who pitch in make all the difference when it comes to retaining their talent.

Receiving Gifts

This language can get a little tricky in the workplace, depending on your policies around gift giving and receiving. But, we’re not talking about diamond necklaces or new cars. Gifts can be as small as a cup of coffee when your employee comes in early or a non-tangible, like an early release when they’ve been pulling extra hours. Make sure you gauge which employees actually appreciate and desire these types of gestures. The last thing you want is to make them uncomfortable with your good intentions.

Quality Time

This is quite possibly the hardest language to weave into your work culture. That being said, for many employees, it’s also the most meaningful. Spending quality time getting to know your employees can not only show that you care about them, it can also provide powerful insights into their needs. Maybe it’s a quick walk around the block every month just to check-in. Or, you could schedule in time to really dive deep into what’s going on. No matter what your schedule allows, taking time out of your day to spend with them can make the difference between an engaged or a disgruntled employee.

Do you know how your employees prefer to be appreciated? Or better yet, how do you most often communicate your appreciation? Make sure you’re choosing the appropriate channel based on the employee to make the most of your recognition.

In human resources, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our interview process in order to hire great talent. And by great talent we don’t just mean qualified candidates, but individuals who provide an addition to our culture that we’d either been looking for or didn’t even realize we were missing.

But maybe the reason we’re not succeeding is because we’re conducting interviews like stuffy questionnaires and expecting to understand the intricacies of a prospect’s personality and previous experiences. Perhaps the answer to our interviewing woes comes through approaching the process like a journalist, rather than a hiring manager or recruiter.

storytelling interview tips

When a journalist sits down with their subject, they are trying to find something that makes them stick out. They want to hear what makes their story unique and different from all the other people they’ve researched before. It’s the same way when we interview a candidate. We want to find something that makes them different, whether in their previous careers, education, or just life experience.

The next time you sit down for an interview, consider the power of storytelling. Use these tips to hear their story and consider whether or not they’d be a good fit for your company and the role in question.

There is no right or wrong answer.

Best-selling author, Cal Fussman, puts it this way: “It’s more like you’re casting a movie and you know the part you need to cast for, and you know the traits that person’s going to need to make that job work for you and for that person. And so, it really isn’t a matter of this person’s bad or this person’s good. If you treat it like a casting director in a movie, you would say that’s the perfect person for that role.” Remember that there are multiple ways a candidate can answer your questions, or at least if you’re asking the right questions, that’s how it should be…

Ask the right questions.

We all know the tried and true “What’s your biggest weakness?”. Candidates have most likely pored over different responses trying to find the perfect one. Instead of asking something that they’ll hear in their other 20 interviews, consider asking questions that cut more to the core of your company culture. For example, if you’re hiring for a sports agency, ask them about the best game they ever played or witnessed. This is a great opportunity to not only gauge their passion for the industry, but to get them to tell a story. You’ll learn so much about their personality not only by the content that they share, but the way they share it.

Think outside the box, or at least, the office.

You might think conducting an interview has to happen within the four walls of your office or conference room, but that just isn’t true. If you conduct a lot of meetings at the nearby coffee shop, why not try it in your interview? Of course, find a place that’s still conducive for conversation, but a cup of coffee will definitely put you and your candidate at ease compared to the glare of fluorescent lights. In this way, they’ll feel more comfortable opening up when it’s time to share their story.

How do you get candidates to share their story? What are some questions you would ask?

An article was posted a few days ago that posed the question: “Can You Teach Work Ethic?”. Whether you are a Talent Management Director, a Human Resources Manager, a CEO, or just starting out in your career, you’ve probably come across employees who lack that special something.

Call it work ethic, gumption, motivation, or engagement. There are plenty of words to describe that characteristic that makes good employees, well… good.

motivating unmotivated employees

So is it possible to instill work ethic in the unmotivated? Is it a question of engagement or is it intrinsic?

Here are a few ways you can motivate even the most unmotivated of employees:

Talk it Out

First things first, you might need to get to the root of the problem. There could be many reasons why an employee is not putting their best foot forward: personal reasons, boredom, unclear expectations, etc. Schedule time to chat with the employee and keep an open mind about what they may be experiencing. Maybe they need more work on their plate or maybe they need a vacation. Figure out what they need from you and see how you can make that happen.

Empower Them Through Goal-Setting

After your conversation, make a plan for you and your employee. Set goals that help your employee feel empowered, not micro-managed. You can do this by making the goals a discussion, not a demand. By empowering them to take ownership of these expectations, they are more likely to stay motivated to follow-through.

Give Them Freedom to Make Mistakes

A lot of employees don’t take initiative because they’re afraid of failure. When setting goals, make sure they’re aware that the expectation is not perfection, but completion. As they work to complete a project or achieve a goal, ask questions along the way that let them know you’re in it together. Mistakes are inevitable and while you don’t want to encourage sloppy work, it’s important to create a forgiving environment for employees to take chances and risk failure.

Rinse and Repeat

Keep in mind that engaging employees should be an ongoing process, not a once a year thing. Schedule a monthly touch-base. Walk around the block for five minutes to get out of the office and help your employee feel comfortable opening up about where they’re struggling. Take this opportunity to point out where they succeeded and where they could improve. For particularly troublesome employees, let them know your expectations for the future if they continue to fall short.

Keeping unmotivated employees engaged is not easy, but it’s essential to cultivating the work culture we all desire. Follow these steps and if you don’t see improvement, it may be an issue of poor culture fit or the wrong position. Again, ask questions to get to the root of the issue. In the end, you’re after what’s best for the company and for the employee and sticking around when they’re unhappy isn’t good for either.

I was chatting with a couple of friends the other day and each were sharing their unique experiences at work. There was one thing they each shared, however, which was their struggle with comparison. Each of the girls have just started new positions in the last year and as they strive to prove themselves at work, the natural tendency to compare themselves and their work to those around them has slowly creeped in.

But they are not alone in their experiences. Social comparison is so common that there is even a theory based around its effects.

stop comparing yourself

Whether you’re starting a new career or you’re a veteran in your role, here are a few ways comparison can rob us of joy and how you can counteract these feelings:

Comparisons do not show the full picture.

You might have heard the expression “You have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce”. While true and motivating, Beyonce was also blessed with opportunities that many of us will never have. Comparing yourself to others is unfair because we each have unique backgrounds, skills, and passions.

Gratitude reveals the whole story.

Instead of comparison, consider ways you can be grateful instead. Make a list every day of five things you are thankful for. Whenever you start comparing yourself to others, reach for the list and remember that what you have experienced serves to make you the person that you are and put you on a career path that’s uniquely yours.

Comparisons put the focus on the wrong person.

“He’s so smart.” “She’s so successful.” “His life is perfect.” Notice the subject of these sentences is not YOU. Comparisons have the power to put your focus on other people instead of on your own accomplishments.

Pride redefines the meaning of success.

Instead of focusing on what other people achieved, consider your own successes. It can be as small as finishing a report to larger achievements like a promotion or a raise. No matter how insignificant, tracking our achievements can be a great way to put the focus back on ourselves and our goals.

Comparisons build resentment.

One of the most harmful effects of social comparison is the resentment that can build over time. We can not only become bitter about our own shortcomings, but also resent others’ success, harming our relationships and creating walls between us.

Humility brings happiness.

This is probably the most difficult to achieve, but when we turn comparison into admiration, the results can be extremely beneficial. Instead of harboring feelings of jealousy, ask questions of the people you respect. Determine how they got to the place that you admire. You may find that things are not quite as simple as they appear, or find ways to reach your own goals that you might not have thought of before. It might not be easy to put away those jealous feelings, but in the end, you’ll build stronger relationships and learn a lot along the way.

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.” Don’t think about what the other flowers are doing… just bloom.

You’ve probably seen the devastating affects of Hurricane Harvey. The category 4 hurricane reached Houston over the weekend and caused flooding and damage to the area, leading non-profit and disaster relief organizations to turn their attention to Texas.

hurricane harvey disaster relief

At PerkSpot, we love to see the different ways our clients are stepping into the gap and fulfilling needs all over the U.S.. In fact, just last week we discussed the role of HR in light of Charlottesville and how our clients are flipping the script.

This week is no different. Hurricane Harvey brought devastation to many Texas homes. Here are a few of our PerkSpot family’s most creative efforts to bring relief to Houston.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest is one of our oldest partners and we are so proud to call them part of the PerkSpot family. They are constantly finding new ways to spread the “Luv”. So, when disaster struck Houston, they were quick to use their resources to provide relief to the area. Southwest flew 500 stranded passengers to Dallas free of charge.

H-E-B

This twitter status speaks for itself. H-E-B, founded in Texas and now one of the nation’s largest independent food retailers, knows the importance of a nice warm meal. They’re providing meals, ice, water, and other needs at their storefronts for those affected by the disaster, along with collecting donations directly on their site.

Starbucks

Starbucks is known for their constant support of their Partners. In response to Hurricane Harvey, Starbucks partners (employees) who donate to relief efforts can request matching funds through the company’s Partner Match program. Currently, the Starbucks Foundation, has donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross. Another reason why it’s great #tobeapartner.

Lyft

Take a ride with this PerkSpot client and round up your change to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. They’ve pledged to donate $100,000 to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, created by the city’s mayor. Plus, they are even coordinating food and supply drives across Texas.

American Red Cross

Yep, that’s right, this leading organization for disaster relief is a PerkSpot partner. Below is a video showcasing their current efforts and here is a place you can donate to increase their efforts across Texas.

If you’re looking for ways to help, you can always donate to the Red Cross efforts. Human Resources, check out these tips on implementing policies and assisting those in need.

As a human resource manager, you’re in the business of managing humans. Everything you do, all day long, directly and indirectly, affects the people in your organization professionally and personally. But while you spend time managing the careers of your employees, it’s easy to neglect the most important human in your sphere of influence: yourself.

invest in yourself

How many steps have you taken this week to invest in your career? What about this month? This year?

While we spend time working to retain our top talent, we can forget to focus on the own talents we possess and the ways we need to grow. So no matter how busy you are, here are five easy ways you invest in your career right now.

Invest in Your Intelligence

Train. That. Brain. Many of us remain cognitively stagnant. Once we graduate, we no longer have textbooks to read or homework to practice. Stimulate your brain by practicing some simple tricks everyday to keep your senses sharp. One of my personal favorites is an app called Elevate. You’ll take an initial IQ test to gauge where you land in certain categories, such as Reading, Writing and Math. From there, they’ll provide short games you can complete in just five minutes. It’s highly addictive, challenging, and a great way to improve everyday skills.

Invest in Your Goals

First things first, establish your goals. Whether those are New Year’s Resolutions or a trajectory for reaching your next promotion, make sure you have clear and achievable goals for the next year written down and in a place where you’ll see them on a regular basis (I keep mine in the “Notes” section of my iPhone).

After you’ve written out your goals, think of what actionable steps you can take to achieve them. And this doesn’t just apply to professional goals. Let’s say you want to read 20 books this year. Make your list, decide where you want to start, and break it down into what you need to accomplish each month (read 1.5 books) or week (200 pages). Evaluate your goals in a few weeks and adjust them as necessary. This is key to avoiding burnout and still keeping your momentum.

Invest in Your Community

This seems counterintuitive, but by helping others, you can meet new people, learn new skills, and stretch yourself in ways you never would have thought. Find ways to invest in your community by joining the board of a non-profit, volunteering at a local shelter or soup kitchen, or even cooking dinner for the new neighbor. Depending on your availability, you might not be able to take on a new commitment, but there are small ways to do good every day. A good friend of mine is quick to send a Starbucks gift card (via email… so easy!) when I have something big coming up or am going through a hard time. It’s a small gesture that can go a long way. Consider big and small ways to invest in your circle of influence.

The news of Charlottesville has shaken most of us to our core. As a result, it can be easy to lose sight of the efforts we’ve made for diversity and inclusion.

diversity and inclusion

The following stories do not take away from the effects of Charlottesville and the battle we must continue to fight. However, we think it’s important to also recognize the good. There are companies in the U.S. who are taking a stand and making a difference. They are creating a safe, fulfilling, and supportive environment for employees of underrepresented communities.

Here are companies making a difference for diversity in 2017. Oh, and best of all, they all happen to be PerkSpot clients.

Humana:

Leading the charge, Humana focuses on the well-being of their associates through the Executive Inclusion & Diversity Council, led by their President and CEO, Bruce Broussard, and various Network Resource Groups that provide business outreach and professional development. In turn, their goal is to make Humana associates passionate about I&D in order to better serve their communities and help them to achieve their best health.

“Humana serves millions of members, and each of them is unique … By reflecting that diversity in our associate population, we can meet our members where they are on their health journeys and better understand their needs. Our associates’ vast variety of backgrounds, perspectives and beliefs makes us a stronger, more nimble and more empathetic company.” – Bruce Broussard, CEO

Abbott:

Voted number 10 on DiversityInc’s Top 50 most diverse companies list, Abbott is leading the charge for diversity. Women and people of color make up almost 50% of their corporate board of directors. In fact, as a whole women make up an impressive 47% of management. With cross-cultural mentors and corporate diversity goals, diversity is a top priority for Abbott.

“Diversity is a strength, period. It takes diversity of gender, ethnicity, and background to drive the diversity of ideas that we need to succeed. We do business in more than 150 countries; to understand and serve a rich and varied world, a broad range of perspectives isn’t an option — it’s essential.” – Miles D. White, Chairman and CEO

AbbVie:

In 2017, AbbVie launched a new Diversity & Inclusion Committee, aimed at offering their employees “the tools, training and experiences they need to reach their potential.” AbbVie also created Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), that bring employees together who share a common interest while focusing on mentoring, networking, and professional development.

“Developing and bringing innovative, life-saving medicines to patients requires diverse thought and approaches. Bringing together experts from diverse backgrounds and thought is crucial to our ability to deliver today and into the future.” – Richard A. Gonzalez, Chairman and CEO

We are inundated with  story after story on the news of tragedy and hate. However, we hope these stories will inspire you and your company to flip the script.