Workplace stress is not inevitable. Here are some simple techniques to lower your own levels.
According to the American Psychological Association, stress can result in headache, muscle tension, muscle pain, chest pain, fatigue, upset stomach, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, lack of focus, irritability, depression, eating problems, addiction and social withdrawal.
Here are six techniques that I’ve picked up over the years and now use on a daily basis.
1. Create an Oasis
In the past, people worked 9 to 5; in today’s business environments, there’s pressure to work 24/7. Needless to say, that pressure generates oodles of stress.
An absurdly easy way to get reduce that stress is to shut down your computer and your cell-not just while you sleep, but also an hour and after you sleep.
This takes discipline, because you’re probably in habit of checking email, texts and so forth. This also takes self-confidence, because you must believe that you need to be at the constant beck and call of your boss, colleagues and customers. Do it anyway.
2. Find the ‘Sweet Spots’
Having an overlong to-do list can a huge source of stress, because it feels like you can never get those tasks completed. Here’s a thought: Why bother?
Instead, categorize each task by difficulty and then by potential impact. You’ll probably find there are about 10 tasks that are both easy and will have a large impact. Hit those “sweet spots” first.
In most cases, you’ll achieve 80 percent of your goals by only doing 20 percent of the work. And that takes the pressure off, thereby reducing stress. As a bonus stress reliever, ignore those tasks that are hard and won’t have much of an impact anyway.
3. Renegotiate Your Workload
Unreasonable expectation of what you’re capable of accomplishing are a huge source of stress-regardless of whether those expectations come from yourself, from your boss, or from your customers.
The cure for this kind of stress is a dose of reality. Look at how much time you’ve got to spend, asses the amount of work that needs to be done, and, based on that, be realistic about what’s actually going to get done. If you’re expected to accomplish A,B,C and D, and there’s only time to achieve three of the four.
4. Turn Off the News
The news media, like every other form of entertainment, makes money by producing strong emotions in its audience. Outside business news, those emotions are almost exclusively negative: anger, fear, anxiety, dread, and frustration.
While those manufactured emotions do provide momentary distraction from work stress, they do it by adding more stress. Watching or listening to the news in order “to relax” is like having beer to dull the pain of a hangover; it only makes things worse in the long run.
So whenever there’s a news story that starts to make you angry or upset, change the channel, unless it’s a 100 percent relevant to your life.
5. Disconnect from the Uncontrollable
There are always events that you simply can’t control: the economy, traffic, politics, other people’s emotions, customer decisions, and so forth.
While it can be useful to observe and predict such events, once you’ve decided how you’ll deal with them, it’s stressful to continue to focus on them.
Worrying about stuff you can’t control isn’t going to make an iota of difference either in the short or the long run. It’s wasted energy and extra stress you don’t need. Change what can change and shrug off what you can’t.
6. Avoid Stressed People
You may not realize it, but your physiology is programmed to mirror the physiology of the people around you. In other words you can “catch” stress from other people.
So although it may not be possible to avoid stressed people all the time, you should try, as far as possible, to limit your contact with such people. At that point, the opposite effect kicks in, because the calmness you will have achieved is also contagious.
Several Ways to Improve Your Hiring Process
One of the most important ongoing tasks you’ll have as a business leader is hiring. It’s not easy, though; it’s a time-consuming process with monetary and reputational consequences if you make a bad hire.
Taking the time to find the right person — someone who is not just technically capable but also a good fit for the company — is important. Companies that are successful in hiring have a process that includes attracting high-quality candidates, evaluating them in several different areas, and taking the time to get to know the people in different ways. Here are nine tips to build and improve your own hiring process.
Write better job descriptions.
If you’re not careful, the way your job posting is written can deter great candidates from applying. Many companies write detailed descriptions with long lists of responsibilities and requirements, but a study by researchers in the United States and Canada found that this can actually alienate qualified employees, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In the study, researchers rewrote 56 job ads to emphasize two different approaches: the “Needs-Supplies” approach, which focuses on what the company can do for the candidate, and the “Demands-Abilities” approach, which focuses on what the company expects from the candidate. Of the 991 responses, applicants who responded to “Needs-Supplies” job listings were rated higher than those who responded to the “Demands-Abilities” ads. The more successful postings included statements such as “We seek to provide employees with constructive feedback to foster their career growth,” and “You will have many opportunities to collaborate with talented people.” The takeaway? Put more of the focus on what your company can do for potential employees, and you’ll attract candidates who better fit your needs.
Embrace digital trends and social media.
Most people want to work for companies that keep up with the latest tech trends. A survey by MIT and Deloitte found that the vast majority of respondents, ages 22 to 60, want to work for digitally enabled organizations, which means businesses will have to stay ahead of the curve in order to retain employees and attract new ones.
Another good way to embrace the digital side is to make sure your career site is mobile-friendly. According to a 2015 Pew Research survey, nearly 30 percent of American adults have used their smartphone in some way for their job search, including browsing job listings (94 percent of smartphone job seekers), filling out online job applications (50 percent) and creating a resume or cover letter (23 percent).
Focus on soft skills.
Although the right skill set may seem like the most important factor in whether a candidate is a good fit for a particular role, the truth is that skills can be acquired, but personalities cannot.
“Social intelligence — being able to navigate social situations and work well with others — is very important,” said Maynard -, a San Francisco-based psychologist and founding principal of consulting firm Working Resources.
“Don’t become pigeonholed into thinking the person with the exact necessary experience is the right person for the role,” added Tom Gimbel, CEO and founder of staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network. “Consider soft skills — like interpersonal skills, communication skills, thought processes and emotional intelligence — because they matter.”
Check social media profiles.
Like most employers, you’ll probably do a background check (or at least a quick Google search on the candidate’s name) to see what comes up about that person online. But if you’re not looking through the candidate’s social media profiles, you could be missing a key way to find out more about the individual as a person and an employee — for better or for worse.
While it’s legally risky to allow a candidate’s social media activity to factor into your hiring decisions, it can give you a better picture of someone you’re interested in hiring. In another Business News Daily article, Aliah Wright, a manager with the Society For Human Resource Management, said that social media can be used as a skills assessment, especially if a candidate has professional blog posts or portfolio work.
Ask the right kinds of questions.
You can’t come right out and ask someone if they’re a jerk, but you can ask questions that will help you figure it out on your own. “If you ask someone why they left their last job and they blame someone else, it’s important to follow up with another question,” said Paul Harvey, a professor of management at the University of New Hampshire. “If they continue to blame external forces for their problems, you may want to look for another employee.”
So what are some other great questions to ask? John Schwarz, CEO and founder of workforce analytics company Visier, said answers to questions such as, “Who are you going to be 10 years from today?” and “What makes you get up in the morning and do what you do?” can tell you a lot about a candidate’s drive and ambition.
Let candidates interview you, too.
Allowing prospective employees to interview you will give you a chance to see what’s important to them, Brusman said. Plus, it will give candidates a chance to determine that they want to keep pursuing a job at your company, or to decide that it’s not the right fit for them.
“Be open and honest about what it’s going to be like to work for your company,” Brusman said. “You want to give a realistic preview of the work environment.”
5 Benefits of Hiring Temporary Workers
A boost of manpower at your company has many benefits, but this influx of staff also comes with its own set of challenges. So why you should consider hiring temporary workers in the first place? Whether you’re stocking up on staff for the summer tourist season, or bringing on extra talent for a special project, short-term hires can help your company in a number of ways. Here’s a look at the top five benefits of temporary hiring.
It provides flexibility in an unstable economy
Smaller companies have to be able to adapt their team during busy or low periods, but hiring and firing permanent staff can be time-consuming and detrimental to morale. “Being able to bring on more workers or scale back the workforce to respond to the ebbs and flows of demand is highly desirable to business owners,” says Liberty Staffing. Temporary staff can also provide a quick fix for sudden turnover, long-term leaves, and special projects.
It gives your company access to new skills
The cliché of the temp tends toward lower-level admin roles, but the reality is that temporary staff can bring new skills and perspectives to their role that can, in turn, improve efficiency or streamline production. If a new project or product requires skills outside of your team’s area of expertise, a temporary employee can provide that new talent to keep things moving.
It saves you money
While the exact logistics of temporary hires differ from company to company, the process is usually far more cost effective than making a permanent hire. Hourly rates can sometimes be implemented rather than a salary, and with reduced – or at least short-term – availability to benefits and other company perks.
It can lead to meaningful hires
Finding employees that are the right fit for your workplace is always a challenge. Temporary employees, on the other hand, can provide employers with the chance to evaluate workers over a longer period of time without committing to a permanent offer. It can also alleviate some of the urgency associated with filling an opening in your permanent staff – having a short-term employee in place during your recruitment process ensures you take your time finding the right hire.
It can boost morale
The addition of short-term employees can also help the overall workplace mood. “When your employees are forced to work double shifts, to work nights and weekends, and to take on extra roles and responsibilities because you’re shorthanded, morale can quickly decrease,” says Liberty Staffing. “Your employees can get stressed, become exhausted, and burn out.” Offering extra help during your company’s busiest periods (or when personnel turnover leaves your under-staffed) ensures your core team stays happy and productive.
1. They Overwork People
It’s tempting to work your best people hard because you know they can get things done the right way. Unfortunately, overworking good employees will eventually backfire; instead of making them feel valued as your go-to people, it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive. New research from Stanford shows that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that you don’t get anything out of working more.
2. They Don’t Recognize Contributions and Reward Good Work
Even little things go a long way. Sometimes it’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. They may work hard despite a lack of positive reinforcement. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all. Managers need to communicate with their people to find out what makes them feel good (for some, it’s a raise; for others, it’s public recognition) and then to reward them for a job well done. With top performers, this will likely be on-going if you’re doing it right.
3. They Don’t Care about Their Employees
More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. If an employee doesn’t feel valued, they will disengage. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people, even when it hurts. Bosses who fail to really care will always have high turnover rates. It’s impossible to work for someone eight-plus hours a day when they aren’t personally involved and don’t care about anything other than your production yield.
4. They Don’t Honor Their Commitments
Making promises to people places you on the fine line that lies between making them very happy and watching them walk out the door. When you uphold a commitment, you grow in the eyes of your employees because you prove yourself to be trustworthy and honorable (two very important qualities in a boss). But don’t say things you don’t mean or plan to follow through with. When you disregard your commitment, you come across as uncaring and disrespectful. Once the trust is gone, it’s hard to get it back. And after all, if the boss doesn’t honor his or her commitments, why should everyone else?
5. They Hire and Promote the Wrong People
Good, hard-working employees want to work with like-minded professionals. When managers don’t put in the time and effort to hire good people, it’s a major demotivator for those working alongside them. Promoting the wrong people is even worse. When you work your tail off only to get passed over for a promotion that’s given to someone who glad-handed their way to the top, it’s a massive insult. Be sure that employees are promoted and rewarded based on merit, not likability.
Work Policies That Should Be Done Away With
Work policies and rules should help clarify expectations and make things run smoothly. Some rules that were put into place many years ago need to be updated or removed altogether.
- Stop requiring a copy of a funeral notice or doctor’s note be provided to substantiate time off. You should be able to take your employees at their word when there’s been a death in the family or if they need a few days off for sick leave. If you can’t, why are they working for you in the first place?
- Lose the old-fashioned dress codes. Instead of giving stitch-level instructions on what to wear, simply tell employees to “Dress appropriately for a business office and err on the side of caution.” Detailing the length of hemlines or the style of jacket required is a level of micromanagement that few have time for. There will always be times when discussions over wardrobe come up, but that’s a normal part of a manager’s job.
- Ditch the policy that doesn’t count or value work that happens outside of your facility. Many people work numerous hours outside of the traditional 9-5pm schedule. Answering emails and working on reports from home should be valued. It’s 2017, and smart employers recognized the value of flextime and working from home a long time ago. If you trust your employees to get their work done, does it really matter where they do it?
- Get rid of antiquated disciplinary rules. The idea of discipline comes from the military. We would never put a plumber you’ve hired on probation or put notes of disciplinary action in his or her file, so why do it to your employees? A better way to handle things is to discuss issues as them come up and keep the lines of communication open. Demerits and write ups should be a thing of the past.
- Stop forbidding managers from giving letters of recommendation to former employees. Today, companies are so afraid of litigation (and violating company policy), that they will not allow managers to serve as a reference for a former employee. But when a good employee decides to move on, it’s the right thing to do to help them on their journey. Saying a few complementary words can go a long way.
How to keep your seasonal employees motivated
Offer a completion bonus. Incentivize the employees to do well and follow through on their commitment to finish the season with a completion bonus. It gives them something to work towards and rewards hard work. The investment will pay off because it’s more economical to pay to keep an employee than to pay to rehire mid-season.
Make them a part of the team. Don’t make your temp employees feel like a fifth wheel or outsider. Instead, invite them to sit in on meetings, provide them mentoring, and value their feedback. Learn their names. Remember that they are people with feelings, interests, aspirations, etc. Making a connection builds trust and respect. If an employee is vested in the company – if only for a season – they’ll be more likely to work hard since they have buy in.
Take the time to train them. Not only is it key to set clear expectations for your temporary employees, it’s also very important to give them a fighting chance with solid training. Sure, you’ll probably invest less time in a temp than a long-haul employee. But if you think you can save a bit of time by leaving temp employees hanging, letting them fend for themselves, you’ll end up not only losing time but also creating problems with your full-timers.
Keep an eye on burn out. Seasonal employees often work long shifts that include a lot of overtime hours. To avoid losing employees early in the season to burn out, check in with them regularly. Make sure they are getting the time off they were promised. Create employee activities like bbqs and appreciation luncheons. Providing opportunities for employees to get together and socialize outside of work hours can provide a much-needed break and allow them to recharge.
Pair them up. When scheduling shifts, see to it that you have both temporary and full-time employees working together at any given time. This will help keep your seasonal staff members in check and ensure that they can always turn to someone familiar with the store should they have any questions or concerns. Also, pairing temps with full-time workers helps build rapport among team members. It encourages collaboration and communication, thus preventing your seasonal staff from feeling alienated and developing an “us versus them” attitude.
Many contend that telecommuting has an overwhelming number of benefits, not just for employees, but employers as well. Here are 5 ways in which telecommuting is a win/win.
One of the major misconceptions about telecommuting is that once employees are out of sight, they will slack off—big time. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. Case in point: One Stanford study that showed that call center employees actually increased their productivity by 13% when allowed to work from home. And another study from University of Texas, Austin showed that telecommuters worked 5-7 hours more than their in-office counterparts.
When employees are unhappy with their commutes, they might be more apt to call in sick—or look for another position that will allow them to work remotely and subsequently quit. Lost productivity can cost a company thousands of dollars—and that number can skyrocket when the employee actually does resign. Employees who are given the option to telecommute are reportedly much happier (73%) with their employers and their ability to telecommute than traditional office workers (64%). Being happier in their jobs means that employees are much more likely to stay in their positions, which saves a company a lot of money in the long run.
Let’s say that you’re caring for aging parents, and you need to take them for frequent doctors’ visits. By being able to work from home—and have a better work life balance—employees become happier and feel valued. In turn, that happiness turns into gratitude, causing employees to become more invested in the companies they work for—and work harder. In fact, a study from Pennsylvania State University shows that telecommuters are generally less stressed and happier than those who work in an office.
The vast majority of employees drive in to work each day. All that pollution can (and does) take a huge toll on the environment. A recent study conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association found that telecommuting saves enough energy to power one million homes in the United States for an entire year! In that way, both companies—and their workers—can greatly reduce their carbon footprint when employees work from home.
If you thought that only employees benefit financially from working from home, think again. Sure, employees will avoid added expenses that come with working in an office (such as commuting costs, or having to buy office attire and daily lunches), but employers save big bucks as well. It’s estimated that for each employee who telecommutes, a company saves about $11,000 annually.
With its numerous benefits, more and more companies are allowing their employees to work remotely. Whether it’s one day or five days a week, not only does telecommuting greatly benefit the environment, but it strengthens a company financially and creates a more invested, cohesive—and most importantly, happy—workforce.
3 Reasons for Having an Employee Recognition Program
Rewarding employees for a job well done can be expensive. A poll conducted by Gallup found that 87 percent of workers surveyed in countries all over the world were disengaged with their jobs. Higher levels of engagement have proven time and again to lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction, greatly increased productively levels, greater loyalty to the company, higher profits, and better customer satisfaction. One of the best ways to increase engagement is to make sure the employees feel appreciated. Having a strategic recognition program in place is one of the most effective ways to show your employees you appreciate their hard work and dedication. The following are three benefits for companies to implement recognition programs and some ideas for rewarding your employees for a job well done:
Improve Business Results
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that happy and motivated employees are better equipped to address company concerns. Members of staff need to feel that they have a vested interest in selling the brand and its products and services. Many senior managers consider recognition programs an investment rather than an expense. People want to be rewarded for good work, and they’ll be mentally far better equipped to face the monotony of modern corporate culture if they know there’s a good bonus and other rewards waiting for them.
Marijuana has become more accepted and radically more prevalent in America with twenty five states decriminalizing possession for medical use and four states, including Washington, DC, decriminalizing possession for recreational use. Although still illegal on a Federal level, many employers state decriminalization is causing a ripple effect since Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska made recreational marijuana legal. This has created confusion in employment laws and policies and has made human resources and executives start to see smoke.
“This uncertain regulatory scheme places employers in the delicate position of attempting to comply with divergent laws while maintaining order and safety in the workplace,” said Timothy P. Van Dyck and Nathanael Nichols, attorneys at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP in Boston.
Below are a few things to know when dealing with marijuana in the workplace – specifically creating and enforcing policies around drug-testing in the workplace.
Marijuana use is still illegal under federal laws. Therefore, any workplace that receives federal funding or is subject to federal regulations requiring the testing of safety-sensitive workers (i.e. Department of Transportation), must consider marijuana a prohibited substance according to the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. The legislation states that if you have a federal grant or contract then you must conduct a drug-free workplace. This law was tested by Dish Network employee, Brandon Coats, who was fired in 2010 after testing positive for marijuana. Coats is a paraplegic who has been using prescribed marijuana for years to deal with his muscle spasms and pain. He was consumed by a legal battle since 2010 that has caught national attention. The Supreme Court ruled that federal law supersedes state law, and upheld the lower courts’ ruling of the firing of an employee for using medical marijuana while not on duty.
Locally, Colorado’s Amendment 64 states that it “is not intended to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace or affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.”
Colorado’s Drug Testing Laws
What can an employer do if an employee shows up for work smelling like marijuana?
Colorado Code §25-5-330 et seq. states that employers can conduct “…random testing and testing on reasonable suspicion, as part of fitness-for-duty exam, after on-the-job injury, or as follow-up to a rehabilitation program. Employees must receive 60 days’ advance notice of testing policy, which must be conspicuously posted.” If an employee tests positive, it’s up to the employer to decide how to handle the results.
Lawyers are a Must
Although one in five Colorado companies have implemented more stringent “on the job drug testing” since , (according to a survey done by Mountain States Employers Council) this may or may not be the right thing for your company. Talk to a lawyer, who knows your state’s laws inside and out, about your drug-testing policies as well as drug-use and discrimination. Make sure your policies are consistent with state regulations and your company is being compliant.
Make sure your employees are explicitly clear on all of the policies and expectations regarding impairment, marijuana use on and off the clock and drug testing. Let them know if/when they change and educate employees that policies are simply to ensure the safety and productivity of the organization.
As you can see this is a muddy subject and it will surely evolve as the laws have. Our advice is to keep abreast of the current status, don’t get overwhelmed and seek advice of an expert when needed!
Getting the “the right people on the bus, in the right seats”, according to Jim Collins, is a tricky endeavor in general, and even more so with seasonal or temporary positions. Below are a few pitfalls even seasoned managers fall into when looking for the perfect new-hire for summer and beyond.
1. Small Talent Pool – Take the time to build a candidate pool with a number of potential employees who meet the needs of your organization. If you don’t have several qualified candidates, your pool is too small. Don’t “settle” because even a bad hire for a seasonal position can be costly.
2. Jumping to Conclusions – Take your time reviewing resumes. A quick glance isn’t enough information to understand if a candidate has what it takes for the job. Be fair, and discover the truth behind a resume.
3. Cultural Fit – All too often hiring decisions are based solely on experience and skills, when hiring for the correct cultural fit is just as important. After all, few terminations are the result of wrong skill sets or experience.
4. Forgetting Legal Requirements – Hiring a new employee, whether full, part-time or temporary, means fulfilling a number of state and federal requirements. For example, all new hires must complete Form W-4, appropriate state tax forms and a Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification). Employers must also report all new hires to the appropriate state agency and provide all new hires with a Notice of Coverage Options, as required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
5. Inadequate Reference Checks – Many times Human Resources conducts reference checks, but it is actually more fruitful if the hiring manager does the digging. This allows them to speak frankly to peers about the candidate and hopefully get candid and honest responses. One crucial question we suggest posing is “If you could have Joe work on your team again, would you hire him?” While the answer matters, it’s more about the enthusiasm (or lack thereof) that is noteworthy.
6. Lack of Orientation and Training – Job failure is directly linked to the lack of a well thought out orientation and new hire training process. Employers should prepare existing employees by informing them of the assignments the new workers are hired to complete and the resources available to help them get up to speed as quickly as possible. In addition, part-time and temporary employees should generally receive the same training as other new hires, especially in the areas of anti-harassment, nondiscrimination, safety, and other important workplace issues.