Month: April 2015

Help Your Employees Manage Stress

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

5 Ways to Help Your Employees Manage Stress

Manage Stress in the WorkplaceToday’s employees are more stressed out than ever. Chances are one or more of your workers are dealing with financial worries, caring for an elderly parent, raising children, going through a divorce, or struggling with a death or illness in the family. Stress can also be the result of conditions at work, including long hours, low pay, lack of benefits, or problems with coworkers.

According to one Canadian survey, employees who consider themselves good at coping with stress also say they’re more productive at work, and put more effort into doing a good job. Stress can also cause health problems that could wind up making an employee miss work and could even affect your group health insurance rates. Helping your employees manage their stress could be one of the best things you’ll ever do for your company. Here’s how.

1. Give Them the Best Benefits Package You Can

Employees who have good benefits are less stressed, because they worry less about what will happen if they get sick or if they have to stay home to take care of a sick child. They get the paid vacation time they need to relax and unwind for a couple of weeks every year. They’re able to stay home and recuperate when they get the flu or another illness. And they’re able to pay their medical bills and save for retirement.

Give your employees the best benefits you can. If you can allow perks like flexible scheduling or telecommuting, do so. Those employees who are singlehandedly raising children, caring for elderly or sick relatives, or simply stressed by a long commute will be grateful for the increased work/life balance, and they’ll be more productive, too.

Offer your employees access to an employee assistance program, so they can seek counseling and advice when they’re struggling with personal issues. These programs are most helpful when employees have multiple ways to contact the EAP; an employee may worry about being overheard talking on the phone about his or her personal problems, so give the option to reach out to a counselor privately via text or email.

2. Encourage Employees to Exercise

Along with plenty of sleep and a healthy diet, regular exercise is one of the best stress-busters there is. You may be surprised to learn that there are plenty of options for getting your employees to exercise more. You can start by offering them a free or discounted membership at a gym close to the office.

Arrange “walking meetings” so that employees can hold their vital discussions while strolling through a nearby park; the fresh air and sunshine can foster creativity. If that’s not an option, encourage a short, 15-minute exercise break to help employees de-stress during or after a long, arduous meeting. Bring in an aerobics or yoga teacher to hold a free class for employees during lunch. Pass out pedometers and give an award to the employee who takes the most steps each month. Establish a company sports team.

3. Empower Managers to Help Struggling Employees

Managers can probably tell when an employee’s personal problems are affecting his or her work performance, but that doesn’t mean they’re equipped with the tools to help. Ask EAP counselors to come in and train your managers with some techniques to help them reach out to employees who are struggling.

An employee who’s dealing with a difficult life issue will appreciate it when a manager can reach out in a compassionate and appropriate way. Managers will appreciate being able to help restore employees’ productivity when they’re in the midst of a difficult time.

4. Encourage Employee Relationships

People who have strong social support also tend to cope better with stress. Regular staff events, retreats, team building exercises, and even happy hours can help staff bond with one another and form real friendships. Encourage mentoring and collaboration. Reach out socially to employees who seem to be having a hard time — invite them to lunch, and encourage your other employees to do the same.

Give employees the opportunity to showcase their expertise through workshops or presentations. The bonds your employees form with one another will help them cope with stress at work and at home.

Stress in the Workplace5. Coach Employees Through Life Transitions

Many of the most stressful times in an employee’s life are transitional periods or milestones — getting married, having a child, experiencing a death in the family, buying a new home, or taking in an elderly parent can all cause stress that affects work performance.

Encourage employees to be open with you about their life changes. Some companies put together packets with information about how to manage stress and specific changes, which they send to employees who are going through a transitional period.

Just checking in with an employee who’s going through life changes can reassure him or her that you care. If you’re using an EAP, make sure to remind stressed employees that these services are available, and how to take advantage of them.

Employees feel stress for a variety of reasons, and whether the stress is work-related or not, it can affect work performance. Protect your company by helping your employees manage their stress, so you can grow and succeed as a team.

 

How to Become a Better Leader

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

How to Become a Better Leader by Increasing Your Self-Awareness

Become a Better LeaderWhat is self-awareness? It’s cultivating self-knowledge. It’s making an effort to understand both your strengths and your weaknesses. It’s admitting when you’ve made a mistake, or when you don’t know the answer. It’s remaining aware of how others might perceive your words and actions. And it’s one of the most important qualities of a successful leader.

You might think that leadership means appearing infallible, but that’s just not possible. People are going to notice your personal weaknesses, even if you do your best to hide or ignore them. Acknowledging your own failings shows character, and makes members of your organization more likely to follow your lead.

So, how can you cultivate self-awareness? You’ll need to get to know yourself as well as possible. You might want to enlist friends, loved ones, and colleagues who can gently point out your flaws and draw attention to your strengths. Others can also help you change behaviors that you find detrimental. Outsourcing administrative tasks will give you more time to focus on cultivating the self-awareness that all great leaders need.

1. Know Yourself

Getting to know yourself isn’t as easy as it might first appear. Much self-knowledge comes with age, but you don’t have to wait until you’re old in order to gain a deeper understanding of your own strengths, weaknesses, and motivations.

Meditation is one time-honored technique for getting to know yourself. There are many different meditation techniques, but they all revolve around focusing your concentration on something — your breath, a mantra, or a burning candle flame, for example. You can find ample meditation resources online, including free guided meditations.

Journaling is another great way to get to know yourself. You can use a journal in a few different ways to gain self-knowledge. Benjamin Franklin reportedly used his journal to take an inventory of his own character traits, both positive and negative. He also recorded traits he wanted to develop in himself, and used this data to determine whether his character was developing in a worthwhile manner over time.

You can also use your journal to record your thoughts and feelings about business and personal decisions. Do as Warren Buffet does — write down your reasons for making each decision you make. Then, several months to a year later, revisit your rationale. Over time, you’ll gain some idea of how often you make illogical decisions, and how often your decisions are well-thought-out. This practice can help you learn more about your weaknesses and take action to correct them.

Become a Better Leader2. Ask for Feedback

It’s difficult to truly understand how you come off to others without asking them directly for feedback. Your friends, family members, and even colleagues are good sources of information about how your words and actions feel to those on the receiving end.

Ask others for candid and objective, if tactful, evaluations of your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re asking a colleague, make sure you let the person know that you’re asking as a friend, not as a boss or coworker.

Friends can also help you improve yourself by alerting you when you’re engaging in behavior that you want to change or eliminate. Even though you may have gained enough self-knowledge to be aware of a weakness or flaw, that doesn’t mean you have enough self-awareness to instantly recognize the detrimental behavior in yourself each time it appears.

For example, if you’ve discovered that you have a bad habit of interrupting others and talking over them ask a trusted friend or colleague to let you know, discreetly, when you’re doing it again. This way, you can gradually learn to notice for yourself when you’re engaging in the detrimental behavior, and learn to stop.

3. Pay Attention to What Others Are Doing and Saying

Another great way to discover which of your character traits can be considered weaknesses and which ones can be considered strengths is to pay attention to what the people around you are saying and doing — even when it has nothing to do with you. Pay attention to which behaviors elicit a positive response from you when you encounter them. Listen when others are praising what they consider another person’s positive character traits. You can work on improving your own character by endeavoring to emulate the positive qualities of others.

Self-awareness is one of the most important qualities all great leaders possess, but it’s also one of the least talked about. By cultivating a solid understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, you can learn how to acknowledge your shortcomings. Not only will this leave you room for self-improvement, it’ll also make it much easier to surround yourself with team members whose own traits, qualities, and skills help to complement yours. Together, you’ll be able to take on more than you ever thought possible.

Gender Equality in the Workplace

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How to Foster Gender Equality in Your Workplace

Gender Equality in the WorkplaceIf you’re not sure whether your workplace has a gender equality issue, then it probably has one. Men may not intentionally behave in ways that make their female coworkers feel discriminated against, but at the same time, they may not recognize issues of sexism and gender inequality because these issues don’t affect them directly. Your female employees may not feel comfortable coming forward with their concerns about gender inequality, perhaps because they’re used to not feeling heard at work, or perhaps even because they have a hard time putting their feelings into words.

How can you promote equality between your male and female employees? You can start by making sure everyone knows that gender equality in the workplace is a priority for your company. Be proactive about hiring women and offering them opportunities for raises and promotions. Give your employees the flexibility they need to meet their family commitments. You could even encourage your employees to champion gender equality causes outside the workplace.

Make Gender Equality the Company Policy

Your employees will be more likely to keep gender equality issues in mind at work if they’re constantly reminded that it’s company policy to treat female and male employees the same. Put together a set of core values that reflect your company’s commitment to gender equality and display them in a place where everyone can see it, such as in the break room.

Encourage employees to come forward when they see or personally experience issues with sexual harassment, gender-based violence, or gender-based bullying in the workplace. Establish a reporting system that protects victims from reprisal. Let your employees know that they can come to you with less serious gender equality concerns, too.

Some of your employees may not fully understand gender equality issues, but you can help change that. Bring in guest speakers to talk about issues surrounding gender equality in the workplace and at home. Develop regular team-building exercises that help promote gender equality in your workplace by encouraging the men and women on your team to work together. You could even make it a point to hire equal numbers of men and women or to assign equal numbers of men and women to work on team projects together.

Give Female and Male Employees Equal Opportunities

You may want to be proactive about hiring more women for your team. The gender wage gap may be wide open in economies around the world, but you can close it in your company by making sure your female employees get paid just as much as the men doing their same jobs. When asked outright how much money they think they should earn, many female job applicants ask for less than their male counterparts.

When you hire a new female employee, outline a fair salary range and ask the new hire to position herself within it. This will help balance the discrepancy without making the new hire feel put on the spot.

Gender Equality in the WorkplaceOffer Flexible Working Arrangements for All Employees

Although more than 57 percent of women are now in the work force, women still bear most of the responsibility for child care, elder care, and homemaking. That means that many women struggle to uphold both their professional and their personal responsibilities. You can make it easier on them by offering flexible working arrangements to all of your employees.

Instead of forcing employees to ask for telecommuting or flex working privileges that they may not even be sure are available, make sure everyone knows what their flex working options are. Make it easy for employees to choose flex hours or telecommuting one or more days a week. Some employees may be able to work entirely from home, saving you money on office space and increasing those workers’ productivity.

Make sure the men in your office have all the same flex working options as the women. It’s only fair, and with modern families being what they are, your male employees could just as easily be single parents or have elderly relatives depending on them for care.

Encourage Gender Activism

Most of your employees will probably wholeheartedly support gender equality initiatives, especially your younger employees. Promote a deeper understanding of gender inequality issues by encouraging your staff to get involved in gender activism. Campaigns like the UN’s 16 Days of Activism focus on issues surrounding gender inequality around the world, especially gender-based violence. HeforShe is a solidarity movement that encourages men to take a stand against gender discrimination and gender-based violence. Alternatively, you could encourage your staff to raise funds to help women in developing countries access health care, finish their educations, or raise seed money for entrepreneurial endeavors.

While women have made great strides toward social, legal, and political equality with men, many women still feel discriminated against in the workplace. You can make sure your female employees don’t feel that way by making gender equality a priority in your workplace. Both your male and female employees will thank you for it.