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.

You’ve heard it before: office friendships can make a big difference when it comes to employee happiness and engagement. But what happens when friendships turn into cliques?

office culture too cliquish

On Ask a Manager, an HR blog/advice column, a reader writes about her experience with a former employee who didn’t seem to meet this manager’s understanding of a “culture fit”. The employee eventually left the department due to cultural problems and overall what she described as a very exclusive environment, including Snapchat silos, brewery trips, and inappropriate relationships. The manager blamed the employee’s lack of belonging on not being a good fit for the team, but it seemed that she was prioritizing social connections over professionalism and inclusivity. In fact, Ask a Manager posted an update just last week stating the manager had been fired for bullying (mocking the former employee on SnapChat) and not meeting the company code of conduct. Definitely a case of culture fit gone wrong.

We’ve explored this misunderstanding of “culture fit” before and came to the conclusion that HR should just remove those two words from their vocabulary. Too often and too easily we fall into the trap of hiring people who talk like us, think like us, and even dress like us. But what about diversity and inclusion? And how do we prevent “cliques” from happening… or should we?

Here’s what we’ve learned:

1. Friendships can, will, and should happen naturally. There was one thing this manager actually managed to do well and that was encourage friendships within the office. Embrace the natural connections that happen within the office as long as they are not occurring at the expense of other employees or crossing any lines.

2. Friendships are never mandatory. The biggest mistake this manager made was thinking that friendships were a necessary part of the office life. While friendliness is obligatory, friendship is not, and these are not the same thing. Some personalities prefer to come to work, do their job, and leave. Just like you wouldn’t force a friendship in other walks of life, don’t do it in the workplace.

3. Friendships, unfortunately, will exclude someone. We aren’t in third grade anymore where it’s mandatory to invite the entire class to attend your birthday party. Friendships, by nature, will exclude certain people. The important thing to note here is that you are considerate to those outside your circle by keeping inside jokes to a minimum and outside plans, well… outside. Your friendship can’t take priority over someone else’s feelings inside the workplace. Managers, pay attention to isolated employees. Make sure they’re choosing not to participate versus feeling excluded.

Are there other ways you can keep your culture from becoming “cliquey”?

sunday night blues

An awesome article in Fistful of Talent recently discussed the “Sunday Night Blues”. Well-written and well-researched, the author describes the misery many people experience before returning to work on Monday morning. He dives into why this might be true of the 76% of Americans who say their Sunday Night Blues are so bad they want to look for a new job.

While you can read the article for a more in-depth view of the “Sunday Night Blues” and their sweep across America, let’s discuss a few ways we can conquer the blues by providing employees with a better place to work in the first place.

Give Them Something to Look Forward To

Think about your team and the weekly activity they enjoy doing the most. Maybe it’s a meal you share together or a fun team building activity. Whatever it is, try moving it to Monday to engage your staff right from the get-go. Start incorporating a daily stand-up as part of your Monday routine to encourage your team by celebrating wins and highlighting star performers. Just make sure to save any constructive criticism for later in the week when morale is higher.

Take Advantage of Fridays

When the end of the week rolls around most of us check out for the weekend. But often that can make Monday even more painful. Ending your Fridays well and setting you and your team up for success is essential for a productive and pleasant start to your week. The Muse provides a helpful worksheet for ending your week by celebrating accomplishments and assigning tasks for the week ahead. Using this sheet can help you feel more successful and less overwhelmed on Monday morning.

Let Them Flex Their Schedule

One of the greatest benefits at PerkSpot is the ability to flex our schedules. This could mean working from home when it’s storming out or working later hours to catch up on some Zzzzs. Providing flexible schedule opportunities for employees can help improve productivity and has even made a difference in closing the gender pay gap. Telecommuting is becoming all the more popular, so it will not only satisfy your current employees but also help you stay competitive when recruiting new hires.

Lead by Example

Nothing is worse than walking into the office on Monday morning to hear your supervisor or coworker moan and complain. On the other hand, Gallup reports that “Positive leaders deliberately increase the flow of positive emotions within their organization,” and can lead to greater engagement and improved performance. If the leadership is not staying positive, it’s highly unlikely their employees will maintain a positive attitude.

Combat the “Sunday Night Blues” by providing a better workplace for our employees, starting with our own attitudes.

A new company recently emerged on the scene that had the PerkSpot office murmuring: Brandless.

Brandless sells consumer goods from groceries to household and office supplies. What makes them unique? Everything is completely generic and only $3. In their words: “Better stuff, fewer dollars. It’s that simple.” By eliminating the costs associated with a name brand, they are able to increase quality and decrease price.

This got us thinking.. What would happen if we eliminated the brand stigma when hiring candidates? What if resumes came without company names like Facebook or Google? Would we still be hiring the same people?

brandless employees

Here are few lessons we learned when we began the search for “Brandless” Employees:

1. Go Brandless to See Talent for Talent:

One of the greatest risks to hiring employees based on where they’ve previously worked is that we might not truly evaluate their work experience. For example, is a managerial level candidate at Facebook really as valuable as a VP at X company? Even job titles can be tricky, so don’t let that sway you either. Focus on job performance and ability to perform the necessary tasks, not just the flashy titles they slap on their resumes.

2. Go Brandless to Remove the Paradox of Choice:

Have you ever walked down the cereal aisle of your grocery store and just stood there dumbfounded? There is one thing we love in America and that’s options. But sometimes too many options can leave us paralyzed and in fear of making the wrong decision. When sourcing candidates for a position, we can often come across the same problem. Simplify your search by only looking at candidates who meet your top requirements. Stick to your guns and don’t settle for less.

3. Go Brandless to Stay Transparent:

No matter what you plan to purchase at Brandless, everything is just $3. By knowing the price in advance, it makes shopping for what you need super simple. In the same way, we should be transparent with our new hires about our budget for compensation. Whether it’s putting a range on the job description or asking candidates their preferred salary, start the conversation early so you don’t waste your time or theirs.

How could your hiring efforts benefit from removing brand bias? What other ways do you see this affecting your recruitment?

Horrible Bosses

If you’ve been in the working world for some time, you’ve probably experienced the pains of a horrible boss. Poor listening skills, arrogance and just plain rudeness generally characterize these Michael Scott rivals. But whether this is a current reality for you or you are fortunate enough to have moved past that situation, there are many things we can learn from these horrible bosses.

The Micromanager

horrible bosses perkspot culture

For some bosses, “control freak” doesn’t even begin to explain the horrors of their management style. If you’ve ever experienced micromanagement, you know that it can be frustrating and leave you wondering why they even hired you in the first place. The lack of trust and need for control isn’t doing anyone any favors. But if there is one thing we can learn from the micromanagers of the world, it’s attention to detail. While it may seem obnoxious in the moment, and definitely is not an approach we would condone, you can still find ways to benefit from this not-so-pleasant experience. Micromanagers often help us think through all the details that can take a report, spreadsheet, or article from good to great. You never know, attention to detail may be the key to landing that big client or getting your long sought after promotion.

The Constant Critic

horrible bosses perkspot culture

Remember that famous line from Bambi? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!” Maybe you have experienced a manager who could have benefited from this piece of advice. Unfortunately, sometimes the easiest thing we can learn from bad bosses is what NOT to do. Regardless of whether you’re in management or not, we could all be better at encouraging others. Before you think about criticizing a coworker’s work, find something positive to say as well. While there are still benefits to constructive criticism, if the negatives tend to outweigh the positives, it might be time to reevaluate your approach.

The Bad Listener

horrible bosses perkspot culture

There’s quite possibly nothing more disheartening, not to mention annoying, than a boss who simply doesn’t listen. But great bosses know the importance of listening, before speaking. Learning to listen is a skill that’s often overlooked. But, it can make a major difference in your professional and personal life. Michael Taft for the Huffington Post says “Learning to listen means learning to actually pay attention to — to concentrate on — what other people are saying. Listening to their words as if listening to a favorite song, with your mind focused on what they are saying and what it means.”

In a world full of social media distractions and iPhone obsessions, it is refreshing to be around someone who looks you in the eye and repeats back what you say. Take what you experience from having a boss that doesn’t listen and be more sympathetic and understanding, not just hearing but actually listening to what others are trying to tell you.

Have you ever had a horrible boss? What was your experience like? What did you learn? Tell us in the comments!

While we operate like a start-up, we actually celebrated TEN years at PerkSpot last year. With this longevity came a need to reward and challenge our employees who have been around for the long haul. That’s why this year PerkSpot decided to offer sabbaticals to our more tenured employees.
sabbaticals

What is a Sabbatical?

Sabbatical comes from the word “sabbath”, which means “rest”. A sabbatical is a paid leave granted to an employee after they have fulfilled a set number of years in service at their company. In our case, this begins with a two week paid leave after an employee has been with PerkSpot for three years and is increased to three weeks after five years.

 

What is the Purpose of a Sabbatical?

There are many reasons behind taking a sabbatical. In addition to giving employees some much needed time off, a sabbatical should also be focused on personal and professional development. Each employee is encouraged to spend the time away pursuing their “hopes and dreams”. Oftentimes we find ourselves so caught up in the daily grind, we forget about those bigger goals and aspirations we want to accomplish. This could mean perfecting your Spanish with lessons in Cuba or discovering artifacts on an archeological dig (yes, these are real PerkSpot sabbatical plans). While these experiences may not directly relate to our jobs, they can enrich our lives and in turn make us better individuals and employees.

 

Making the Most of a Sabbatical

If you’re considering taking a sabbatical or offering this option to your employees, here are a few things to consider:

1. Make It Challenging: A sabbatical can be relaxing, but it should also stretch you. It provides the perfect opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and discover something new. These are the moments where we truly grow. If you’ve never been outside the country, consider traveling for your break. Or if you’re a travel nut, maybe you decide to stay local and spend the time reflecting. Whatever you decide, just make sure it’s pushing you to greater heights.

2. Make It Relevant: While we’ve already said that a sabbatical doesn’t have to directly apply to your career, it should help you master new skills, improve upon existing ones, or provide an opportunity to improve relationships with clients, employers, or colleagues. Use this time to generate experiences that will help you in the future.

3. Make It Last: The experience shouldn’t stop when you get back to the office. Bring along a journal to document what you’re learning. You’ll be more likely to retain the information and have something to reference when looking back on your time spent away. If you’re not a writer, maybe document your experiences through photos. Your Instagram account will thank you.

 

We love to hear about our employees’ sabbatical plans. If you took a three week sabbatical, how would you use your time away?

We’ve said it before and it’s no secret – Millennials get a bad rap. Many have characterized this generation as selfish, entitled and lazy. But there’s one word that perhaps summarizes them better than the others and that we don’t often hear:

Resilience.

millennials resilient generation
From 9/11 to Katrina to Sandy Hook, the Millennial generation has not had it easy. In “Managing Millennials for Dummies”, the author states “In response to all of this bloodshed and uncertainty, Millennials, despite the typical rhetoric, have become resilient…They’re determined to make the best of the here and now and, in the face of change, roll with the punches the best they can.” And while tragedies and hardships aren’t strangers to previous generations, the inundation of social media has changed how this affects us on a daily basis. “Older generations were able to some degree, to disconnect from the news and all the atrocities flooding the media… For younger Millennials, the news is always there and always in their face (or in their pockets).”

As Millennials become more resilient to the increase of violence and hardship, there are many ways this plays out in the workplace:

  • “You Only Live Once” is the motto of this generation. They want to make the most of every moment and are quick to move on if they are unhappy or unsatisfied in their work. With tragic daily news, millennials are faced with the reality that life is short and should not be wasted.

 

  • Millennials seek to make a change in the world and desire to have meaning behind their work. They pursue ways that businesses can affect the social and political issues they face.

 

  • Millennials have a more personal relationship with their managers. Consequently, they desire a coach or mentor relationship versus one of power and position. They need to know their boss has their best interest at heart.

 

  • Millennials are more innovative and quick to try something new. Because they’ve become resilient in the face of failure, one mistake or downfall does not leave them defeated. They can quickly pick themselves up and try again.

 

  • Millennials need to unplug and recharge. They deal with news on a constant basis, while checking emails or browsing the internet. This constant connectivity means it’s more important they have time to get away from office stress.

 

Whether you work with Millennials, manage Millennials, or are a Millennial, find ways to acknowledge their (or your) resilience. It’s no small thing to bounce back from the hardships we’ve all experienced over the last 10-20 years. Let these experiences empower us to be better and do more.

 

We’re all familiar with branding as it relates to marketing, but what about how it relates to recruitment? If you think about popular brands like Lyft, Southwest Airlines, and Starbucks, you probably have a good idea of what it’s like to work for these companies. That’s because they’ve integrated branding not only into their marketing strategy but their recruitment strategy as well.

 

An employment brand is the prospective candidates have of what it’s like to work for an organization. According to Glassdoor, 69% of Americans wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed. This goes to show that reputation is everything, not just for consumers, but candidates as well.

building employer brand

Make your employer brand stand out with these 4 tips:

1. Focus on your audience.

First things first, consider the type of employee you’re looking to recruit. While diversity is important for an organization, there should be common denominators that unite your brand, such as creative thinking, innovation, and flexibility. While some thrive in a corporate setting, others may perform better in a more flex environment. Consider what makes your company unique and what unifies your current employees. Draw on your strengths to attract new talent.

2. Showcase “A Day In the Life”

When I was applying at PerkSpot, the job description really stuck out to me because it detailed what I could expect my first six months on the job. When candidates are looking for a new position, they need to be able to picture themselves on a day to day basis performing the tasks at hand. There are so many ways you can showcase what daily life is like at your company. From testimonials to videos to the job description, make sure you’re painting a picture for these prospects so they can visualize themselves working for your brand.

3. Incorporate leadership into the process.

A great way to build company culture and a strong employment brand is by getting the CEO and other executives involved in this process. When leadership takes ownership over the recruitment process and the message you are conveying to candidates, this can humanize the organization and build a stronger brand. In fact, according to Employer Branding International, this is one of the top factors in shaping a strong employment brand.

4. Make your message consistent.

If you’re working for a larger company, it can be difficult to create a consistent message across the board. Conduct employee surveys to gauge the current view employees have of your company. Incorporate the mission and values of the company into each department’s function. For example, if innovation is a core value, make sure every department from tech to marketing knows how this value is expressed in their job function. When everyone from the intern to the CEO can list your core values, you have a strong employer brand.

What are some ways you’re building your employer brand? What are the challenges you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments!