Month: October 2014

Improving the Hiring Process

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Want to Hire Great Employees? Improve Your Hiring Process

Improve Your Hiring ProcessDoes anyone really enjoy looking for a new job? Even if you’re completely miserable in your current position, the idea of developing a resume, looking for open positions, answering the same “Where do you want to be in five years?” question again and again, and never hearing another peep from a potential employer after you’ve submitted your credentials is simply exhausting. In fact, many people would list job hunting with going to the dentist, moving, and renewing their driver’s license on the list of “most dreaded” tasks.

While certain parts of the job hunting process will never go away — the competition, the waiting, the uncomfortable interviews — some aspects of job hunting don’t have to be so miserable. As an employer, you have the power to change the process so that it can actually be somewhat enjoyable, or at least not frustrating and discouraging. In fact, if you make the hiring process friendlier to jobseekers, they will most likely be among your happiest employees and your greatest resource when it comes to recruiting even more excellent employees.

So what are some of the ways that employers can improve their hiring processes? Try these tips.

1. Make Online Applications Shorter and Easier

Job applicants often feel frustrated when they need to re-enter information into an online system that is already present on their resume, or they have to answer an endless battery of questions that don’t appear to have anything to do with the job they are applying for. They are also turned off when the system isn’t user-friendly, especially for mobile device users.

Employers can help streamline the process by regularly reviewing their applicant tracking systems and using analytics to determine which areas are slowing down or driving away applicants. It’s also important to remember that the purpose of an application is to determine which candidates should get an interview. You don’t need to collect all of the information about a candidate upfront; you can fill in the gaps later.

2. The Hiring Process Takes Too Long

Because the job market is still relatively tight, many employers believe that they can hold out for the “perfect” candidate before filling an open position. In some cases, companies will interview a candidate as many as five or six times before making a decision. However, most people do not want to wait weeks or even months, and jump through seemingly endless hoops, in order to land a job.

While you do not want to cut corners and hire someone just for the sake of filling the position, taking too long to meet and evaluate candidates can turn some qualified individuals off, and spur them to seek other opportunities. Spend some time evaluating your hiring process to identify any inefficiencies or bottlenecks, and make changes to streamline the process.

Hiring Employees3. The Employer Withholds Information

Many employers take a dominant position when it comes to hiring new employees. They believe that they hold all the cards, forgetting that the applicant is evaluating them too, to determine whether they want to work for the company. For that reason, it’s important to be forthcoming with information about not only the hiring process (i.e., how many interview rounds they can expect) but also the job description and expectations, the salary range and benefits, and other important details. When the hiring process is a two-way street, everyone feels more comfortable and confident, and able to make decisions that are more informed.

4. Vague or Inaccurate Job Descriptions

Little is more discouraging to a job applicant than getting to the interview only to discover that the job they applied for isn’t exactly the job they are interviewing for, due to outdated HR information, miscommunication from between HR and management, or other issues. It’s important to triple-check job descriptions before they are posted, to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date.

5. Lack of Communication

By far the most common complaint among job seekers is the tendency of employers to skimp on communication. While you might argue that the number of applications that are submitted for each open position make personal contact with each applicant impractical, it doesn’t take very long to notify a candidate that their application has been received, or that they are no longer being considered for a position.

A candidate tracking system can take care of some of those tasks, especially if candidates can log in and check their status themselves. However, it’s important to personally contact the candidates that you interview but do not select. Doing so maintains goodwill and your company’s reputation.

Chances are your company has a hiring process in place that works for you. However, when you show applicants that you respect them and value their time, you demonstrate your company’s values — in fact, 70 percent of job seekers believe that the hiring process is an indicator of what it’s like to work for a company. It’s always smart to evaluate your process to ensure that you’re getting the best-qualified applicants and keeping them engaged and satisfied throughout the hiring process.

Avoid the 5 Most Common Background Check Mistakes

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Avoid the 5 Most Common Background Check Mistakes

When hiring a new employee, you want to make the best decision possible, and know that you’re hiring the right person for the job. However, when you base your decisions entirely upon the information provided by the applicant, and the references that he or she provides, you may not get the entire picture. After all, it’s unlikely that someone will be upfront about a poor driving history, a criminal record, or financial troubles if they aren’t required to do so.

On the other hand, privacy laws are very strict when it comes to protecting personal data, and it’s quite easy for a well-intentioned employer to stumble upon protected information, to misinterpret information, or to make incorrect assumptions. As a result, the company misses out on a great employee — and could face lawsuits for discrimination or invasion of privacy. Usually, this occurs because the employer makes one of the following mistakes.

Mistake #1: Not Checking the Right Information

Background Check MistakesWith so much information available, it’s easy for an employer to say, “Tell me everything about this person.” However, unless you are hiring for a position that requires the highest levels of security clearance (like a CEO), you probably don’t need to know everything.

Tailor the background checks to the position. If the candidate will be working with money, a credit check is a good idea; if he or she will be working in marketing and not have any access to funds at all, there’s really no need to check credit. Someone who will be driving company vehicles needs a clean driving record, but someone who will only work in the office probably does not need to know that they have been in six accidents in 10 years.

Mistake #2: Relying on Social Media

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, more than three-quarters of all employers look at candidate’s social media profiles when making a hiring decision. Employers claim that they check the profiles as a means of gauging a candidate’s overall character, but the problem is that social media accounts also expose additional information that should not be used in hiring decisions, such as marital status, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, and whether or not the candidate has children.

While there aren’t any laws yet regarding how social media can be used in hiring decisions, legal experts say that a good rule of thumb is “Look, but don’t use” — a rule that is difficult to enforce. Because it is impossible to “unsee” something that you find on social media, experts recommend using a third-party firm to review social media accounts for red flags, such as violent or racist behavior, and refrain from viewing them otherwise.

Mistake #3: Not Being Consistent

Simply put, if you are going to run a background check on one candidate, you must run the same check on all candidates. If you fail to do so, you could face charges of discrimination.

Common Background Check MistakesMistake #4: Not Getting Permission

Most candidates for jobs know that a potential employer will scrutinize them before making a job offer. However, that doesn’t mean you can start snooping around without their express consent. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires employers to acquire written consent from applicants before conducting a background check (although social media “snooping” doesn’t count, for now)

The act also requires employers to notify the applicant if anything comes up in the check that affected their hiring decision. Not only does getting applicant permission keep you out of hot water with the law, if also gives an applicant the chance to explain any potentially questionable information that could come up.

Mistake #5: Not Asking Questions

With all of the data that’s readily available to background screeners, it’s almost inevitable that there will be mistakes. Not to mention, just because someone has a criminal record, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy of being hired. Part of the reason that the FCRA requires employers to notify applicants of the information that they find in background checks is to provide an opportunity for the applicant to explain or correct erroneous information.

In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is actively trying to ban employers from including a checkbox on employment applications asking if the candidate has ever been convicted of a crime. The EEOC argues that reducing convictions down to a yes or no question creates opportunities for discrimination, since applicants may not have the chance to provide an explanation or more details. Employers are better off to ask questions than to rely on the information in a single report.

The best way to avoid making these common background check mistakes is to hire a reputable firm to conduct the investigation for you. An experienced, licensed agency is better equipped to find accurate information quickly and efficiently, and will help you avoid running afoul of the law by inadvertently accessing information that you’re not authorized to see. With so much at stake based on the outcome of a background check, it’s important to ensure it’s done properly and within the boundaries of the law.

The Most Unusual Employee Benefits

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The Most Unusual Employee Benefits — And How You Can Keep Employees Happy Without Breaking the Bank

When it comes to employee benefits, most of us expect the standards: Paid vacation time, sick time, a retirement plan, and health insurance.

But what about house cleaning? Or travel stipends? Or spa services? At some companies, the employee perks sound like a list of options at a swanky resort, or the top prizes in a sweepstakes giveaway. While these benefits are undoubtedly expensive — the cost of an onsite childcare center can easily approach six figures when accounting for salaries and facilities — the result, in most cases, are happier, more engaged, and more productive employees.

Beyond Casual Friday

By now, we’ve all heard about some of the incredible benefits offered at Silicon Valley tech companies — tales of bowling alleys, star-studded corporate barbecues, and unlimited vacation time have become almost mythical in our imaginations — and left some wondering if anyone has any time left to get work done.

Clearly, they do, and it hasn’t stopped companies from offering benefits like these:

  • Unique Employee BenefitsJM Family Enterprises, a Florida-based automotive parts distributor, maintains a fleet of yachts for employee use.
  • California IT staffing company Akraya helps employees do their chores by sending a cleaning service to their homes every two weeks.
  • Multiple companies offer beauty and medi-spa treatments to employees; for example, one London ad agency allows employees to take a paid day off during the holidays to get haircuts, facials, and spray tans.
  • Some companies offer stipends to employees who take a week’s vacation or visit a particular destination.

Of course, there are usually requirements for employees who want to take advantage of these benefits, but they undoubtedly make employees happier — and more loyal to their employers.

What Can You Offer?

If you want to be competitive with those companies that have deeper pockets, and building a company spa or buying a yacht is out of the question? Don’t worry — you aren’t alone. Most small businesses can’t spend millions each year on employee benefits. However, you can offer similar benefits that will keep your workers happy and engaged without breaking the bank.

  1. Food. The fastest way to your employees’ hearts is through their stomachs, so try cooking up a culinary benefit. Schedule a monthly employee lunch, for example, where you provide pizza or sandwiches. Stock up on free healthy snacks in the break room to support employee wellness efforts, or coordinate with a nearby sandwich shop or café to offer discounts to your employees.
  2. Discounts. Speaking of discounts, everyone wants to save money. Identify places where employees might appreciate discounts, such as the aforementioned restaurants. Travel and entertainment discounts are always popular as well. Your company could purchase memberships to local museums or parks, for example, and allow employees to borrow a pass for a day of fun.

Don’t overlook your own business, either: Do employees receive a discount on your products or services? Be generous, as your employees can be your greatest marketing tool.

  1. Services. For many workers, juggling work and family responsibilities Employee Benefitscan be exhausting, and instead of spending time off recharging and relaxing, they are instead running around crossing things off the to-do list. Make your employees’ lives easier by pitching in to help with their other tasks.

For example, contract with a local dry cleaning company to handle employee laundry, with pickups and drop-offs at the office. Some companies even offer concierge services to help employees with arranging travel plans, buying event tickets, and more. Consider contracting with an outside company that employees can access to handle their needs.

  1. Computers. Many employees use their work computers for personal tasks because their home computers are inadequate — or they can’t afford to buy one. Leverage your company’s purchasing power to allow employees to purchase hardware and software through your IT department; some companies have even started offering low or no-interest loans to employees to allow them to purchase new computers.
  2. Health and Wellness. With the new push toward employee wellness spurred on by the Affordable Care Act, it’s your responsibility to help your employees stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Gym memberships have been popular employee benefits for a while, but there is even more you can do. Building a complete spa facility is most likely impractical, but inviting a massage therapist to work onsite a few times a month can help employees relax and unwind. Consider subsidizing the massage sessions, or arrange for a discounted rate that the employees can cover themselves. In addition to massage, acupressure and acupuncture, Reiki, reflexology, and even nail services are easy to arrange and conduct in an office environment.
  3. Time Off. What’s a better reward for working hard than some time away from work? Some companies offer time off for everyone during certain times of the year — the mythic “Summer Fridays” when everyone takes off at noon — but you can also offer time off to individuals without harming productivity. Try giving people a day off (half day off) on their birthdays, or allow a few days a year off for volunteer work.

Competitive benefits packages are important to employees, not only when it comes to comparing employment opportunities but as incentives to perform at their highest levels. Be creative in your offerings, and your employees will be happier and more productive — even if they can’t get Botox at work.

Saying Goodbye to the 2 Weeks of Vacation

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Should You Say Goodbye to Your Two Weeks of Vacation?

Unlimited vacation policyImagine having the freedom to tell your boss that you plan to take an entire month off this winter to go skiing — and he’s okay with that. Or deciding on Thursday night that you’re going to head to Vegas for the weekend, and your boss just tells you to have fun.

If you work for a company with an unlimited vacation time policy, that could be a reality. The principle is simple: As long as work is done and deadlines are met, workers are free to take as much vacation as they wish. No need to request time off from HR or cram their vacations into the allotted two weeks. Workers have the freedom to take off and come back whenever they wish, as many times a year as they want. However, while letting employees take as much time off as they wish has some benefits, it’s not right for all companies.

Unlimited Vacation: The Pros

The first question that anyone asks when investigating unlimited vacation is inevitably “Do people take advantage of such a lenient policy?”

Those companies that have such policies invariably answer with an emphatic “No.” Most point to the fact that such policies are built around accountability. Employees know and understand their responsibilities, they know what needs to be done, and most will not head out on a three-week vacation in the middle of a major project or the busiest time of the year. Those employees who do abuse the privilege are generally either quickly reprimanded, or don’t last long within the organization. Quite simply, taking too much vacation affects performance.

At the same time, unlimited vacation also improves performance. Experts note that when employees are limited to the standard two to four weeks of vacation time, they are often stressed and resentful. Instead of taking off for a week at the beach during the summer, they are forced to take time off during their children’s school vacations instead, or they have to compete for the same coveted vacation weeks with their coworkers.

When they have unlimited time, it’s possible to spend a week with the kids at Christmas, and take the beach vacation in the summer. Employees are more satisfied, and companies find that they are more creative and productive when they have enough time to recharge.

HR pros also note that an unlimited vacation policy takes some of the hassles out of scheduling and accounting for employee vacation time. Instead of wading through requests and making sure that no one takes more time than they are allowed, vacations are handled informally via departments. Experts note that most salaried employees don’t track their time anyway — most people work far more than the standard 40-hour workweek anyway — so why put all of the time and effort into tracking vacations?

Problems with Unlimited Vacation DaysThe Dark Side of Unlimited Vacation

While unlimited vacation time has its benefits, it also has its downsides — and they probably aren’t what you think.

First and foremost, not only is it unlikely that employees will abuse the system, there’s a greater likelihood that they won’t take vacation at all. Because there isn’t any clear guidance on how much time off is really acceptable, and when it’s okay to be out of the office, many employees err on the side of caution and take less time than they would if they had a “use it or lose it” two weeks.

Compounding the problem are managers who rarely take vacations — or when they do, they “check in” with the office every day — and effectively set the same expectations for their teams. The result? Overworked, overtired, and stressed employees who resent the fact that they can’t take advantage of their paid time off.

Is It Right For Your Company?

The question, then, is whether instituting an unlimited vacation time policy is right for your company. The answer really comes down to culture. Does your company already have a culture of accountability in place? Is there a strong team dynamic of collaboration? Do the managers model work-life balance? If those factors aren’t in place, there’s a good chance that an unlimited vacation policy will not work.

In fact, many experts argue that unlimited vacation policies work best when there are some standards in place. One such policy is to mandate a minimum number of vacation days per year, with flexibility for additional time off based on performance. Other companies have created vacation time flexibility by allowing employees to earn time off based on hours worked and seniority. Those hours go into a “bank,” which employees can then withdraw time off from whenever they wish.

In the quest to keep employees happy, increase productivity, and streamline management, companies are constantly on the lookout for creative solutions. If you’re considering an unlimited vacation policy, take care to determine whether it’s right for your company, or whether you’re simply following a fad.

The Importance of Solitude in the Workplace

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When Collaboration Doesn’t Work: The Importance of Solitude in the Workplace

Solitude in the WorkplaceThese days it’s all about togetherness in the workplace. Companies around the country encourage teamwork and collaboration, believing these traits to be the solution to any corporate problem. Cubicle walls have lowered if not disappeared entirely, and departments spend their days with their heads together brainstorming solutions and building on ideas. Plus, the drastic increase in work-connected mobile devices has only increased the time workers spend communicating with their coworkers and bosses, even outside of the office. But is this really the most efficient way to get work done?

Corporate America has yo-yoed for the past few decades about whether or not collaboration or isolation is more important in the workplace. In the ‘80s, one poll found that more than 85 percent of employees wanted more private areas for work, and thus the era of high-walled cubicles began. Later, in the ‘90s, employees were tired of their exile; more than 50 percent clamored for better access to their coworkers. New research suggests that the pendulum is swinging once again toward the excess of open spaces and the need for solitude. However, companies’ historical method of creating privacy won’t necessarily cut it in the modern workplace.

Considering Productive Seclusion

In the past, companies created physical spaces for workers to seek privacy. If employees could not hear each other, see each other, or feel each other’s presence, they were in individual spaces meant for solitary work. While this may have worked in the past, when communication required face-to-face interaction, today’s office could be anywhere — from the office to a coffee shop to the beach — but that doesn’t make collaboration any less possible.

The use of mobile devices for work means employees are always accessible by their peers and superiors, which makes it incredibly difficult to find alone time to be creative and get work done. When mounting research suggests we come up with our best ideas when we’re by ourselves, employers need to start seriously considering how to allow their employees privacy at work.

Instead of relying simply on higher walls and closed doors to give employees the solitude they need to increase productivity and creativity, companies need to consider all avenues of communication when they begin drafting offices prime for both collaboration and isolation. Two different factors are at play whenever you discuss solitude in the modern workplace:

  • Stimulation. Traditionally, this is what employers are trying to limit when they create private spaces. While noise, movement, and other distractions do fall into the category of stimulation, and thus must be limited as much as possible, some necessary tools are encompassed by this as well, like email notifications or meeting invitations. Additionally, controlling stimulation can be difficult, considering its subjectivity; one employee’s comforting music may be another employee’s cause of agitation.
  • Information. The sharing and receiving of information is necessary to get work done, but the concept of information privacy has become exceedingly more complicated in the seemingly transparent world of the modern workplace. Not only must employees keep a grasp on what sensitive company data they discuss, but they must also be careful about what personal information is disseminated online or in the office. Allowing employees a private space to store information away from prying eyes is crucial to creating an area of solitude.

Creating the New Workplace

Solitude in the WorkplaceBoth employers and employees have found different methods of controlling these two aspects of workplace privacy. Given the flexibility to create the workplaces ideal for their own productivity, employees employ one or more of the following strategies of finding solitude:

  • Strategic anonymity. Setting up a table in a coffee shop or airport may seem to only increase distractions, but many people feel the ambient noise of these crowded places allows them to lose themselves amongst the crowd and hunker down to the task at hand.
  • Selective exposure. When collaboration becomes necessary for a project, individual employees prefer to choose their own method of communication at the right time for them. This prevents coworkers from interrupting a crucial train of thought and provides the opportunity to limit shared information.
  • Intentional shielding. While cubicle walls can limit visual stimulus, this doesn’t always protect workers from prying eyes or eavesdropping ears — which makes them uneasy and impacts their work. Employees would prefer to construct their own shields, whether it be taking calls in public spaces or setting up a workspace in an area where they can see approaching coworkers.
  • Purposeful solitude. People don’t always seek solitude to work — sometimes alone time is the best way to take a break and let off steam. These places don’t have to be closed offices or cubicles, but a quite courtyard can be just as effective.

Companies should keep employee preferences in mind if they hope to retain the best and brightest workforce. Strategically designing the office, drafting protocol that allows for this flexibility, and encouraging signaling during times of solitude will allow employees to get the privacy they need to be the most creative and productive they can be.

Why, When & How to Switch PEOs

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Why, When & How to Switch PEOs

Switching PEOsUsing a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) is completely necessary for most mid-sized businesses. PEOs offer a wealth of services, like providing benefits, overseeing payroll, and aiding in recruitment efforts. However, businesses expand and change, and eventually your company might outgrow the PEO you started with all those years ago.

If it’s been a while since you’ve evaluated the usefulness if your current PEO’s services, you may be due for a PEO audit to determine the value of switching providers. Here’s everything you need to know about changing PEOs.

The Why

You may have become comfortable with your current PEO, but that comfort could be clouding your ability to determine whether or not your PEO is providing everything you really need. There are four main reasons companies should seriously consider switching service providers.

  1. Cost savings. It’s just a fact: Some companies charge more for services than others. If the economy is hitting your business particularly hard, you may need to look for a PEO that better suits your budget. However, be aware that cheaper PEOs will likely provide fewer options or lower quality service than more expensive ones.
  2. Lack of transparency. Some PEOs aren’t good at letting their company clients know what their fees are going toward. Payments for various PEO services may transfer in a lump sum, and PEOs may fail to itemize the costs of their various services. Companies exist to make profit, not spend it, so companies like to know how exactly PEOs are using their money. If your PEO isn’t telling you what your funds are going toward, you may be able to do better somewhere else.
  3. Substandard service. This one is a no-brainer — if you aren’t being treated right by your PEO, it’s time to move on. Poor service can manifest in unreturned communications, inappropriate insurance, or even incorrect procedures, like wrong payments or missing benefits.
  4. Unmatched growth. The most important goal of any business is progress, and sometimes companies move faster than the providers they employ. Your business may have more workers than your PEO can handle, or you may desire benefits your PEO simply can’t provide; there are myriad ways PEOS can’t expand with a company, and the only way for a company to continue up is to get out.

When to Switch PEOsThe When

No matter the reason companies need to switch PEOs, the timing of the change can be critical. Payroll taxes and health insurance fees reset during specific times of the year, meaning selecting a new PEO services provider at the right time could save you serious money.

Payroll taxes are those taxes taken out of employee paychecks for Social Security, Medicare, and other taxes. If you change your payroll services provider at the wrong time, these already-paid taxes could actually be forfeit, meaning you’ll need to repay all of those dues. Depending on the amount on your payroll and your number of employees, you could cost yourself $100,000 or more for this mistake.

Meanwhile, providing health insurance for your employees is mandatory, and you face strict penalties if you fail to cover your employees for a certain period of time during the year. If you leave your current PEO without another PEO in the works or without appropriate coverage options for your workers, you’ll pay. Additionally, you risk your employees’ insurance deductibles; since these payments add up throughout the year, if you switch benefits packages in the middle of the cycle, you and your employees may lose all the money you’ve contributed to those deductibles and have to start over from scratch.

The How

Once you discover that your current PEO isn’t providing everything you want or need, you might be tempted to ditch them and find someone new right away. However, if you don’t allow for the proper research, you could find yourself in the same situation you started: employing an inappropriate PEO with unsatisfactory services creating intense headaches and costing you more money than you have. Instead of succumbing to that knee-jerk reaction, be patient and diligent in your new PEO search.

First, review your new needs and how your current PEO isn’t servicing them. You must know exactly what to look for before you begin your search. This will help narrow your search and give you something to look for in the long list of PEO services.

After you’ve assembled a list of likely candidates, you can revert to more traditional lines of questioning to find the perfect pick. Ask about the strength of their company (how long they’ve been in business, how many clients they serve) and their compliance with various governmental regulations. You should also be asking about fees — it’s always a good idea to get the best bang for your buck, and the cost of services could be the deciding factor in your search.

Many PEOs do their job so well you barely even remember they’re there. However, when a PEO becomes unmanageable, it’s time to look elsewhere. The search for a new PEO can be grueling, but it will be rewarding when you find a PEO with the perfect fit.

Attracting Healthy Employees

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Building a Well Workforce 101: Attracting Healthy Employees

Attracting Healthy EmployeesAmerica’s workforce is sick. Statistics abound concerning the negative diagnoses among the nation’s employees: More than 26 percent are overweight by 20 percent or more, and up to 27 percent have heart disease which puts them at risk for cardiac disorders like heart attacks and strokes. Employers are starting to realize that the only thing worse than a bad employee is an unhealthy one.

In fact, the benefits of having employees who care for their health are seemingly unending. As much as 90 percent of health care costs covered by employees are for preventable diseases, meaning you’re footing the bill for your workers’ bad habits. However, aside from simple medical expenses, employers are losing out on precious productivity when their workers aren’t well. Healthy people tend to be more active and productive, while unhealthy people have cost U.S. businesses nearly a trillion dollars over the past year due to low efficiency alone.

Though you should be doing everything possible to hire the best candidate for the job, it makes fiscal sense to bring on workers who place a strong emphasis on their personal wellness. When your employees are health-conscious to begin with, the task of preventing chronic disease is much simpler. However, if you are just starting to encourage wellness in the workplace, it can be tricky to attract those job seekers with a clean bill of health. There are a few tips and tricks to making your company more enticing to healthy job candidates.

Do Some Remodeling

Prospective employees can learn a lot about a workplace based on the small glimpses they catch during their interviews. If they see a bare, gloomy office, they probably won’t be impressed by the current office environment, and they’ll pass in favor of a company who more outwardly shares their values.

However, you don’t have to bulldoze your building to build a more visually appealing space. Open the windows, and buy some welcoming decorations like mirrors and plants to make your workplace more inviting. Though sunlight doesn’t necessarily directly impact physical health, seeing the outdoors can do wonders on one’s attitude. Plus, the freshness and friendliness of plants bring a seeming cleanliness to the air that benefits everyone in the office.

Enact Wellness Programs for Current Employees

Healthy people enjoy being around other healthy people, so fostering health among your current workforce is key to attracting the employees you want. Changing your office culture is a bit more difficult than hanging pictures on the walls, but the results can be immensely beneficial to individuals and companies alike.

Healthy EmployeesYou can show that your company is committed to health by encouraging your current employees to take steps toward their own fitness. Wellness initiatives are generally cost-effective ways to help your employees begin thinking about health. These programs take a variety of shapes; any of the following activities may be appropriate for your office:

  • Alternative commuting — walk, run, or bike to work
  • Walking meetings — skip the seating and move while you talk
  • More nutritious snacks — substitute the donuts and chips for fresh fruits and veggies
  • Celebrate success — give small gifts to those who achieve their health goals

Before you develop your program, assess employee interest in various activities. It may be that a sizable portion of your workforce is already interested in fitness and thus enthusiastic to participate; however, you may also find that you’ll need quite a bit of motivation to get whole departments invested. Be sure to consider employee feedback — valuing your workers’ voices is another healthy step toward increased productivity — and stay positive.

Emphasize Health With Your Benefits Packages

Many companies today are attempting to discourage unhealthy habits with rewards and penalties in their benefits packages. UPS, GE, and others require employees who smoke to pay additional monthly fees on their health care premiums, and Safeway and others award monetary prizes to employees who keep their weight and cholesterol within healthy limits.

Programs like these can skirt the line of the law, so be sure to talk to your PEO or other benefits provider to make sure your ideas stay legal. Health-conscious workers appreciate when their employers acknowledge their attention to fitness —  but less healthy individuals may feel discriminated against and think poorly of your company, so it’s important to be aware of the messages you send with this kind of tactic. Still, using your benefits package to demonstrate your commitment to health can be effective at advertising your company-wide fitness goals to your applicant pool.

A healthier America is a stronger and more productive America, so businesses’ emphasis on health is a positive step for the country as a whole. It is beneficial to encourage your current employees’ fitness initiatives even if you aren’t looking for new workers. No matter your goals, a healthier workforce is better for everyone, so you should take steps to overall wellness today.