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Using Clear and Open Communication to Build Better Business


Thought leaders, motivational speakers and executive strategists alike continue to stress the crucial importance of quality communication for business success, regardless of industry. But at first glance, it looks like they’re just advocating for the obvious; after all, who
really needs a guide on how to communicate? If there’s anything that comes natural to us, it’s the ability to communicate what we’re thinking and feeling to other humans, right?

 

Multi-colored transparent heads engaging in close communication

 

Well, yeah. But when we put communications in the context of massive operations spanning dozens or even hundreds of corporate employees, things can get a lot more complicated, very fast.

The most important thing to remember about quality office communication is that more meetings does not equal better communication. In fact, the opposite is true; the more concisely you are able to express your ideas to the rest of the team, the more clear the final message will be. Don’t  just set up dozens of meetings with every employee or invite everyone to technical meets where most won’t have anything to contribute; instead, seek to partition employees into areas where their specific strengths and experience can be leveraged, and only bring them into the loop when their insights will provide some momentum to the larger conversation. To avoid falling into the trap of scheduling meeting after meeting to communicate your intents, remember the three E’s of employee communications; Explain your motivations, manage your Expectations, and lead by Example. 

The Three E’s

Explaining your motivations seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget in the heat of meetings! Even though a plan might be perfectly clear in your mind, employees can’t figure out what you’re thinking unless you tell them. If you have a specific vision in mind for an element, it’s essential that you clearly explain that vision right off the bat; don’t just tell your employees that you need a flier, explain how you envision it being used and what audience you want it to hit. Remember that just because you see things a certain way doesn’t mean that everyone else will have the same assumptions!

Managing expectations is the second key step of fostering quality communication. Although it’d be nice to be able to perfectly communicate exactly what you need on the first pass, every time, it rarely works out like that in reality. If you’re returned something that doesn’t match up with your expectations, it’s important to not get frustrated. Instead, try to identify what exactly it was that the other party misunderstood; often, small differences in envisioned use can create significantly different final results. By pinpointing the miscommunication, you identify the root cause of the issue rather than trying to provide touch-ups to the minute details.

Finally, you should strive to lead by example. Making visual aids or other active resources can help enormously in presenting a unified vision on a project, or offering employees a skeleton framework for ideation will keep them tethered to the core concepts you outline. By actively involving yourself in the process in these ways, you can reduce miscommunication enormously and course-correct through showing – rather than telling at a barrage of circular meetings.

Building Effective Communication Structures

Clear and precise communication is also part of what makes PerkSpot such a breeze to use. As a one-stop discount platform, PerkSpot communicates on your behalf to your employees, making them aware of and engaged with their benefits. To learn more about how PerkSpot’s discount program can help boost morale and benefit employees, request a demo and find out! 

Hopefully with these tips in mind, you can help make your workspace a less confusing and more productive environment. As long as you remember that honest, open communication is key to any successful business, you’re sure to see the results.

How HR Has Adapted Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Like nearly everything in 2020, human resources has seen a dramatic transformation in its role and responsibilities since the pandemic began. As companies make necessary and important changes, HR plays an important role. Read on to learn more about how human resources changed for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic.

Adjusted Talent Acquisition

In the past, one of HR’s main responsibilities as an entire department was talent acquisition. Unsurprisingly, this has not changed much throughout the pandemic, though you may have seen an interruption or increase in hiring based on your company’s services. No matter how your company’s hiring process transformed, one thing can be certain: on top of the hard skills sought out for different positions, new soft skills became increasingly essential.

Qualities like adaptability, communication, and independence are more necessary than ever as companies encounter unexpected challenges that require employees to quickly pivot. These qualities are things candidates should have always possessed, but now, they may be considered just as important as possessing the technical skills a job requires—and that won’t end with the pandemic. Going forward, update your job postings to include and emphasize the necessity of these soft skills. This can actually create a broader pool of candidates who strongly demonstrate these qualities and can be trained or developed to acquire more technical skills.

Increased Flexibility

There is no doubt you’ve had firsthand experience in adapting to meet the pandemic’s challenges. Not shockingly, this increased flexibility will carry on long after the pandemic has ended. Furthermore, it should be applied to various aspects of human resources. More flexibility in terms of scheduling should be granted to employees dealing with childcare or other dependents. Those working remotely will need colleagues to understand situations arise that can decrease productivity.

What’s more, as HR professionals, you yourself will have to continue to practice the same kind of flexibility you did throughout the last eight months. As new rules and regulations were put in place by CDC and local governments, your own processes probably changed as well. Expect this to continue as additional or evolved guidelines are introduced and a vaccine is eventually developed, once again changing all of our interactions. As the HR field transforms, one thing that stays the same is how your role’s flexibility can support fellow employees navigate the new challenges they’re facing.

Updated Guidelines

As an HR professional, you’re likely well-versed in legislation that impacts your company. Expect this increase ten-fold and change your company’s own guidelines, therefore requiring significant updates on your end. For example, a partially or completely remote workforce could spell out different legal problems than those for a workforce that is entirely in-person, like overtime regulations, workplace safety guidelines (no matter where the “workplace” is), and more.

Proactively inspect your workplace handbook to uncover areas that should be built out to offer additional regulations for employees. But also remember that during these times, regular updates to your company handbook and guidelines may be necessary to stay on top of changing legislation.

Updated Benefits

As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges for employees. Issues like decreased mental health and employee burnout are on the rise. Plus, employees have new challenges like caring for loved ones or a lack of financial security. Employees will look to you to offer some kind of improved benefit that satisfies these needs, while still fitting a smaller-than-normal budget. (Reminder—PerkSpot is a cost-free discount provider!)

At PerkSpot, we believe an employer-sponsored discount program can be the answer to these issues. As an all-in-one employee discount provider, we’ve worked hard to partner with brands that offer products and services like online therapy, financial assistance, childcare, senior care, and more. If you currently offer your employees a perk like this, be sure to communicate it to your employees as often as possible, ensuring they’re aware of and using their benefit, which is especially valuable at a time like this. If you’re hoping to improve your benefits offering like this, look no further. PerkSpot is a solution that satisfies the needs of a diverse workforce and fits into your budget. Interested in partnering with PerkSpot? Click here to request a demo and learn more!

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.

HR and Marketing: A Match Made in Heaven

At first glance, the human resources and marketing departments of a company seem like opposites. Marketing works primarily with customers of a company, while HR is more preoccupied with the company’s employees. Yet, they have more similarities than meets the eye.

Both departments are entrenched in the brand of a company, and how to convey it appropriately for others to consume. For marketing, it’s customers, and for human resources, it’s fellow employees. It makes sense for the two departments to come together and work together for a collective goal. Check out these three situations when HR should consider collaborating with their marketing department!

1. Recruitment and Hiring

Human resources has long owned the recruiting and interviewing process of any company, and that shouldn’t be changing anytime soon. However, a shakeup in your hiring might not be a bad idea for your company. Recruitment marketing is a rising trend in HR, which can mainly be attributed to the growing importance of social media, a more competitive job market, and the entry of the millennial generation in the workforce, according to a recent survey by HR.com. So how can you utilize your company’s marketing department to the best of your ability? Depending on the size and scope of your company and recruitment, options like employee referrals and brand advocates, a personalized career page, and targeted ads are all ways you can improve the quality of your hiring. Keep in mind, no two companies are the same, meaning their recruitment and interviewing process won’t be either. Some companies might not have the bandwidth or the budget to support all of these initiatives, so open up a conversation with your marketing department to come up with ways you can individualize your recruitment process so it fits your company well.

2. Onboarding

Once you’ve found that perfect new hire, it’s time to onboard them! But if you’re relying on the same onboarding process you’ve had in place for years, it might feel stale. Once again, this is a fantastic opportunity for your marketing department to help breathe life into your onboarding process. A study by Jobvite found that almost 30% of employees leave their new job within the first 90 days of employment. The main reason? Their day-to-day role wasn’t what they expected it to be. Make sure you fix this problem with your new onboarding process. Explain in clear detail not only what you expect of your new hires, but how they can succeed in their role and how you can assist them in doing so. While HR is the expert on the information that needs to be conveyed during onboarding, look to your marketing department to offer insight on the best way to convey that information, making it an effective and informative onboarding process for each new hire.

3. Company Culture

We know how important company culture is.  A company’s culture speaks to the values it upholds, the environment employees get to work in, and the goals they work toward. This is perhaps the best instance in which marketing and HR can work together. Not only do both departments have a holistic view of the company that other departments might not possess, but they’re also stakeholders in the two most important elements of company culture – the brand and the people. Marketing has a deep understanding of a company’s brand, and HR works closely with employees. Combined, it’s a match made in company culture heaven. Using HR’s know-how and marketing’s creativity, brainstorm to design unique strategies for implementing a company culture you know your employees will appreciate and enjoy. This can range from something simple like a company outing to a more extensive learning and development program tailored for your employees.

Sometimes, the best ideas come from where you least expect them. If your hiring, onboarding, or company culture could use some TLC, it’s time to join forces with your marketing department! What unexpected ideas have you come up with when working with a different department? Let us know!

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!

What It Takes to Be A Great Leader

We are fortunate to have an amazing team here at PerkSpot. But, it’s not by accident. A great teams needs a great leader, and our executive team is no exception.

We decided to pick their brains to discover all the traits they think make up a great leader. Here’s what they had to say.

“Being a great leader means knowing that your own growth never stops and that you can learn just as much from your team as what you can teach them.”

Humility

What better place to start when discussing leadership than with humility? We’re not talking about the self-deprecating type of humility that never acknowledges accomplishments or speaks up. True humility, however, pushes your team to be the best they can be for the sake of the team and the business, not for selfish gain.

Leaders who exemplify this quality…

  • Aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. There is no work too big or too small for them.
  • Acknowledge your value. “When I talk to a manager, I get the feeling that they are important. When I talk to a leader, I get the feeling that I am important.”
  • Acknowledge their mistakes. Nothing is more frustrating than having a boss who shifts blame and refuses to take responsibility for their errors. True leaders use their mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow, sharing these mistakes with their team as teachable moments for everyone involved.

“Great leaders always point the way to something bigger than ourselves.”

Vision

As CEO, it’s not surprising that Jace would focus on casting vision, arguably the most important thing a CEO can do! As the leader of PerkSpot, it’s of the utmost importance that Jace uses his leadership to lead us towards bigger and better goals, without getting caught up in the muck.

Here’s how great leaders cast vision:

  • They make the vision relevant. Take a moment to think about your team and the problems their facing. How does this vision or goal help them to solve problems and reach this goal? Make it relevant to their day-to-day.
  • They make the vision actionable. A great vision is nothing without a great plan to push it along. Vision-casting isn’t just a head-in-the-clouds, aspirational story. Great leaders know how to cast vision, while making it actionable for their teams by laying out a clear plan for getting there.
  • They make the vision personal. When dealing with a change or working toward a goal, most people will be thinking “what’s in it for me?”. Great leaders know how to address that question for each member of their team, dealing with the emotions they may be experiencing and answering doubts or fears that may arise.

“A great leader is similar to a great football coach- Surround yourself with quality players, develop the best game plan possible with their input, and most importantly enable your team to have the confidence and skills to achieve their goals.”

Team Players

As head of our sales team, it’s not surprising that Taylor would use a competitive analogy. Taylor knows that in order to get ahead and be successful, he needs each and every part of his team to work effectively. They share a common goal and work together to accomplish it.

So why is it important for leaders to be team players?

  • No man is an island. Going back to our first point, humility is of the utmost importance. Being a team player means that you’re working towards something together, not just individually. If you only focus on what your two hands can accomplish, that’s as far as you’ll ever get.
  • Each voice needs to be heard. Taylor mentioned building a game plan with everyone’s input. Building a great team means making decisions together. This breeds trust as you move forward toward achieving your goals.
  • Every member has their role. No team is made up of the same type of player. You have many personalities and responsibilities. While you may not treat each team member exactly the same, you should treat them all with the same respect. A team player, or better yet, a great coach, will do just that.

“A great leader should be a few things: A good listener, an effective communicator, and an awesome motivator. If you do those things well, the rest will fall into place.”

Mentorship

Justin listed three great qualities that can all be summed up in one word: Mentorship. Mentorship is a popular trend among many great leaders: Steve Jobs had Bill Campbell, Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates was mentored by Warren Buffet.

Great mentors, and in turn, great leaders, follow these trends:

  • They listen well. Too often leaders treat their one-on-ones as an item on their to-do list versus a chance to deepen their relationship with their employees. Great mentors put the relationship first, asking great questions and even more importantly, listening to the answers!
  • They speak honestly. Great mentors are honest, not just with criticisms, but with praises as well. As Justin mentioned, they know how to communicate effectively to produce strong results from their employees.
  • They push harder. Motivating others is the most contagious quality of a great mentor and leader. Mentors push others to be the best version of themselves, beyond just company goals and metrics. They focus on character and quality of work.

2018 HR Trends

2018 is in full force and we’ve been doing our research to see what’s trending this year for Human Resources.

2018 hr trends

Here are some hot topics we have ahead of us in 2018:

Bring Your Dog to Work Day, Every Day

According to Gallup, six in ten Americans own a pet. As HR looks to attract high quality talent, offering a pet-friendly workplace could be the next sought-after perk for those who don’t want to leave Fluffy at home.

Wellness is Out, Well-Being is In

You may have noticed the trend towards focusing on the whole being, including our mental health, in the last year. Expect more focus on well-being in 2018, as we explore more ways to practice self-care.

Taking a Stand

Nope, we’re not talking about politics. We’re talking taking a literal stand in the office. Ergonomic chairs and exercise balls are taking a back seat to the standing desk trends and more employers seek to offer this option to their employees.

Stay at Home Dads are the New Fad

New tax incentives have made it easier for companies, like Starbucks, to offer more paid leave options for their employees, including paternity leave for new dads. We anticipate they won’t be the only ones offering more paid leave in the upcoming year.

Equal Pay is Here to Stay

Iceland started off the New Year by announcing their new equal pay law that makes it illegal for men to make more than women. Expect more laws, not just policies, to come in 2018.

What else do you think we’ll make history in 2018? Leave us your best guess in the comments!