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6 Ways to Foster a Sense of Belonging in Your Workplace

You Belong

Workplace studies in recent years consistently show that employees are increasingly seeking more than just competitive salaries and benefits in their employment; they’re also looking for a sense of belonging and purpose. Even if you pay competitive rates, modern employees need to also feel like their work is meaningful, and that they’re a valued member of not only your company – but also its community. 

In the wake of the ‘Great Resignation’, some have begun to call this increasing trend towards employees seeking belonging in the workplace as the ‘Great Reflection’, with work-from-home and rapidly changing economic conditions leading many to think big-picture about their lives, their work, and what it all really means

So what can you do to help bring your employees a sense of purpose in their work? Start with these six tips for building a constructive and meaningful environment!

1) Collectively Define Company Culture

Promote the value of diverse opinions and employees participating in defining company culture; remember, the purpose of your organization isn’t simply a by-line decided by the executive team, it should be a set of values held and agreed upon across the entire org!

2) Focus on Sustainable Performance

Focus on sustainable long-term performance rather than driving for overly ambitious performance. In the long run, a sustainable performer is 17% more productive than an average employee. They’re also 1.7x more likely to stay with their current organization! Ultra-high performers can lead to a quick burst, but are ultimately unsustainable.

3) Keep Employee Wellness in Mind

Pay attention to individual employee needs and mental well-being. There’s a fine line between being considerate and prying. Even so, make sure employees feel safe in confiding and addressing wellness concerns by providing a considerate and honest atmosphere.

4) Get Rid of Micromanagement

Throw out micro-managerial behavior and give employees the freedom to approach their work in the ways they’re most comfortable. Trusting employees to be responsible for their own work not only tends to improve quality, it also empowers them with a sense of value towards their position in the wider organization!

5) Refine your Processes to Cut Busywork

Always be looking for ways to axe busywork in favor of refining business-critical processes. The more unnecessary red tape you can cut out and the more trust placed in individual employees to carry out important aspects of your business model, the more they’ll feel like a direct part of what makes the business run. Trapping rockstar employees in mundane day-in day-out work is sure to kill their sense of purpose in the organization! 

6) Make your Workplace Human-Centric

While productivity is the ultimate goal of any organization, companies are always made up of diverse individuals. Feeling like cogs in a machine is absolute anathema to building any sense of purpose. The most important objective of human resources has to be making employees feel like they’re part of something more. ‘Human-centric’ is a broad term that can include company-wide pride events all the way down to individual check-ins and honest, open conversations. But whatever approach you take, it all comes down to the same core principle. Show your employees that they’re seen and valued as people, not just productivity numbers on a spreadsheet. 

 

Building Belonging with PerkSpot

At the end of the day, building belonging is really about recognizing your employees as unique individuals and treating them, their skills, and their time with respect. And that’s good advice in general, not just for imparting a sense of purpose within your organization! Whether it’s in work or life, when you treat people with respect and purpose, they notice – and the whole business benefits.

Interested in learning more ways to improve your organizational culture? Check out PerkSpot’s five focus areas for a better workplace!

 

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!

Why Managing Isn’t Necessarily Leading

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

These are the five ways managers are different than leaders:

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

1. Vision

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

2. Humility

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

3. Trust

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

4. Confidence

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

5. Perspective

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

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

How I’m Contributing to a Better Workplace

Our mission at PerkSpot is to inspire employees to love where they work. But sometimes, it’s the employees themselves who are inspiring us. We asked a few PerkSpotters to share a few ways they try to make a difference.

Here are our favorite quotes from inside the walls of the PerkSpot:

Office Snacks

“I like to try and pick up a snack or treat once a week so people can get a break in the afternoon. It’s a small gesture, but a great way to bring everyone together.”
– Thomas B., Account Manager

Water Cooler Chat

“I try to follow up on things posted by coworkers on Slack to get to know people better and reinforce that their messages weren’t just sent out into the void – we care about it! Plus when people ask about my puppy it automatically brightens my day, so I like to try to do the same!”
– Kelly R., Account Management Associate

Neighborhood Treats

“I’ve always been a raised to share and give to others. It’s something my parents instilled in. So sharing stuff with PerkSpot has always made me feel like I’m sharing a piece of my childhood. Whenever I can, I bring delicious stuff from my neighborhood. PerkSpotters always ask ‘where did you get this’. It’s my way of sharing a piece of my neighborhood and the south side of Chicago.”
– Karla B., CS Lead

Positivity

“Attitudes are contagious – I always try (don’t always succeed, but try) to project a positive attitude, regardless of how stressed or anxious I am, with the hope that it spreads to my coworkers.”
– DJ E., Sales Operations Executive

Musical Favorites

“I like to find a person’s music and queue it up on the office stereo system. Unless it’s that one Mariah Carey Christmas song. I just. No.”
– Jace M., CEO

PerkSpotters are pretty great (and clearly we really love snacks), but we know it takes an army to build a Better Workplace. That’s why we’ve literally written the book on it.

We’re excited to announce our e-book, The Ultimate Guide to a Better Workplace where you can learn more about what it takes to make each place a better place to work.

the ultimate guide to a better workplace

 

How Do You Manage a Toxic Employee?

As much as we love to talk about great company cultures, the truth of the matter is that not every company is going to live up to these standards. Chances are at some point in your career you’ll be faced with some form of a toxic workplace. Hopefully, it’s just one or two people, but in extreme circumstances, it can be a systemic problem.

Signs of Toxic Employees

First of all, we need to know the warning signs of toxic employees. While many of the signs are obvious, some can be fairly nuanced and it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open.

Greta Gossip

“Did you hear…” This one is pretty obvious. Gossip and negatively is extremely contagious. Catch this before it gets out of hand.

Procrastinating Paul

“I’ll do it later…” Someone might be hopping into your head immediately. While this doesn’t always signal toxicity, it’s definitely something worth keeping an eye on.

Ellen Excuses

“I would do that but…” This is not only toxic, but it’s also annoying. Employees who are full of excuses can be hard to trust and rely on.

Michael Martyr

“I’ve been here until 9pm every night”. Sometimes our culture is quick to reward these over-achievers, but maybe it’s time to examine why they are staying in the office so late and if their work really merits the long hours.

Loner Larry

“I can do this myself”. Sometimes your highest achievers can also be the most toxic. Examine how the people around them are feeling and if they’re able to collaborate to achieve great results.

How to Manage Toxic Employees

Now that you’ve determined where toxicity might be living in your company, it’s time to do something about it. As HR leaders, managers, or individual contributors, there are a few ways to manage toxic employees (even if it means managing up).

Ask Honest Questions

While you may think it’s none of your business to dive into an employee’s personal life, if it’s affecting work, it’s time to find out what’s going on beneath the surface. Meet with this employee one-on-one and ask honest, direct questions to find out where they might be struggling. They don’t have to go into detail but having an idea of where they need more support will get you both back on the right track. Offer counseling resources if that’s an option, or find other ways to get to the root of the problem.

Lay Out Potential Consequences

Unfortunately there is a time when you have to start talking about the “or else” consequences of their actions. If the toxic behavior continues, the employee needs to know what actions you’ll take to prevent them or eliminate them all together.

Make a Plan for Follow-Up

You’ve gotten to the root of the issue. You’ve laid out the consequences. Now it’s time to put a plan in place for follow-up. This means scheduling regular one-on-ones to monitor their progress and support them on their journey. Hopefully, you already have one-on-one times in place for your employees, but if not, this is a great opportunity. Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly – whatever works for you, but make sure they’re consistent and you don’t cancel when other responsibilities vie for your time.

Determine Next Steps

Best case scenario is that your employee does a 180 and becomes a star in your organization. However, it’s unlikely that will happen. That doesn’t mean it will result in termination, but it could mean switching the employee into a different role or changing up their responsibilities for the time-being. Keep a careful eye on their progress and be open to making moves in the future.

If you’re fighting toxicity in your workplace, we hope these tips are helpful for identifying and managing toxic employees. Have advice for someone fighting toxicity? Leave us a note in the comments.

The One Thing HR Leaders Do Every Day

You might be in the middle of Open Enrollment Season. You could also be working on some new initiatives for 2019. Maybe you’re ramping up for annual performance reviews. We get it. As HR professionals, you are busy.

 

In the midst of the chaos and day-to-day tasks that inevitably take over, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s truly important. That’s why we’re taking a time-out to discuss the one thing great HR leaders do every day, no matter what might come their way.

The one thing great HR leaders do every day is build relationships.

You’re in the business of humans, which means building deep, authentic relationships should be at the very core of what you do. According to Jim Mitchell, an executive coach, “Most leaders have been so busy building empires, they forgot to build relationships. Most think their job is to fix everything that is presented to them as a conundrum. But that’s not the job.” Beyond hiring and developing talent, improving retention, and creating strategies for engagement, there exists a very real need for true connections in the workplace.

Here are a few ways we can foster these relationships in practical ways:

Go beyond the surface.

Think about your relationships at work for a minute. Do they look and feel similar to your interactions at the grocery store or the gym? What do you know about your colleagues beyond what their calendar says? It’s easy to think that, as HR representatives, we should keep a safe distance from our colleagues. However, there is a healthy way to engage and interact with the people around us to improve employee engagement. In fact, in SHRM’s 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report 77% of engaged employees said their relationships with coworkers was a top priority for them. Don’t be afraid to participate in non-work chatter and learn a little about the people around you. It can mean more than you know.

Listen.

How often do you utter the phrase “how are you?” without actually listening to the answer? Better yet, what about the non-verbal cues your colleague expresses? Do they actually seem “fine”, or is there looming anxiety beneath the surface? One of the best ways to engage in authentic relationships at work is to listen well. Listen to understand. Listen with purpose and intention. Listen with compassion and curiosity. You’ll be amazed at what you’ve missed in the past.

Be vulnerable.

While much of fostering great relationships involves paying attention to the other person, it is also important that we live by example. Practice vulnerability by being open with those around you. When someone asks how your day is going, don’t be afraid to tell them the truth. Obviously, as leaders, we have the responsibility to maintain positivity so we aren’t giving you permission to unload all your complaints. However, there is a way to be vulnerable, honest, and transparent that creates a safe space for your employees to share. Tell them how your project is going and what challenges you’re facing. You may appreciate the sounding board and they’ll start to view you as a little more human.

Recognize their achievements.

If you think about your relationships outside of the workplace, we know the value of saying “thank you” when your friends bring over a gift or when your spouse makes dinner. So why is it that inside the workplace, we view recognition as an after-thought? As you seek to foster meaningful relationships, we cannot leave out this key component for great relationships. While it all starts by listening and paying attention to your employees and colleagues, you should also remember to recognize their efforts. Just because they’re taking home a paycheck doesn’t mean they don’t need to hear a thank you every once in a while.

As you’re making your to-do list or wrapping up a project, remember that being an HR professional is not possible without also being human. Engage with the people around you and work to build better relationships this week.

Onboarding 101

It is hiring season here at PerkSpot! We are super excited to bring on some new talent, but with that, comes the challenge of onboarding new employees well and integrating them into our culture.

As you look to attract, recruit and onboard new talent, here are few tips that we’ve learned along the way.

Before They Start

In order to make the first day/week run as smoothly as possible, it’s important to start this process before day one. Make sure you have sent out all the necessary paperwork for them to complete, think through all the tools they might need (both tech and otherwise), and maybe even implement a little fun. You could have their favorite breakfast waiting for them when they arrive or maybe their favorite snacks to munch on throughout the day. These small gestures go a long way in making your new employee feel welcome.

Day One

All your ducks in a row and now you’re anxious and waiting for your new hire to start! There should always be some flexibility built into your onboarding plan, but it’s important to start with a clear agenda and expectations for your new hire. Their manager should outline a plan for their first 90 days and sit down to walk them through the role and how to be successful. And don’t forget about the big picture! Sometimes we can dive right into the nitty gritty without discussing how their role plays into the overall mission of the business. Discuss how they’ll play a part in making your company successful so they’ll feel empowered to make a difference.

Week One

The first week is a great time to start with a team meeting and key introductions for people they’ll be working with the most. For many of our new hires, we start their first day with a team meeting to discuss what we’re working on currently, schedule job shadowing sessions throughout the week so they can get a feel for each department, and arrange one-on-one time with the key contacts they’ll be working alongside. While knowledge is important, getting to know the people on their team and in the company will ensure that they feel comfortable reaching out when they need help.

Month One

Onboarding doesn’t just begin and end in their first week. Depending on the role, it could take months to truly feel up to speed and comfortable. Make sure you plan a check-in at least after the first 30 days (we rely on weekly check-ins at PerkSpot) to stay in the know on where they’re struggling or excelling. You should have established some expectations on the first day for where they should be at this point, so revisit that plan and make adjustments as needed. You may discover the need for additional training or resources or find that they are able to tackle projects more quickly than anticipated. Either way, this is a great time to course correct and plan for the following months.

What are some tips you’ve found helpful for onboarding? We’d love to hear from you!

The Dos and Don’ts of Great Company Culture

We all want to create a better place to work. In fact, it’s in our very DNA here at PerkSpot as we stand by the mission to “inspire employees everywhere to love where they work”.

In light of this goal, what can we as managers, human resource officers, or even individual contributors do to make every place a great place to work?

Here are the Dos and Don’ts of Great Company Culture:

Do Keep Your Values in Check

From planning a meeting to working on an article, it’s vital that your values stay at the forefront of what you do at work. Our values at PerkSpot are “we aim high”, “we stay humble”, “we value people”, and “we have fun”. They are practical and applicable in almost every situation. If your values aren’t serving you and your company in the same way, consider revamping them or find ways to live these out on a daily basis.

Don’t Micromanage

Think you’re not a micromanager? Here are a few signs you might be more than you think:
You’re never quite satisfied with deliverables.
You are often frustrated at the way the work is completed.
You take pride and/or pain in making corrections.
You constantly want to know where your team members are and what they’re working on.
You prefer to be CC’d on emails.

Do Communicate

While you shouldn’t micromanage, it’s still important to communicate clearly with your employees. Need help? Start by explaining the “why”, not just the “what”. It may seem frustrating that you have to spend time explaining why something needs to happen (especially when you’re the boss!).  However, taking an extra five minutes to explain the reasoning behind what you’re doing will not only save you time in the long run but will empower your employees or coworkers to own the task at hand. They’ll produce better work when they feel ownership and responsibility, which is the key to a great culture.

Don’t Think Corporate Jargon Makes You “Cool”

Have you ever been in an interview or a meeting where the person spouted off an endless string of pretentious (and meaningless) words? Corporate jargon is a trap many companies fall into, but in the end, does nothing for company culture. Avoid using buzzwords and say what you mean. This will help you communicate more clearly and also seem more approachable to prospective employees.

Do Keep Learning

One of the marks of a great company culture is one that fosters an environment of learning and professional development. After all, we never stop learning and growing and that’s exactly why we go to work in the first place! The best place to start is with yourself: grab a book, take a class, and encourage others to go with you. Hunger for growth is contagious.

Don’t Try to Be an Expert at Everything

Just like there is a little bit of micromanager in all of us, there is also a desire to be an expert at everything. This type of drive can be great when it comes to wanting to learn and grow. However, we can often overdo it by trying to be the very best at everything. It’s important to recognize and depend on your team to provide their expertise and to try to hone your skills in your area. We aren’t saying you can’t always get better at excel, even as a creative, or take a painting class as an accountant. Learning opposite skills is great, but thinking you’ll be the very best at everything is just plain wrong. Not only that, but it can cause tension when others are not given the opportunity to also show their strengths.

These are just a few tips to make your company culture stand out. What ways are you making your office a better place to work? Leave us a note in the comments!

6 Everyday Employee Engagement Tips

Today’s world of HR focuses a lot of time, effort and money on fancy employee engagement systems. While obviously it’s important to develop a clear strategy and invest in your employees, there are also simple ways to focus on employee engagement right now.

Here are six everyday employee engagement tips:

Revise Your Onboarding Strategy

Employee engagement starts on day one. Maybe you work in a small company (like PerkSpot!) that doesn’t have a full-blown onboarding program for new hires. For many employees, stepping foot into a new office can feel like stepping out of a plane into a foreign country. Be sure to include them in team activities, cross-departmental meetings, and explain any concepts that may be unique to your business or brand. This will ensure they feel included and as a result, engaged!

Listen and Respond

This is a complete no-brainer, but so many times we go through the motions without stopping to take a moment to listen to our employees. Think about the last time you had a one-on-one with one of your employees. If it’s been over two weeks, it’s time to schedule another. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s super important to keep up with your employees. Whether it’s a five-minute check-in or an hour-long chat at the nearby coffee shop, take time this week to learn how you can serve them a little better.

Talk About Something Other Than Work

As managers or HR officials, it’s often difficult to engage with employees on a more personal level, but when it comes to employee engagement, this might be the missing key. We aren’t telling you to spill your deepest, darkest secrets to your employees, but maybe take a moment this week to ask them about that movie they saw recently or that restaurant they just visited. Spend time getting to know them. You may find yourself understanding more about their work habits as a result and they’ll appreciate your interest.

Recognize Their Efforts

Again, a complete no-brainer when it comes to employee engagement, but why is it that only a third of U.S. employees say they’ve received recognition in the past week? It’s easy to forget to say “thank you” or “job well done”, but it’s so important. Consider ways to recognize your top performers this week and show your appreciation.

With PerkSpot, we make it easy to acknowledge employees with real-time recognition and rewards.

Be Transparent

Do you sit on a board that receives inside information? Are you part of the C-Suite? If you’re privy to info that the rest of the company might not know, consider opportunities to share these insights with your employees. Obviously, some information is sensitive and can’t be shared, but where there are opportunities to be transparent, make sure you are taking advantage. Share different challenges leadership is facing or exciting new directions where the company is looking to grow.

Evaluate Responsibilities

One of the quickest ways for employees to get burnt out or bored is to fill their lives with checklists, not responsibilities. In the chaos of work, it’s easy to get lost in millions of to-dos, without taking time to be strategic. Consider ways your employees can step up and own projects, not just simple tasks. Give them ownership and responsibility and find ways to push them to grow. This will ensure they stay engaged and motivated throughout their career.

What are some ways you’ve found to keep your employees engaged every day?

Shocking Statistics: The State of the Workplace in 2018

2018 has proven to be an exciting year for employee engagement. As we ramp up our efforts to engage and retain more of our workforce, how are we doing?

Here are a few shocking statistics we think you should know about the state of the workplace in 2018 and a number of ways to combat them:

The Shocking Stat:

80% of workers feel stressed on the job.

The Solution: Implement Professional Development Opportunities

While it may seem counterintuitive to add more to an employee’s plate, 48% of employees say that investing in professional development is one of the highest-impact strategies to combating stress that their company can do. Providing opportunities for employees to learn and grow and investing in them as individuals can do wonders for their overall well-being.

Think this seems obvious? Maybe it is, but only 30% of employees say they have someone who encourages their development at work which could be a reason why we’re seeing 80% of the population pulling out their hair.

If you want to do more to encourage professional development at work, start here.

The Shocking Stat:

Of the 5 billion people on the planet, only 1.4 billion have a good job, and just 16% of those are engaged.

The Solution: Offer Competitive Benefits and Perks

Start by considering what makes a good job in the first place. According to 21% of Millennials, a good work environment is defined as one that offers incentives and perks.  Are your benefits competitive? Do your employees constantly stress about their physical or financial health?

Find ways to ease the burden by offering competitive benefits plans and/or a perks program to help employees stretch their paycheck.

The Shocking Stat:

89% of bosses believe employees quit for more money. The truth? Only 12% of employees actually leave for more money.

The Solution: Empower Leadership

If it’s not salary, what is the problem? Studies show that 75% of employees leave their job because of their boss. This could be because 58% of managers today have not received any form of management training.

Professional development should not be limited to lower level employees. Make sure you’re empowering your management teams to lead well. This means focusing on transparency and mentorship among your leaders and again, creating those opportunities for them to learn and grow as well.

The Shocking Stat:

12% of businesses are happy with their current level of employee engagement.

The Solution: Recognize, Reward, Retain

Although 90% of leaders think an engagement strategy would help, less than 25% actually have one. How can we expect to improve employee engagement without setting a real strategy in place?

One of the biggest ways to impact employee satisfaction and retention is with a simple “job well done”. It’s easy to forget to recognize employees’ achievements, but doing so can make or break employee happiness. In fact, 47% of employees say they would like to receive rewards spontaneously.

Creating strategies to reward and recognize employees, like PerkSpot’s recognition program, means making a difference for your employees and your business.

Want to find more solutions for your employee engagement strategies? Chat with us today about how PerkSpot could change the state of your workforce.