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4 Ways to Help Employees Stay Grounded This Winter

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

Winter, Employee Wellness

 

Encourage Incorporating Movement Into Every Day

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

Support Employees Taking Advantage of Time Off

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

Prioritize Downtime 

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

Inspire Employees to Invest In a New Hobby 

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

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

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

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.

Starting the Conversation

World Mental Health Day was yesterday, which makes this the perfect time to start the conversation in your workplace about mental health.

world-mental-health-day

What is Mental Health?

Before we can begin the conversation about mental health, let’s dive into understanding mental health and the stigma surrounding it. At a general level, mental health can be defined as “our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.” It directly relates to how we think, feel, and behave. Most common of the mental health conditions are anxiety, mood, and schizophrenia disorders, according to Medical News Today. Mental health problems, which can be diagnosed at any point in our lives, have the ability to affect every aspect of your life, but especially in the workplace. According to the World Health Organization, we spend one-third of our adult life at work, which can be a source of happiness and satisfaction, but also stress and anxiety at times. In fact, a quarter of Americans say work can be the root of their mental health issues.

So, Why the Stigma?

Despite 25% of Americans suffering from a mental illness due to work, eight of 10 report that “shame and stigma prevent them from seeking treatment,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Largely derived from the fact that there is a widespread lack of education regarding mental health and mental illnesses, it is often assumed that someone affected by a mental illness is merely being “irresponsible, lazy, or dangerous.” People fear disclosing any details about their illnesses because these qualities could become associated with them. In turn, this could open the door for colleagues and management to view them as incompetent employees.

One of the most important ways we can break down the negative stigma surrounding mental health is to talk about it. At times, it might feel awkward or inappropriate, but there are some great ways to beat the stigma and make a difference for mental health, without becoming too intrusive. Try these helpful tips when discussing mental health with coworkers, employees and yourself.

Talking to … Yourself

Perhaps the most important person in this conversation is yourself. You can only begin to feel secure talking about this subject once you have analyzed your own personal mental health. If you, like 20% of adults today, suffer from a mental health condition, reach out to the resources you feel will help the most. Sometimes it’s a coworker or boss, sometimes it’s a family member or friend, and sometimes it’s someone completely out of your personal circle, such as a mental health counselor.

Don’t feel guilty or ashamed of how you’re feeling, but do try to seek out assistance. Whatever you choose is perfectly acceptable as long as it aids you in finding the help you need. Our mental health goes beyond mental illness, and everyone can take steps to preserve their mental health. Sleep, health, and exercise are all vital elements to a healthy mind and body. Pay attention to what your body and mind are telling you before you reach out to others.

Talking to … Employees

According to the Fortune.com, approximately 43.8 million adults in America experience mental illnesses in a year. However, only 41% of those adults have received the help they needed! Often the aforementioned negative stigma pervades many workplaces. Leaders in the workplace can break down these walls by helping employees feel comfortable approaching them with this information, especially if they believe it is negatively impacting their work. That being said, the best thing you can do for your employees is to educate yourself. Learn about the resources available, how to appropriately discuss them, and extra steps you can take to ensure the best mental health for your employees. Reinforce with each employee that it is a judgment-free zone if and when they choose to discuss their mental health.

Talking to … Coworkers

Maybe you don’t have the status in your workspace to completely implement new mental health resource programs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an effect throughout the office. Encourage fellow coworkers to participate in any educational programs available to them. If these don’t exist, there are still options! Suggest activities both in and outside of the office that can help foster a strong relationship among co-workers. This camaraderie will ensure they have support if they ever need to speak to someone. In fact, studies show that having friends at work can improve employee happiness and morale.

In addition, take the time to recognize your colleagues when they’ve done some great work. Some companies offer a designated program for this (like PerkSpot’s Rewards & Recognition), but if yours doesn’t, something as simple as a handwritten note or e-card sending your appreciation could help in boosting someone’s self-esteem and mood!

Beginning the discussion about mental health can be difficult, but it’s absolutely vital to your employees’ overall health and wellness. Not only that, but it can also impact your company’s productivity and employee engagement. Creating an environment that makes your employees feel comfortable and welcome is of the utmost importance. While you can use World Mental Health Day to start the conversation, remember it’s something you should continue to talk about all year long.

Summer Wellness Tips for Every Office

It’s finally summer here in Chicago and we are so excited to see employees biking into work, enjoying lunches on the roof, and signing up for 5ks together.

Summer can be a great time to revamp your Health and Wellness initiatives at your workplace and we’ve got a few ideas to get you started.

Promote Healthy Eating

One of the great things about this season is that you don’t mind getting outside the office to grab something fresh and healthy. A small, but effective and practical way to help your employees stay healthy is to provide a list of healthy meal options close to your office. You can even create your own map on google maps and share it with the office.

Provide Meaningful Discounts

Gym memberships and healthy food options are often expensive. Lighten the load for your employees by offering these great initiatives at a discount. Enter PerkSpot. We’ve already done the negotiating so all you have to do is contact us to get started!

Coordinate Running (or Walking) Clubs

We have several people in our office who love hitting the pavement, especially in the summer. While others may need some extra incentive, walking or running clubs can be a great way to get everyone moving. Pick a day after work and promote the club around your office. You can even finish your run with a fun get-together after.

Hold a Healthy Potluck

Potlucks are a fun way to get everyone to mingle around the office and show off those cooking skills! Hold a potluck where everyone makes their favorite healthy recipe and brings it in to share. Employees will break out of the routine and maybe learn some new recipes while they’re at it.

What are your tips for keeping your office healthy? Share them with us in the comments!

Take a Stand (What It’s Really Like to Use a Standing Desk)

As Human Resources seeks to make the workplace a healthier and happier place, a new phenomenon has popped onto the scene in the past few years: The Standing Desk. What once started as a cardboard box, has now become a specialized piece of equipment that many offices are beginning to invest in. That’s why we wanted to know what it’s like to use a standing desk.

We all know it’s not good to sit still all day. In fact, standing for three hours a day is the equivalent of running 10 marathons a year and can burn 50 more calories an hour than sitting.

That’s why, I decided to give the standing desk a spin to see how beneficial it really is. Here’s my breakdown of using a standing desk every day for an hour during a work week.

Day One:

Using a standing desk is awkward at first. Do I bring a notebook with me? Will I be able to take notes? What work should I select for this hour? For starters, I felt very fidgety. I was very aware that I was standing on my feet and had a hard time getting started. Finally, after a few minutes I was in the zone and able to focus on my task at hand. I was amazed at how quickly the hour flew by! As soon as I sat back down in my chair, I started yawning again… I didn’t even realize I was tired before as being on my feet helped me stay alert.

Lesson Learned: Set it up correctly. I found that less is more when it came to setting up the standing desk. We have a screen attached to the desk, but the first day I chose to simply type on my laptop using the existing screen. Big mistake. Looking down at the screen was actually worse for me so the other four days I decided to hook up to the monitor and found that I was much more productive and felt better, too!

Day Two:

I decided to approach the desk with the bare essentials. With my laptop and a notebook in hand, I  started to work on a blog post. Immediately, I was super focused and stayed longer than my allotted time. My only regret was that I was wearing pretty uncomfortable shoes. After I finished my article, I physically took a step back from the screen to read over my writing. I really enjoyed being able to actually physically move my body to reflect on my work.

Lesson Learned: Use a mat and wear comfortable shoes. If you can, try to be as comfortable as possible while standing. Maybe don’t choose to work standing if you’re dressed up in heels or dress shoes for a meeting. This can cause more harm than good.

Day Three:

I decided to use this time to brainstorm. I had a few projects I needed to break ground on and something about being able to walk back and forth helped me feel more mobile and focused on the task at hand. Plus, I was able to take periodic breaks from my screen, which are always nice. I wore more comfortable shoes this time and stayed for a little over an hour.

Lesson Learned: Don’t be a statue. Using a standing desk can be awkward, but don’t be afraid to embrace the freedom you have with so much mobility. During my brainstorming, I chose to pace or twist my body back and forth to help me stay alert and focus my mind.

Day Four:

My time got cut short this day to go into a meeting. I was also working on a more heads-down task and noticed it was harder for me to accomplish this work while standing. The location of our standing desk makes it more prone for distraction, which is a negative. Brainstorming and writing seem to be better tasks suited for standing.

Lesson Learned: Start slow. Don’t stay longer than necessary. Maybe chose a task and stay standing until you complete it. That’s how I chose to start and the time flew by, but had I been switching back and forth from job to job, it might have been more distracting than productive.

Day Five:

It’s funny how in a few short days I no longer feel awkward approaching the desk. I know exactly what to bring, which shoes to wear, and what tasks to accomplish. Plus, I’ve hit my stand goal every single day this week – always a bonus.

Lesson Learned: Figure out which tasks work for you. This was probably the biggest lesson I learned in this week. Not all tasks are suitable for standing. Experiment with different goals to figure out which ones work best for you. You’ll be amazed the effects it can have on your productivity!

Working at a standing desk is a unique situation and a small amount of preparation before you switch up your workflow will help you make the most of it.

Hygge at the Office

If you’re into wellness you may have heard about a new trend called Hygge. According to the Oxford Dictionaries, Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)”. What is a seemingly simple word has become a lifestyle for many as they seek to incorporate this sense of balance in their everyday life.

As we start 2018, it’s fitting to start off on a note of positivity and balance. What better way to do that than by adding Hygge into our mantra for the new year.
Here are a few ways we’re cultivating Hygge at work:
Make your space your own.
Whether you’re always on the go or sit stationary in a cubicle, make your workspace your own by adding pictures of loved ones to your dashboard or adding plants to your desk. PerkSpotter Frank added a cactus to his desk, which is proven to reduce stress, increase productivity, improve air quality and more.

hygge at the office perkspot

Make your lunch break count.

It can be easy to get caught up in your endless list of to-dos, but don’t forget that moments of space and rest can provide meaningful restoration for what’s ahead. Take time to break. Savor your food and enjoy the moments of stillness. Our fellow PerkSpotter, Karla (@eatingwithkarly) takes pride in every meal she creates and even posts her food prep on instagram to share. We love seeing the detail she takes in making her lunch every day. Just one of many ways Karla inspires us here at PerkSpot.

A post shared by Karly (@eatingwithkarly) on

Make meditation part of your day.

You’ve heard it before and we’ll say it again: practice mindfulness. Take two minutes to stop and breathe. Maybe you start a routine every hour on the hour. Maybe it’s just once in the morning and once in the afternoon. But by taking time to stop and clear your head, you’re on your way to a more positive frame of mind. Nick and Dan, pictured below, are taking time this morning to stop and breathe. They said they already felt more Zen.
hygge at the office perkspot

Make moves.

Try sitting in different areas of your office or walking around the neighborhood. Moving around, especially in the colder months, is vital to keeping your blood flowing and your mind working. Take a moment to try out different spaces whenever you can. PerkSpotter Zach B. loves stealing time in the lounge to focus on the latest tech project up his sleeve.

hygge at the office perkspot

These are a few simple ways we’re incorporating Hygge at PerkSpot. How will you find balance in 2018?

Looking for more tips for the workplace? Subscribe to culture to get insights delivered directly to your inbox each month!

Why Your Coffee Addiction is Your Healthiest Habit (Or, How to Drink Caffeine Like a Scientist)

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.

Conquer the Sunday Night Blues

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.

Why We Decided to Offer Sabbaticals This Year

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?

Employee Appreciation Day!

Today is Employee Appreciation Day!

To commemorate this special day, we’re giving you a few ideas on how to appreciate your employees and introducing you to a few of the PerkSpotters who make the office a better place to work.

Celebrate Birthdays

celebrate birthday employee appreciation day

Not only is today employee appreciation day, but it’s also this guy’s birthday! Dan currently holds the record for most years at PerkSpot (and most push-ups). He is the ultimate idea man, always cooking up a new way to make us better and keep the office exciting. So today, with breakfast sandwiches and candles, we’ll celebrate Dan and let him know that we’re glad he was born 21 years ago (don’t worry, DB, the real number is our little secret). If you’re thinking about celebrating birthdays at work, we say GO FOR IT! Here are a few things from our friends at SHRM that you’ll need to know before you roll out a birthday program.

Share Their Story

share stories employee appreciation day

Hands-down one of the hardest working PerkSpotters is our Client Service Lead, Karla. From bestowing exotic treats on us to filling the office with her laughs to completing more customer service calls than we thought humanly possible… Karla is basically superwoman. Actually, she’s so awesome, we thought everyone should know. So when the Chicago Tribune approached us to highlight an employee, we immediately thought of her. Being able to celebrate her life in a major outlet was such a thrill for us and a great way for Karla to see how much we value her contribution to our team. She’s kind of a big deal, and we thought the world should know.

Embrace Life Changes

embrace life changes employee appreciation day

So much is changing around the PerkSpot office, including introducing our first PS baby into the world. We were so excited to congratulate Anthony on the birth of his daughter. He recently rejoined our team after three weeks of paternity leave and we were anxious to hear how he filled his time with his family. Anthony is a major force behind the PerkSpot wheel, bringing in new and exciting clients, so it was an easy choice to give him the well-deserved break from office life to embrace this new change. Plus, Fast Company studied California organizations implementing paternity leave and saw that 89% reported increased productivity and employee morale and a decrease in turnover. So while being out the office was not only great for Anthony’s well-being, we’re also excited to see what he brings to the table with his refreshed energy. Welcome Back, Anthony!

 Allow for Flex Schedules

work from home policies employee appreciation dayOne of the biggest perks at PerkSpot is the ability to flex our schedules and work from home. Our masterful designer, Evan, graciously takes on so many projects for us and we all know Wednesdays are Evan’s day to work from home. We are so appreciative of the attention to detail and creativity that goes into each of his designs. Thursday he comes back with incredible work to show for his time spent away from the office distractions. In fact, we think he might have magic pajamas. Magic pajamas or not, a Stanford University study reported a 13 percent performance increase in workers who had the ability to work from home one day a week versus not at all. This could be the easiest employee appreciation tactic for your company to boost morale and get ahead.

Treat Them to a Night Out

work perks employee appreciation day

Our master appreciator, Leia, is constantly spending her efforts at PerkSpot recognizing others. After planning our anniversary party last fall, Leia definitely deserved some R&R. Boss’s orders were to take a week off and enjoy a nice dinner on the company. Just a small way of saying we see all the many, many things she does to make our office a better place to work. Whether it’s a gift card to their favorite restaurant,or just a day of rest, small tokens of appreciation mean more than you might think.

What makes your employees worth celebrating? Consider ways to recognize them today!