When millennials become the bosses: Helping generations work together

Today’s workplace is a historic mash-up, as it’s the first time we’ve had five generations in the workplace at the same time.

Of course, it’s true that the oldest cohort, the “traditionalists,” are aging out, but most generation watchers include them since their influence can still be felt in many workplace structures that continue today. And while Baby Boomers are also nearing retirement age, more workers are participating in the workforce, at least part time, for longer. And as they cling on to their former roles, Gen Z is fast approaching.

But the group that most HR professionals are attuned to are the millennials, and with good reason. Today, millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, according to the Pew Research Center. And that means that even though there are older generations still in the average office, more and more millennials are going to be “the boss,” even for these workers who are older than them.

Here are some tips that can help ease the path for generations working together.

Explain style differences.

The reality is that many of the elements that we typically think of as “millennial” in nature, such as wanting feedback and coaching, are actually prized by all generations. However, if older generations are used to an ‘”annual review,” they might worry that they are being micromanaged if they get more frequent one-on-ones. Millennial managers might consider talking to colleagues about how and when they prefer to receive feedback to make sure that the team realizes it’s for their benefit, and not to nag.

Focus on the benefits of a diverse team.

Often we think of “diversity” in terms of gender and culture, but age is a factor as well. Research shows that diverse teams produce better outcomes, and that includes having members of various ages on teams. In fact, the Randstad Workmonitor report found that 90 percent believed it was a benefit to have co-workers of different ages working together. By helping your millennial managers and their teams see the why behind diverse teams, they may be more liable to embrace them.

Beware of stereotypes.

Millennials are entitled. Baby Boomers are old fuddy duddies. It’s very easy to group every member of a generation together, but we all know that it’s rarely the case that all individuals follow a similar mold. Encourage teams to talk about what drives them and share past experiences, and avoid jumping to conclusions and assumptions about what another team member from another generation might be like. For every Gen Xer who wants a face-to-face meeting, there’s another one who’d just assume take care of all conversations on Slack. Millennial managers need to be open to finding out these individual preferences instead of assuming.

Share knowledge for a better overall product.

Older workers might have institutional knowledge that can help younger managers make better decisions and fast track projects. While no one wants to resort to a “This is how it’s always been done” mentality, it can be helpful to know what’s been tried before and learn from past lessons about why something might not have been effective. Similarly, older workers shouldn’t feel shy about asking for help with areas where they might not be as up-to-date, like lead management systems.

All generations have plenty to offer one another, so HR personnel should encourage a collaborative, rather than competitive, environment, no matter who is leading the team. Whether you institute a formal “reverse mentoring” program or just encourage colleagues to reach out to one another, teams that recognize each member can offer value are going to succeed.

The key to integrating mutigenerational work teams successfully — especially when one that is led by a younger manager — is realizing that different generations have as many similarities as they do differences. Working together can make the entire organization stronger.

 




Got mail? Why electronic communication may not be the best business decision

New communications tools are proliferating—think Slack for messaging and Basecamp for project management. And yet, email use continues to mushroom. In fact, the average person sends and receives 200+ emails each day across business and personal accounts.

And that adds up to a lot of traffic. Although email is certainly a useful tool for a wide variety of tasks—for example, reading and keeping information about benefits programs—our reliance on electronic communication for every task can cause confusion or inefficiency in many cases. Check out these seven disadvantages of using email

1.You can’t read “tone.”

Oh, the hours we spend dissecting the tone of an email. If a response says “OK” without an exclamation mark, is the sender annoyed or displeased, rather than enthusiastic? Or if the message is abrupt, is that how the sender was feeling, or did they just rush off the missive quickly and not take care to add the pleasantries? It’s easy to read way too much into the tone of an email that could be avoided with an in-person conversation, where you are able to take advantage of tone of voice, facial expression, and the other nonverbal cues that help us better interpret a message.

2. It can become a time-wasting back and forth.

Can you meet on Tuesday at 9? No, how about 10? No…Wednesday for lunch? There are so many conversations that could be taken care of in two minutes if you just picked up the phone rather than responding (and responding and responding).

3. “Reply all.”

This one is self-explanatory: All of us have opened up our email box to be greeted with 30 messages; 22 of which were responses to someone asking if everyone was attending the team town hall. “I’ll be there!” “Yes.” “See you then.” And on and on. Easy enough to delete but still a pain when you’re trying to find something important. And of course, replying all when you didn’t mean to can be a giant career faux-pas as…

4. It’s easy to mis-direct.

When there are two “Pauls” in the office, and one is the CEO and one is your lunch buddy, that can easily go wrong. If the “autofill” feature chooses the wrong Paul, you could inadvertently send a description of the commute troubles that led to your late arrival (or worse) to the CEO and not your pal.

5. Sensitive information can be passed on without your knowledge.

Email is easy to forward, and once it’s left your computer, you have no idea where it can end up. Yes, someone can repeat the same information you give them in conversation, but it doesn’t have the same weight as seeing information written down in an email from you. Think before you send a disparaging or complaining email that could easily end up in your manager’s in-box.

6. You might say something you regret.

When you’re standing face-to-face with a coworker, it’s unlikely you would say some of the inflammatory things that are much easier to fire off in an email. Sometimes hiding behind a screen and keyboard makes it seem acceptable to open up and make statements that you would never say to someone’s face or even about them to another colleague. And the repercussions for your career and relationship can be damaging. So, watch that your emails don’t contain information you wouldn’t share in an actual conversation.

7. It can become an inefficient “to do” list.

Many of us keep messages in our in-box because we don’t want to forget them, and we think that keeping them there will ensure they are top-of-mind when we open it up. But that can lead to important items getting pushed down or forgotten. It also can create false urgency, when you feel that you have to respond to items right away, rather than dealing with the tasks that truly deserve your attention at the moment. Better to move tasks to an actual to-do list and prioritize them, rather than rely on email to jog your memory.

Although email definitely has its place in the corporate world, especially as many embrace remote work, it’s wise to always ask yourself whether it’s the best medium for each piece of communication. If a phone call or stroll down the hall to talk to your team member is possible, often that’s the better choice.




Yes, you can make remote workers feel like part of the office – Here’s how

Remote work has exploded over the past decade: The “State of the Remote Job Marketplace” report from FlexJobs finds that roughly 43 percent of U.S. workers performed their roles away from the office at least occasionally in 2017, up from fewer than 10 percent in 2007.

The reasons employees prefer remote work are many, from avoiding a brutal commute to working more comfortably if you have a disability. And even though remote workers are typically highly effective, it can still take a toll on both parties in terms of collaboration.

That’s why companies that commit to making offsite workers feel engaged will reap the benefits in both production and retention. Here are four ways to accomplish it.

  1. Create your own version of “face time.”

Sure “FaceTime” can never really replace real face time, but managers should focus on creating ways employees can seek feedback, whether they are looking for instruction on a project or coaching.

Setting up a weekly or monthly phone or video call is one way to generate regular communication, but it’s wise to offer additional options, such as “office hours” a couple of times a week when managers make it clear they are available for questions. Managers may let their virtual team know that they’ll be available from, say, noon to 1 p.m. three days a week, alerting them that’s a good time to call, text or send a Slack message for immediate feedback.

  1. Make conference calls more inclusive.

If you’ve ever been the sole caller amid a conference room full of team members, you know how isolating that can feel. That’s why managers need to be careful to prevent the offsite worker from feeling like a side note.

First, make sure your tech is up to par so that the sound is clear, and there’s as little lag time as possible. Then set up ground rules where people in the conference room introduce themselves before speaking – unless it’s a small team where there’s no room for confusion. Be fanatical about curtailing side conversations that can happen when colleagues gather together so that the person on the phone doesn’t feel left out.

One genius way to avoid all the meeting miscommunication is to have everyone call in on their own separate line. Often the rhetoric is clearer when you’re not gathered around a squawky speakerphone, and the remote workers won’t feel as though they’re missing out by not being there at the table.

Finally, if you’re working in different time zones, try to find a mutually agreeable time, or at least rotate the calls so that the remote worker isn’t constantly forced to call in during the wee hours of the morning or dinner time.

  1. Build team camaraderie.

Yes, there are times that the team is all going to go to happy hour to celebrate a promotion or have a birthday lunch. But there are ways you can include your offsite employees, too, with a little creativity. For example, you could have the account win celebration in a conference room equipped with video chat. For extra points, surprise a remote employee by sending them their own birthday cake on their special day or have lunch delivered to their home so you can all “eat together.”

Make sure their role in team success is always acknowledged, whether through a company-wide email or newsletter or an announcement at a town hall that’s broadcast to them, too.

In addition, consider whether there are times that you could include them in person. For example, if they live reasonably close, consult their calendar first and schedule the celebratory lunch with ample lead time so they can plan to attend. If they are farther way, consider the value to be had by bringing them in a couple of times a year for team meetings or other events so they can enjoy the in-person dynamic that contributes to success.

  1. Keep the lines of communication open.

Above all, make it clear that remote employees can have your ear just as readily as the onsite team members can. While you don’t have to be constantly “on call,” it’s a good idea to respond to emails or texts as soon as is feasible so your employee doesn’t feel as though they are being ignored because they are not down the hall.

For many teams, a chat app like Slack can take the place of casual in-person conversations. Everyone will feel more cohesive if they are able to trade banter, along with project logistics, via an informal channel.




7 Ways To Save on Commuting Costs – One Will Work For You

The thought of having to pay just to go to work can be annoying, but most of us do. In fact one 2015 survey found that the average American spends $2,600 on their commute.

Certainly all those gas costs, parking fees and tolls can take their toll. If you’re looking to reduce your outlay, check out these seven ways to help reduce your commuting costs.

  1. Figure out the optimum time to commute.

Sometimes we can’t just waltz into work whenever we want, or we might have a daycare schedule to work around, but if you do have a modicum of flexibility, you might be surprised at the difference in your commute that even 30 minutes or so can make. And less time on the road translates into burning less fuel – not to mention patience.

Given the amount of flexibility your personal schedule allows, test the waters by going in at different times or use an app like Waze to scope out various commute times to see what’s best. You might see a significant difference by leaving your house earlier – and many downtown garages even offer you a better rate if you park before a certain time. Use the extra time to get work done in a quiet office or even just grab a relaxing breakfast and catch up on some reading. You also might find that evening commutes dissipate around 6:30 or so; you could use that time to hit your office’s fitness center or run some errands.

  1. Optimize your route.

And speaking of traffic apps, never leave home without one working for you. Even if you are convinced that a certain route is fastest, anything can happen to cause an unexpected traffic jam on a given day. Best to know what streets to avoid before you’re stuck in the crawl.

  1. Take public transportation.

Seems obvious, right? But you might not have realized that in many cities, public options have improved from just the slow city bus. Many areas have spent big bucks on light rail or other choices that can get you where you’re going even faster and more comfortably. And if you’re in one of the many urban areas that offer scooters for public rent, you can cover that “last mile” even quicker.

  1. Check into any benefits for commuting reimbursement.

Many times your onboarding process might have been so hectic that you didn’t take the time to fully understand all the benefits available to you. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2018 Employee Benefits study, about 13 percent of companies offer a transit subsidy and 12 percent offer a parking subsidy so make sure you’re not inadvertently forgoing it.

  1. Get the best price on gas.

With gas prices on the rise, you want to get the best value you can. Some stations seems to adjust depending on the day of the week, so watch your pump to see if there’s any pattern and fill up when it’s cheapest. Also consider using an app like GasBuddy that crowdsources gas prices so you can make sure you’re getting the best deal around you.




Tackling the summer slide: Promote employee productivity with a twist

The lazy days of late summer are great…unless it’s your employees who are feeling a little bit too much summer fever. Because even though it’s the time of year when we want to hit the pool, the beach or the park, the work still has to get done.

However, employees have become more emphatic about “work/life” balance, and offering appealing policies can help fuel retention, an issue on the minds of almost every HR professional these days. That’s why it’s important to do what you can to promote employee-friendly offerings, while not turning the place into a free-for-all.

Here are six ways that companies can help their employees feel like they’re getting a little taste of summer while still getting the work done.

  1. Take meetings outside.

Remember when you were in school, and your teacher let the class take their reading circle to the playground on a sunny day? Heaven! Outside is the only place employees want to be, enjoying a little breath of fresh air. And it might even help them work better: According to the L.L.Bean 2018 Work and the Outdoors Survey, 86 percent of indoor workers would like to spend more time outside during the workday, with nearly three-quarters saying it would improve their mood and lower their stress levels. So see if you can indulge the team by heading out for a meeting in a nearby park or even in a green corner of the parking lot.

  1. Relax the dress code.

There’s something about capris and sandals that make you feel like you’re on vacation even if you’re working. If it’s appropriate for your workplace, consider loosening your dress code, even if it’s only on Fridays.

Make sure to put sensible limitations on the rules, such as no tank tops or athletic wear, or other specifics that are important for your particular office. If needed, remind employees that the relaxed dress code only applies to them when they are not meeting with clients or any other role restrictions you deem necessary – and recommend they keep a back-up outfit in the office in case they need to slip into something more professional for an unexpected meeting.

  1. Offer flexibility when it makes sense.

This can be tricky because not every workplace or department can accommodate flex hours equally. After all, phones still have to be answered, and client needs still must be met. But if there is an opportunity for team members to come in earlier a couple days a week – and thus leave earlier– make that an option.

“Summer Fridays,” where the office closes at noon, have become more common and probably won’t surprise clients. Or, if the phone or floor absolutely must be manned, see if you can at least rotate among the departments so there is still coverage. Of course, you have to emphasize that flexible hours don’t mean the work doesn’t get done – it just means staff has some choice of whenit gets done.

  1. Plan something fun.

Of course everyone has a different definition of “fun,” so take your culture and employees’ personalities into account before you plan an outing or event. Here are some great ideas for activities that are liable to please everyone, no matter their age, interests or abilities.

  1. Surprise them with a treat.

Same as the teacher taking the class outside, nothing says summer and “playing hooky” like the ice cream truck. So some Wednesday afternoon when it’s business as usual, surprise the office with a box of popsicles or ice cream sandwiches – or iced lattes if that’s more your team’s vibe. An unexpected treat can go a surprisingly long way in engendering employee’s goodwill and loyalty.

  1. Ask your team what they want.

And finally, if you’re out of ideas for helping employees enjoy these last few weeks of summer, find out what would make them happy. They might appreciate leaving an hour early to head out on a bike ride with their kids or coming in an hour late so they can enjoy a morning kayak session or an extra-long lunch break to soak up some rays at the park.

The bonus is that by surveying your employees, you’ll have some great intel to use when planning summer 2019.




Seven Ways to Keep Your Vacation Glow Strong

Have you recently returned from vacation, basking in the radiance that comes from relaxing in a tropical destination or enjoying new adventures with family and friends? Of course we know that vacations are fun, but they’re also good for us: In fact, a study from Expedia finds a host of benefits, with an overwhelming 96 percent of respondents saying they returned happier, 94 percent less stressed and 93 percent feeling better rested. Sixty percent even said they had a better attitude at work.

 

Unfortunately another study from the American Psychological Association found that those benefits might linger about as long as your tan…with 40 percent lamenting that vacation benefits only lasted a few days.

But you cansavor the positive effects of vacation. Here are seven ways to help prolong the vacation glow.

 

  1. Keep the evidence handy.

 

Often all it takes is a photo or memory to take us right back to the good times. So change the wallpaper on your computer to a montage of photo memories or re-create your password to be something that reminds you of your destination.

 

  1. Bring back a special souvenir.

 

Going someplace new can unlock a creative side of us or get us out of our comfort zone – new mindsets that can offer lasting benefits. The trick is to remember those wonderful feelings when you get back to the “grind,” so try to think of something you can bring home as a reminder. A special souvenir or nature-related memento such as seashells or rocks from a hiking path can be a talisman to refresh you to that carefree feeling of jumping in the waves or pride in conquering a difficult mountain hike.

 

  1. Transport the culture home.

 

And sometimes what makes a trip special isn’t an item itself but the overall vibe of the location. If you enjoyed a trip to Mexico, play some salsa music that reminds you of a fiesta you attended. Or if native cuisines held an important role in your trip, do an online search to find a recipe for the amazing Greek moussaka you had or a cocktail that you enjoyed al fresco every evening.

 

  1. Tie up loose ends before you go.

 

Coming home to a messy house or a bunch of work fires is a surefire way to completely forget all those wonderful, stress-free moments you just had. While you can’t control everything that happens while you’re gone, you can try to keep disruption to a minimum. That means taking out the kitchen trash so you don’t come back to a stinky house; adding an out-of-office message that hopefully refers callers to someone else so your email and voicemail don’t fill up; and maybe even pre-ordering groceries so your fridge is stocked with healthy fare as soon as you return.

 

  1. Ease back into it.

 

If you can, try to come home on a Friday night so you have the weekend to get your laundry done and your email cleaned out. Or at least try to put a “buffer” day on your out-of-office message to buy yourself a little time to get back in work mode. It’s brutal to have to attend an important meeting the minute you’re back in the office.

 

  1. Pay it forward.

 

Besides a bunch of hassles related to home or work responsibilities, nothing can kill a vacation afterglow faster than a startlingly high credit card bill. You will enjoy your trip much more if you pay for the majority of it before you leave, especially big expenses like the airfare and lodging, and then bring cash to cover the rest of the expenses. (Or set aside a special budget specifically for vacation expenses so the bill can be easily paid.) After all, the only thing you want lingering from your vacation is special memories, not bills.

 

  1. Plan your next outing.

 

Often the best part of vacation is the anticipation, and it can be a letdown to come home and realize you don’t have anything notable on the horizon. Of course, you should fix that with special outings every week or so, even if it’s to a park or outdoor concert, but there’s nothing like thinking of your next vacation destination to get that feeling back. So go ahead, start researching an upcoming adventure. Having something on the calendar will make it easier to jump back into work – after all, you’ve now got a new goal to save for.




Five Best Practices for Onboarding New Employees

For most HR managers today, attracting and retaining employees is at the top of their list of challenges, given the current job market. So once you’ve gone through the hard work of interviewing and hiring, you want to make sure that the employee is as pleased to be working for your company as you are to have them.

And that’s where “onboarding” can come in. While most employees are eager to make a good first impression, it’s a two-way street; in other words, the first few days on the job can set the tone for those to follow and make sure that your coveted employees doesn’t defect.

The possibility is real: One survey found that a whopping one-third of employees quit within the first six months of starting a job. Here are five tips for helping your new employees start off on the right foot, increasing the chance they will stay.

  1. Begin communication even before the first day.

The interim period from when you offered the job to when they start is a key time to continue to communicate your interest. A few emails once you’ve made the offer will assure them you are delighted to have them join you – and ideally prevent them from accepting another offer since you can never be sure who else they have been talking to. You might consider introducing them to various team members or start CCing them on internal documents. Reinforce that you don’t expect them to do anything until they show up; you just want them to know that they are part of the team.

And then allay their first day jitters and the awkwardness they may feel not knowing where or when to show up. The night before they start, send them a message that gives them all the details they need for a smooth first day – from dress code norms to what time to come in to where they should park to who will be waiting to meet them and show them around.

  1. Have them complete their paperwork at home.

Most new employees start the first day sitting in a room by themselves filling out paperwork and reading about benefits. While this is crucial information, it’s smart to send these documents to them before they start. Then they can copy down their Social Security, driver’s license and other numbers in the comfort of their own home. Having their benefits information in advance also gives them ample time to carefully consider their choices. Make sure to include information on health, dental, disability, 401 (k) and any other programs you offer so they can read it at their leisure.

  1. Introduce them to a work buddy.

Being the new kid on the block means you’re often not sure where the copy machine is, how to replace the toner in the printer or how early people typically arrive for a staff meeting. New employees can be hesitant to bug colleagues with what might seem to be “silly” questions, but the sooner they understand the norms of the office, the more at ease they will feel as part of the team. Find a friendly veteran who is willing to answer these questions to help them settle in faster.

  1. Schedule an appointment with the HR team.

Once they’ve had the chance to read over all the benefits information, schedule a short meeting where they can come in and get all their questions answered. New employees might be reticent to reach out and ask details on the disability benefits or the procedure for asking for vacation days or how to get their commuting costs reimbursed. By setting aside time for them to chat with a knowledgeable representative, they will feel more comfortable availing themselves of the benefits you offer.

  1. Look at a robust onboarding program as an investment in better performance.

While training might seem to take time away from your team’s day-to-day output, remember that investing adequate time upfront to thoroughly explain your company’s procedures and answer questions is ultimately going to yield better results.

 

When you successfully onboard an employee, you’ll be sure they understand your policies and procedures and feel confident they are contributing from the start. And a confident employee is one who is going to work harder – and stick around.

 




Team-Building Activities Your Team Will Actually Love

Trust falls. Ropes courses. Bowling or mini golf. Many offices plan a summer team-building activity designed for camaraderie, but forced group fun can cause anxiety in many. Maybe your office mates don’t know each other particularly well, or there are people of so many ages and ability levels that anything too physical can be a non-starter. The great news is that there are still a wide variety of team-building activities you can plan that everyone will love. Here are six to consider.

 

Throw a board game competition.

 

Not everyone’s great at kickball or golf but almost anyone can find the fun in a round of Monopoly or Sorry. Board games are having a resurgence, and it’s easy to see why. Everyone takes turns, works cooperatively and has a blast. Consider classics from everyone’s childhood or find a new one where everyone can learn the rules together. Depending on the size of your office, you can allow people to choose from among several or rotate every 45 minutes or so. Keep the competition level light and the snacks heavy.

 

Host a scavenger hunt.

This is another cooperative game that can be fun for all ages and abilities. Compile a list of offbeat items both inside the office and outside – if you’re close to a city, head downtown for even more fun. Have the gang take photos of the items they find, and gather back at the office after an hour or two to share wild stories and enjoy a snack.

 

Trade jobs.

What does Annette in accounting or Sam in sales do anyway? Sometimes walking a mile in another employee’s shoes can help promote better understanding – and possibly a renewed sense of appreciation and even patience. Work out a schedule where employees visit other departments to experience what others do; have each department offer a brief overview and then let the group loose to do a sample project — for example, working up a new client sales presentation or troubleshooting cybersecurity threats, just for fun, of course. After a couple of rotations, meet back and have the group share some observations or surprising insights about what they learned about other teams’ roles and challenges.

 

Plan a family day.

Often work activities fail because your employees may not want to give up precious free time to socialize with colleagues. That’s where a family fun day can serve triple duty –allowing them to be with their family, but also showing their family their workplace AND allowing coworkers to get to know each other better through their families.

Make sure there are suitable activities for all ages, from a bouncy house for the younger set, to games for older kids and a photo booth and plenty of food for everyone. If your budget allows, splurge on some sort of entertainment, maybe a music group or a family-friendly comedian. Make sure you have name tags on hand so everyone knows who belongs to who and plenty of action to encourage mingling.

 

Have a reading club.

If you don’t want to devote an entire afternoon or day to the team-building activity, or sense that this type of mixing wouldn’t be well-received by your staff, consider having a Book Club instead. Ask everyone to read the same book (you might provide copies so they don’t have to finance it) and give the team ample time to read the book and then hold a discussion to get everyone’s thoughts on it.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of recent business books that have gotten attention, or you might consider something by Malcolm Gladwell, who writes books full of engaging stories that have applications both for business and personal growth. Another option might be a book written by someone in your industry, such as “Shoe Dog” if you’re in retail or a creative field.

 

Volunteer together.

Believe it or not, almost half of respondents to one survey said their employer’s volunteer policies played a role in accepting an offer. While an ongoing volunteer program can be a powerful perk, even a one-day stint working as a group at a food bank, cooking a meal at a homeless shelter or assisting another non-profit that’s important to your team can help increase their bonds – and also give them the “helper’s high” that accompanies volunteering.

Not sure what project might resonate? Just ask! Maybe offer a couple of choices and either split up or let the group vote on which one might receive your collective power this time. Volunteering can be a huge win-win for your team and everyone whose lives they touch. And who knows…you might just spark an ongoing commitment for several of your team members.

 




The Benefits That Matter to Working Caregivers

Mother with baby and her father.Gen Xers now occupy the most leadership roles globallyBut this generation also brings a unique set of challenges to the workplace. Employees born between the early 1960s and 1980 increasingly need to look after their children as well as their aging parents. They’re known as the “sandwich generation” and according to the Pew Center for Research, account for almost half of adults in their 40s and 50s.

Caregiving is becoming a big workplace trend. The Caregiving and the Workplace: Employer Benchmarking Survey conducted by Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) and AARP in 2017 indicates that 30 percent of Americans currently care for a family member—and they’re spending an average of 20 hours each week caregiving.

This combined with ever-lowering unemployment levels in the US, means that companies need to update their benefits packages to address the needs of caregivers. According to the NEBGH report, 84 percent of companies believe that during the next five years caregiving will become an increasingly important issue for their company.

Here are some benefits that are particularly valued to those caring for families: 

Paid time off

Clearly, if your company can offer paid family leave—this is a significant help, particularly during family emergencies. Deloitte recently implemented a new paid family leave program in response to these changing demographic shifts.

For the people who really need to take advantage of family leave, it can make an astounding difference in their lives,” said David Pollock whose paid leave policy at Deloitte allowed him to stay in the hospital with his wife and be by her side for her final days of stage four lung cancer. Adobe has also added this benefit, offering employees up to four weeks of paid leave to care for a sick family member.

Health and disability insurance

As you build out your benefits program, make sure you include disability insurance alongside health insurance. Also known as “paycheck insurance,” it protects an employee’s ability to earn part of their salary if they need to miss work due to illness, injury, or pregnancy.

For a caregiver who is responsible for the lives of others, it’s critical that they can continue to earn an income if they unexpectedly need to miss work for qualifying health reasons. It also means that HR teams don’t need to have that heart-breaking conversation once the employee’s paid leave or sick days run out.

Flexibility

Not all companies can afford to offer a generous benefits policy. But flexibility is a true gift for employees who may need to balance numerous conflicting schedules—whether it’s the ability to leave a little earlier to get to the hospital or to work from home remotely for a period of time. Offering flexibility with work schedules and locations is a boon for all workers. In Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace, 51 percent of employees said they would change jobs for one that offers them flexible work time.

On-site assistance

Some companies are opting to bring the care itself to the workplace. Patagonia offers a childcare facility on-site at its headquarters in Ventura, CA, as well as a distribution center in Reno, NV. The company fronts 25 percent of the costs with employees paying the rest unless they qualify for stipends.

Rick Ridgeway, the company’s vice president of public engagement explained at the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual conference in New Orleans, that the costs were quickly covered by the rise in employee retention and engagement. It also has made the company a magnet for new hires. “Another benefit is the higher rates of employee recruitment,” he said. “We have a lot more people applying because of these policies.”

Employee support

Don’t underestimate the power of being a caring company, and offering employee support. The NEBGH survey revealed that “caregivers generally abandon their own physical and emotional needs while caring for others”.

Offer counseling services or train up your HR teams to guide caregivers to local resources, such as geriatric assessments and elder care options. AARP outlines several excellent strategies that workplaces can fairly easily put into action, such as organizing affinity groups for caregivers, creating quiet spaces where people can take calls during the day, or simply making sure that the words “working caregivers” appear alongside words like “working parents” in company documents.

As the writer of the AARP article sums it up, “People caring for older loved ones step up every day. In order for caregivers to thrive in their jobs, they need their employers to step up, too.”




How Summer Vacations Boost Workplace Engagement

Family at the beach.As the summer vacation season kicks off, now is a good time for HR to be reminding employees and managers about the value of time out of the office.

Vacations are critical to the emotional and physical health of your workforce — and new studies show that they build a far more engaged, happy, and productive workforce.

Unlike other developed countries, the United States has no mandated number of days off for employees. A quarter of Americans have no paid vacations at all. This has an impact on wellness. 

A 2017 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 61 percent of workers self-identified as burned out in their current job, with 31 percent reporting high or extremely high levels of stress at work. A third of all workers (33 percent) said they had not taken nor were planning to take a vacation that year.

Why aren’t people taking time off?

A survey from Project Time Off in 2017 reveals a key reason why people are avoiding vacations: they think it makes them look like a less committed worker. Thirty eight percent of employees wanted to be seen as “a work martyr by their boss”. Yet as the report states: “What those nearly four-in-ten employees do not understand is that work martyrdom not only does not help them advance in their careers; it may be hurting them.

“These self-proclaimed work martyrs are less likely (79 to 84 percent) to report receiving a raise or bonus in the last three years than those who do not subscribe to the work martyr myth. When it comes to promotions, they are no more likely to have received a promotion in the last year than the average worker (28 percent), showing that the work martyr attitude is not helping anyone get ahead.”

Melinda Gates addressed this topic in her first LinkedIn post after Microsite acquired the platform in 2017 — pointing out how this workaholic culture can be particularly damaging for women. “The American workweek has soared from less than 40 hours to nearly 50 in the time since that issue of Fortune was published,” she wrote. “Technology has made it harder to pull away from our jobs, and easier to wonder whether a night off or a long weekend is damaging our careers.

The benefits of the summer vacation

New data from a O.C. Tanner survey shows a clear correlation between those who take regular vacations and their overall emotional health and happiness on the job.

Sixty six percent of respondents said they regularly take a vacation that’s at least one week or longer during the summer months, and nearly the same percentage (67 percent) said it is somewhat or extremely important for them to do so. This is what they then found in the regular vacationers:

  • Dedication to the Job: 70 percent of respondents say they are highly motivated to contribute to the success of the organization, as opposed to only 55 percent of respondents who do not regularly take a week-long summer vacation.
  • A Sense of Belonging: 63 percent of respondents say they feel a sense of belonging at the company where they currently work, as opposed to only 43 percent of respondents who do not regularly take a week-long summer vacation.
  • Loyalty: 65 percent of respondents say they have a strong desire to be working for their organization one year from now, as opposed to 51 percent of respondents who do not regularly take a week-long summer vacation.
  • Viewed as a Good Employer: 65 percent of respondents say their organization has a reputation for being a good employer whose people do great work, as opposed to just 46 percent of respondents who do not regularly take a week-long summer vacation.

In another example discussed in Harvard Business Review, one company implemented a mandatory week off once every seven weeks for all staff. The result? “Creativity went up 33 percent, happiness levels rose 25 percent, and productivity increased 13 percent.” The company concluded that once every seven weeks was perhaps excessive, but nonetheless the sheer productivity and creativity that came from having a rested and recharged workforce benefited the entire organization.

So the next time you hear a manager complain about a worker requesting a vacation, show them the data. And if you haven’t already, now is the time to be instituting a positive and proactive vacation policy.