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Prioritize Employee Health This Summer With These Apps

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prioritize employee health

Ever since the first wave of COVID-19, people have been more conscious about their health. From getting vaccinated to watching their weight, Americans are more focused than ever on getting healthy. Unfortunately, prioritizing health can be a major challenge for workers facing a busy summer.

As a business owner, you’re responsible for a lot of things. You need to maintain a profitable business, satisfy customers, and continue to move your organization forward. Another high priority should be your employees and their personal health.

What you need to do as an employer is enable your workers to be able to prioritize their health. They should be able to do this even on a busy work schedule. This list of health-centered apps can be a part of your strategy. Teach — or even incentivize — your employees to use these apps, and you’ll have a happier, healthier team clocking in each day.


A big part of prioritizing health is devoting time to it. Some employees might procrastinate on things like health check-ups and doctor’s appointments because they’re afraid to miss work. Your job as an employer is to help your employees make time for their personal health.

Appointment is a program that helps companies manage meetings with clients, employees, and potential investors. Employers can use this app to block off time for workers to make it to their personal appointments. Schedules and meetings can be adjusted to accommodate their needs.

Your personal calendar will be synced with Appointment, so you can keep tabs on any changes. Let your employees know that you want to enable their health needs and use an app like this to make it possible.

Daily Water Tracker Reminder

Hydration is something you can easily do throughout the day, even while at work. Drinking water helps regulate body temperature, fight off illnesses, and improve cognition. This will help employees both at work and at home.

Staying hydrated is as simple as remembering to drink. A simple app such as the Daily Water Tracker Reminder can help out your team. This program is free for both Apple and Android devices. Users create personalized goals and track their water intake. The app helps keep you accountable to your goals and helps you visualize the progress made over time.

The amount of water you should drink varies from person to person. Different weights, heights, and levels of activity can contribute to a wide range of hydration goals. Employers can reward team members that meet their goals, wherever they are set, in an effort to boost hydration within the organization.


You can’t talk about health without mentioning the need for exercise. Daily exercise helps with blood flow and burns fat and calories. Strengthening your muscles also contributes to better stamina throughout the day, even if you work while seated at a desk.

There are numerous apps centered on exercise, but Strava has some features that stand out from the rest. For starters, it’s frequently referred to as the “social network for athletes.” Strava provides a platform for you to share workouts, photos, and comments with a global community. You can create a work-based community within the app to motivate your team to exercise together.

Strava focuses on running and cycling. Coworkers can share their favorite routes and even compete in monthly distance competitions. Perhaps your team could even train together to participate in a local race.


You are what you eat, or so they say. Eating healthy isn’t always fun, but it can drastically turn your life around. A balanced diet provides more energy, can save you money, and better protects you from getting sick.

One way to start eating better is to use a food tracking app like MyFitnessPal, available on both Apple and Android. You can manually input meals or scan barcodes to track everything you eat. MyFitnessPal helps you count calories and balance your diet.

The app is free, but there’s a premium version with additional features worth considering. Your company could add this as an employee benefit, reimbursing the cost of a monthly premium subscription to employees wishing to use the app. This will help them get healthier and happier without money being a contributing factor.


Mental health is just as important as physical health. Employees who are in a better mental health state are more engaged and productive while at work. Prioritizing mental health as an employer will also boost employee satisfaction and retention rates.

There are numerous apps that focus on different aspects of mental health. One of the most highly recommended is Headspace. It has nearly one million reviews in the Apple Store with a 4.8 overall rating. It can guide you through breathing exercises, meditation, and sleep routines.

Headspace requires a subscription, which can also be implemented into your company’s benefits package. The cost of a monthly subscription can easily pay itself off, if it makes your employees happier and more productive. Consider trying it out for yourself as well to see how big of a difference it makes.

When your workers are happy, you’ll be happy. Making their health a priority this summer might be one of the best moves your business makes this year. Start the movement today.

Image Credit: Jopwell; Pexels; Thanks!

7 Tips for Firing an Employee Gracefully and Ethically

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Firing an Employee Gracefully

As an empathetic leader, I couldn’t help but cringe when I read how Better.com let go of 900 employees…over Zoom. Not only is this a PR nightmare. It can drain morale and create a toxic work environment.

But, could it get any worse? Well, here’s what an employee, who wasn’t fired, had to say about the experience to Business Insider.

“You’re the lucky ones,” CEO Vishal Garg told them. “Garg said the people he laid off had been low performers — and then he set the bar even higher for those of us left, telling us it was time to work even harder than before,” the employee added. “It was pretty scary to hear that from someone who had just fired 900 people.”

“This wasn’t my first time being at a company going through layoffs, but this one was different,” they stated. “There was absolutely no warning, and in the aftermath, Garg belittled the laid-off workers to the rest of us and told us there would be no second chances from now on. The whole thing was demoralizing.”

“Since the layoffs, everyone has been on edge,” the employee elaborated. “We’re all looking behind our backs, expecting to get fired next. It’s not a healthy environment.”

While the optics are bad, we don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors. So maybe Garg did have a valid reason for letting these employees go. In my opinion, though, he went about it the wrong way.

Why you might have to let an employee go.

One of the most challenging decisions we have to make is to part ways with a team member as a leader. Of course, sometimes, this is inevitable. Examples would be incidents of;

  • Acts of discrimination
  • Assault and harassment
  • Criminal activity
  • Insubordination
  • Lack of competence
  • Constant absenteeism

While the hiring process is intended to weed out unprofessional individuals, sometimes they slip through the cracks. And, in some cases, they may not actually display these characteristics until they’ve settled into their roles.

Additionally, you may have to downsize to improve efficiency or reduce costs. Or, you may have to pivot and change direction to respond to market changes.

Whatever the reason, if terminating an employee is inevitable, here are seven tips to carry this out gracefully and ethically.

1. Offer opportunities for improvement beforehand.

When an employee’s performance is in question, the chances are that a series of events have led you to need to make this difficult decision. That’s why it’s recommended that you might frequently consult with each member of your team individually to discuss their progress and offer feedback on where they can make improvements. You may also want to conduct performance reviews twice a year.

Generally, termination should only be the last option if the employee has violated the company’s policies. However, an employee can use a performance improvement plan (PIP) instead of firing them. This can help them track their progress, reach their goals, or discourage destructive workplace behaviors.

If you’re unsure whether your employee is performing well, ask your other team members for their perspective. For example, you could ask them about their attendance if they’ve missed deadlines or have difficulty communicating or collaborating with others.

If you document other members of the team’s experiences, this strengthens your case for why and how an employee must improve. In short, employees should never be caught off-guard when it comes to being fired. Instead, you should give them a chance to improve.

2. Inform human resources of the employee’s behavior.

The Human Resources department should be informed of all actions taken before terminating an employee. At the minimum, this should include implementing an improvement plan and how the employee progresses. In addition, documentation provides evidence and reasons for an employee’s termination by tracking the employee’s incidents and behavior.

HR can ensure that termination is a fair decision and that the proper procedures and protocol are followed. It’s also essential for both employees and the workplace that termination procedures comply with state and company requirements.

3. Create a transition plan.

“Choose the day and the time for the termi­nation deliberately,” advises management consultant and author of How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals Dick Grote. “While experts disagree on when a firing should occur, all acknowledge the importance of having a rationale — a good business reason for your choice of time and day for dropping the ax.”

“Doing it early in the day, early in the week, encourages the employee to get right to work on finding another job,” he adds. Furthermore, this reduces the chances of them spending the weekend planning revenge. “Friday after­noons, on the other hand, often create the minimum amount of disruption to the rest of the staff,” stays Grote.

Whether or not firing an employee is the solution, always put your company interests first. You probably put up with a subpar performance for months hoping the situation would somehow improve. As the end nears, make sure that the transition goes seamlessly not to harm the company or your colleagues.

“Check the succession plan for an internal candidate,” he suggests. For example, if you need to terminate someone, you may want to start recruiting and wait until you find a replacement. Sending these subtle hints to clients, customers, and even your team that staffing changes are imminent could ultimately work in your favor.

4. Be clear and concise.

When it comes to firing an employee, winging it is never the best course of action. You need to know actually what to say and how you’ll deliver the news. That’s why it’s suggested that you also practice the conversation you will have with the employee.

“Make sure you know exactly why you’re firing a worker, have specific examples, and bring the proper documentation, writes Kathryn Vasel over at CNN. “That includes copies of performance reports, any write-ups, and applicable financial forms like unemployment insurance and health insurance and 401(k) options.”

You should be clear and firm about the termination and the next steps. “There is no room or need to get into a protracted discussion,” said Dan Ryan, founder of Ryan Search & Consulting. “It is what it is; there is no productive discussion that can take place after.”

5. Don’t humiliate the employee.

“If I must fire an employee, I treat them with dignity because I don’t want to humiliate them,” writes Mike Kappel, founder, and CEO of Patriot Software, LLC in Forbes. “I will always fire someone in private behind closed doors.”

“Employment termination isn’t just bad for that individual— it’s also bad for the other employees,” he adds. “Other employees don’t know if or when they’re going to be on the chopping block.”

It’s also possible for your employees to have relationships with the fired employee, such as being friends outside of the workplace. As such, you could “risk draining the morale of the others if you fire someone in front of” the entire team.

He suggests it might be a good idea to fire the employee after the other employees have left for the day. In that case, the terminated employee does not have to leave their office (or wherever you fired them) in front of their coworkers.

Always have a witness.

“When you need to fire an employee, you and someone from Human Resources should be the only two people in the room with them,” Kappel continues. “If you don’t have an HR department or representative, grab a witness, like a trusted employee or even your business’s lawyer if applicable.”

In the event that the employee sues you, having someone else in the room with you is imperative. Why? Because this individual can confirm your firing of the employee was legal and ethical.

During the termination of an employee, a police escort may be appropriate in very rare situations. That may sound excessive. But, if you feel that they may become aggressive or violent, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“I once had to fire an employee with a police escort,” recalls Kappel. “She threatened to beat up another employee.” She also engaged in cage fights on weekends. So, when the officer arrived, the employee was let go — and thankfully without incident.

6. Keep documentation of the entire process.

Documentation is essential for the company’s reference — both during the termination process and afterward. These documents may include records such as a written notice of termination. As a rule of thumb, you should always document any actions taken, such as implementing a Performance Improvement Plan and its results, before firing an employee.

In general, the more documentation you have, the more straightforward this process can be? Why? Because it ensures that all work procedures are followed based on your employee handbook and pertinent labor laws. And, if the employee dispute the firing, you can use these documents to validate your decision.

7. Handle paperwork and tie up any loose ends.

In addition to termination documents, you should also bring the employee’s final paycheck with you. If you offer a severance package, explain what’s included. Review any noncompete or nondisclosure agreements with the employee, along with if they’ll continue receiving benefits like health insurance.

“After learning of the termination, the employee will most likely feel confused and upset,” writes Amy DelPo, attorney, for NOLO. Prepare to assist the employee by answering questions such as;

  • “Do I work the rest of the day or leave immediately?”
  • “When can I collect my belongings?”
  • “Do my coworkers know this is happening?”
  • “What should I tell my clients?”
  • “I have appointments scheduled for the rest of the week; what should I do about those?”

It would also be helpful if you developed a plan for ongoing work before the meeting to address the following;

  • Are these projects going to be assigned to someone else?
  • Are there any tasks the employee needs to complete?
  • Is the employee required to assist with the transition?

What to do after terminating an employee.

The following steps may be necessary after firing an employee. However, doing so may avoid terminating another employee or helping the department fill the vacant position.

  • Educating employees about workplace expectations. You can accomplish this by sharing employee handbooks and having one-on-one meetings. As a result, this could be enough to prevent additional firings.
  • Keeping employees in the loop. The law outlines specific guidelines about when and how to discuss an employee’s termination. However, being transparent about an employee’s termination openly and discussing any behavior that may still exist within the workplace will discourage rumors from being spread.
  • Posting a new job to fill the existing position. Reassign tasks to other employees after terminating an employee’s employment, or have managers temporarily take on those tasks to account for the departed employee. To avoid overburdening other employees with work and responsibilities, create a new job posting for the vacant position as soon as possible.
  • Strengthening your existing team. Host team-building activities if you need to bolster morale and encourage team bonding. You could also celebrate your team’s achievements or have some fun in the workplace, like throwing a pizza party.

Image Credit: Sora Shimazaki; Pexels; Thanks!

How to Effectively Measure and Track Employee Productivity

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How to Effectively Measure and Track Employee Productivity

Prior to Covid-19, employers were increasing efforts to monitor the productivity of their employees. In fact, according to a 2018 Gartner report, 50% of 239 large corporations admitted that they were monitoring their employees. In particular, the content of their emails and social media accounts. What’s more, these companies also stated that they monitored who their employees utilized and who’s meeting with whom.

According to an Accenture survey of C-suite executives one year later, 62% of their organizations collect data about their employees. Of course, the pandemic has only accelerated employee monitoring. And, it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing.

An ExpressVPN survey found;

  • Even though 83% of employers think employee monitoring is unethical — 78% use monitoring software.
  • More than one-third of employees believe their employers don’t monitor their online activities, and 15% don’t know it’s possible.
  • The majority of employees (56%) feel stressed and anxious about their employer monitoring their communications. Moreover, 41% wonder if they’re being watched, and 32% take fewer breaks because of it.
  • The majority of employees (48%) would be willing to lower their salaries to prevent surveillance. In fact, 1 in 4 workers would take a cut of 25%.
  • Employees admit that 41% of their recorded work calls contain evidence that could lead to their termination. Additionally, 37% of employers claim to have used stored recordings as evidence for firing.
  • Moreover, employers use stored emails, messages, or calls to inform their decisions regarding performance reviews (73%) and to track potential worker unionization (46%).

So, what’s the answer here? After all, with the latest wave, companies may be rethinking their plans for re-opening. But, even when things do return to normal, remote work, or at the least hybrid offices, are here to stay.

At the same time, employers will need to measure and track their team’s productivity without making them feel anxious. It’s certainly a precarious situation. But, you can use the following ten techniques to make this possible.

1. Set clear expectations and reasonable deadlines.

I’m still baffled at how many leaders and project managers still fall into the trap of not setting clear expectations and reasonable deadlines. In my opinion, these topics should always be a top conversation priority — regardless if your team works at the office or works remotely.

If you tell your employees what you expect from them, especially in a remote working environment, they’ll be happier and more productive. If “the big talk” is an area that you’re struggling, try using the following;

  • Focus on clearly defined objectives or goals.
  • Objective and goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
  • Explain the “why” behind your expectations so that they know that their work is meaningful.
  • Provide examples and access to the right tools and resources.
  • Agree on reasonable deadlines.

2. Arm yourself, and your team, with the right tech.

“Having a surplus of communication and collaboration tools is great,” writes Deanna Ritchie in a previous Calendar article. “At the same time, you don’t have to collect them all. We’re not talking about Pokemon here.”

“Instead, limit the tools that you’re using,” Deanna recommends. “Besides decreasing distractions, it prevents everyone from bouncing back-and-forth between tools. Furthermore, it can also help reduce information overload.

Some suggested tools to measure and track your team’s productivity include;

  • Calendar can automatically schedule meetings. More importantly, with its analytics feature, you can see where your valuable time is being spent.
  • Slack is a popular messaging tool that allows you and your team to communicate and collaborate in real-time.
  • Basecamp is a project management tool designed to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Hub Staff is packed with features like time tracking, screen recording, employee monitoring, and scheduling, and payroll software.
  • Google Drive will let you and your drive collaborate on online documents together.
  • Kickidler is more than just employee monitoring software. It also comes with time tracking, employee productivity analysis, and efficiency dynamics. The Autokick feature will notify employees of their productivity stats or if they’ve been on a website too long.
  • Time Doctor is a time tracking application. It also breaks down how much time has been spent on a specific task or project.
  • Teamwork allows you to track every of your team and convert that into invoices.

3. Trust is a must.

“Trust is the foundation of every relationship in our life,” says Jen Fisher, U.S. chief well-being officer for the consultancy Deloitte. “Every positive relationship starts from a place of trust.”

Work environments built on trust are healthy and productive, adds Fisher, co-author of Work Better Together: How to Cultivate Strong Relationships to Maximize Well-Being and Boost Bottom Lines. Moreover, trust is perhaps more important than ever during this uncertain time caused by the pandemic.

“The pandemic has catapulted us into the future in many ways,” she says. “With uncertainty, you need trust and meaningful and supportive relationships.” And, you can build trust with your remote team by;

  • Reduce your team’s stress by not micromanaging, be respectful of boundaries, and communicating frequently.
  • Help them learn and grow by offering frequent feedback.
  • Get to know each team individually, even if it’s a virtual one-on-one meeting.
  • Again, have goals, objectives, and expectations that are crystal clear.
  • Share your expertise, but also admit that you don’t have all of the answers.
  • Freshen up your virtual events and meetings, like sharing achievements or going on a virtual field trip.
  • Be consistent, such as always being respectful of their time.

Above all else, be transparent. If you’re monitoring your team, let them know this in advance. And explain to them that they’re not being monitored to spy on them. Rather, you need this data to eliminate time wasters and bolster their productivity.

4. Focus on measuring outcome, not input.

“Employee monitoring was pervasive before the crisis,” notes Ryan Wong in Entrepreneur. “In 2018, research found that 50% of large corporations were using email monitoring and location analysis..” However, “in the early months of lockdown, use of monitoring software skyrocketed, with industry leaders like Teramind and ActivTrak reporting record increases in sales requests.”

“For employers, monitoring tools might seem a useful stopgap at a time when teams aren’t in the office,” he adds. The problem? “Time spent at a keyboard or in front of a webcam is hardly indicative of performance or productivity.”

Monitoring in this manner is actually detrimental to obtaining the results you desire. Employees who are aware their keystrokes are being tracked, for example, are incentivized to produce high-volume work that has little commercial value.

“The deeper issue is that, in many ways, we’ve measured productivity all wrong — confusing inputs for outcomes,” states Wong. “Even tracking ‘hours,’ the oldest of workplace metrics, is fundamentally misleading. Just knowing someone has worked a 40-hour week gives little insight into what they actually accomplished.”

The better approach? Measure and reward business outcomes. “These will differ from business to business and employee to employee — and that’s precisely the point,” he explains. “Taking the time to first define what success looks like, and then finding ways to measure — is the surest way to boost output. Handy schema like KPIs, OKRs, and KRAs, all circle around this central premise.”

5. Reward quality, not quantity.

When it comes to your employee’s work, it’s important to find a way of measuring quality. As an example, think about the customer service you provide. Your brand’s reputation depends on it, but it’s hard to measure.

With that in mind, consider quality when putting systems in place to track employee productivity. And, ask yourself, “What can you do with it to track job performance?”

For instance, is there any feedback you received from a distributor regarding an employee who went beyond the call of duty? While your employee might have needed more time to complete this level of work, the value you received is incalculable. And that should definitely be measured and rewarded.

6. Use positive reinforcement.

It should come as no surprise that happy employees are more productive. However, happiness doesn’t always mean giving them a raise. While that can help, you can increase employee happiness through positive reinforcement, such as;

  • Showing compassion, empathy, and gratitude
  • Focusing on meaningful work
  • Treating employees with respect
  • Not blaming others for failure
  • Providing constructive feedback
  • Rewarding good work with acknowledgment or promotions.

7. Manage task distribution.

Identifying each employee’s strengths and weaknesses can be accomplished by analyzing the data. For example, you might notice that one team member completes a task much faster than anyone else. Ideally, you should give this employee all these responsibilities going forward to increase your team’s productivity. By doing this, everyone will have more free time in their schedules, which will increase productivity.

Understand why your weakest performers are less productive than other team members. For example, perhaps they’re having difficulty with certain programs, applications, or tasks related to their work. In this case, you may consider training them to improve their skills and increase their productivity.

8. Measure both short-term and long-term.

Track-specific key performance indicators for both short- and long-term goals.

Recognizing small accomplishments will keep employees motivated to work towards bigger goals.

Furthermore, this presents an impressive picture. While it may not seem obvious, the little things can have a huge impact on pushing your team towards the big goal.

9. Eliminate time-wasters.

Analyze the data to see where your employees spend a lot of time. For example, you might want to restrict employees’ access to these websites or apps during the workday so that they aren’t distracted.

Data may also indicate that certain clients are taking up a lot of your employees’ time, making them less productive than they should be. It’s possible that your business isn’t even making money from that client. As such, it may be worthwhile to revisit a time-wasting client relationship to make your team more productive.

10. Focus on the bottom line.

Increasingly, small companies are focusing on their bottom line instead of the hours worked by employees. This allows them to track progress while ensuring that their employees have more flexibility — mainly how and when they work.

Moreover, there are several cost benefits to having a remote team. This includes reducing rent and utilities, cleaning services, food, and taxes. In fact, the average real estate savings with full-time telework is $10,000/employee/year. Additionally, remote teams tend to be more productive. They’re also less absent, more likely to stay with your company, and would prefer working from home than accepting a pay raise.

Meaningful Motivation: What Actually Drives Employee Engagement

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Meaningful Motivation: What Actually Drives Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is tricky. While our workers tell us money is the way to maximize productivity, results tell a different story. What do we believe?

Recent experiments run by Dan Ariely, author of the book Payoff, showed that money is a poor motivator for getting the best work out of people. In fact, large bonuses for key executives produced deteriorating efficiency.

Based on these findings, if not money, what incentives produce the output employees?

Here are 3 rewards other than cash that we can give to our workforce to boost productivity. All these privileges have been shown to produce more engagement in companies than dollar-based incentives. Start using these motivation boosters in your business today, and watch your company culture and happiness increase substantially.

1. Seeing a satisfied customer

One of the worst parts about pivoting in a startup is the amount of previous work you must throw away. Imagine working 12 hours a day, sacrificing family time, and working weekends to help build a product you believe in. Then after months or years of working your tail off, the company you work for scratches the project. No one will use what you built, and now you have nothing to show for it. Your motivation is gone.

Unfortunately, this scenario is seen in companies of all sizes. While many times an instance like this is unavoidable, the way decision-makers handle a scenario like this can make all the difference.

Seeing a customer have a great experience with something that you helped create is a wonderful feeling. It allows you to see first-hand that what you are working on has a greater purpose, and you can see with your own eyes the positive effect you have caused.

To take advantage of this, if your company is going through a pivot, find ways to save as much of the work that you did as possible. Tie it into your new product, or dig into the processes that worked well before you pivoted and incorporate them into your new plan.

Throughout the building process, bring customers in and have them test the product in front of your team. When your employees see customers light up, they will light up as well.

Once the product is built, share positive feedback from your customers directly with your staff.

When I receive positive comments about the content my team produces, I share it directly with my team. It means more to them to see the customer say good job than it does for me to tell them the same.

People want to work for companies that are improving the lives of others. The best way to show your team they are working for a purpose is to allow them to see happy customers with their own eyes.

2. Meaningful motivation builds trust

Sadly, some employees view trust as more of a privilege than a right. For these organizations, motivation is nonexistent.

While having faith in your team can increase employee output exponentially, not having confidence in them can lead to your company lacking vision and any kind of connection with the organization.

While trust can be expressed in a variety of ways, one of the best is enabling a sense of autonomy to your workers. For instance, in my company, we allow everyone to work from home. There is no office, and we don’t have a set start time. We update each other on our daily schedule and all have tasks we are responsible for that day, but there is no micromanaging.

When I was deciding to build a company this way, I thought about the kind of company culture I’d want to work for. I didn’t want a company who treated me like a child. I wanted to be an equal in an organization, not a prisoner. As I’ve built an autonomous culture in my own company, the rewards have been substantial. Happier employees, increased productivity, and less burn out are just a few of the perks.

The more trust you put in people the better results you’ll get. If you don’t have assurance in your team, then you’re hiring the wrong people.

3. Congratulating Employees For A Job Well Done

When an employee is doing an amazing job, the first thought in many employer’s minds is to up their salary. The issue with this thought process is that the worker quickly becomes used to the increased pay anytime they do something well. So when they do something exemplary again, they want a bigger bonus. Then an even bigger bonus, and on and on.

Try going back down the ladder, and your worker will be furious. Once pay has become the dictator of worth, smaller bonuses are seen as a bad thing not a great motivator.

Instead, positive reinforcement is shown to be just as effective as increased pay but without diminishing returns. So, let’s say if instead of paying you a fat bonus for a project you knocked out of the park, I tell you how great of a job you did and invite you out for a drink. To most people, this will be an equal motivator as a bonus. But, when you do amazing things in the future, you won’t expect more money, you’ll instead just expect me to give you more praise.

Appreciating employees is easy. There are no monetary resources that you need to pour in. All you need is sincerity and time. Over the long term, this is a much better way to motivate your workforce, and a better way to build your company culture.

8 Best Employee Perks on a Budget

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8 Best Employee Perks on a Budget

When business is good, your employees should share some of the reward for the work they do every day. One obvious way to keep your workers motivated and encouraged is to provide a good benefits package. Tossing an extra perk or two into the mix could well prove a deciding factor in your ability to attract and retain hard-working employees.

Your business might be dealing with a tighter budget these days due to the recent pandemic. Or, perhaps you’re managing a new startup without a lot of wiggle room. It is possible, though, to offer your employees a few perks without breaking the bank. Here are just a few ideas:

1. Offer a Flexible Schedule

Time is everyone’s most valuable asset; it’s the one thing that can’t possibly be replaced. Consider allowing your employees to spend their time the way they’d prefer.

Of course, every employee will need to put in a certain number of hours every week, but allowing at least some flexibility can provide a boost to morale. You might even be surprised to find that this perk increases productivity.

As long as deadlines are met, an employee coming in a little late or leaving early shouldn’t be a huge cause for concern. Pushing this idea one step further, consider offering remote work options that allow trusted employees to transition away from the office to home as needed. Being allowed to finish projects at home allows workers to stay connected to family and keep office stress levels to a minimum.

2. Keep It Casual … Within Reason

When employees need to be in the office, allow casual clothing as long as it stays appropriate and is not a distraction. Giving employees some leeway to decorate their own offices increases their comfort. This sort of freedom is greatly appreciated and can be implemented without any additional bottom-line cost.

Be aware that you might need to enforce an occasional upgrade to employee dress code on days when potential client meetings are held on site. Be clear with all of your employees about what you expect on special days and the impression you wish to make. Casual wear can be great for spurring creativity, but it might not be the best choice when courting investors.

3. Offer Employee Discounts

Whenever possible, extend an employee discount on your products and services. This can be a welcome bonus if your product is highly desirable or your service is needed on a regular basis. If you run a cleaning company, say, provide a discounted price for employees requesting the service or a discount on supplies they can take home.

Maybe your company doesn’t offer products or services employees need. A worker at a marketing firm won’t have much call for those services unless they’re launching a business of their own. In this case, get creative as you look for partnerships with other companies. Maybe your company could offer in-kind services to a local restaurant. Offer to run a marketing campaign for them in exchange for food vouchers you can distribute to your team.

4. Invest in Wellness Programs

The health of your employees should be a top priority. Many companies already offer some form of health insurance, but expanding on those plans can be cost-prohibitive. Fortunately, there are other health and wellness perks you can offer in the meantime.

For example, some gym memberships cost as little as $10 a month. Memberships will enable your employees to manage their health more effectively. Vouchers for spas, physical therapy, or massage studios are another wellness perk you can offer your team.

5. Consider Expanding Paid Time Off

Everyone appreciates getting a day off with pay. While you can’t be expected to pay your team to do nothing continuously, offering an extra day off every so often will score huge points. You send a strong signal to your employees that you value them as human beings and see them as more than productivity machines. An extra Friday off gives employees a chance to plan a short-term vacation without worrying about lost income.

Even better, giving employees the option to either take a paid day off or accept those hours as additional pay puts them in control of your largesse. Hopefully, you have at least a few employees who love what they do and would be grateful to get a little extra cash instead.

6. Provide Opportunities for Professional Development

Take an active interest in your team members’ career goals. Check in with them regularly to ask how they’d like to expand their skill sets. Your company will benefit as your employees expand their network and take advantage of opportunities to advance their career. You don’t want to become known as an employer that holds people back.

As appropriate, send your employees to conferences, speaking engagements, and networking events as they become available. If possible, offer assistance for any college courses or online classes employees are taking to hone new skills. As you invest in their future, you’re likely to benefit from improved work performance — and greater loyalty.

7. Promote Ride-Sharing and Office Commute Assistance

Most employees have to commute to the office every day. Managers can look for ways to make drive time more bearable by offering fuel credits or bus cards as an alternative. Once the pandemic passes, organizing an office carpool would help employees save money and appeal to those who want to minimize their environmental impact.

Some companies are even offering a fleet of office bicycles as a clean alternative to cars. When the weather permits, employees living relatively close to the office can choose to leave their car in the lot overnight and get a little fitness time as well.

8. Host Informal, Upbeat Company Activities

Holding some after-hours activities is a great way to bring your team closer together. Company activities can be a nice employee perk. As long as the events are properly planned and you make it clear that participation is 100% optional.

If your budget allows for it, look into discounted group tickets for athletic events, movies, or other entertainment. You might even think about offsetting the cost of babysitters or otherwise helping those with families enjoy a worry-free night out.

Take some time to see what your company can reasonably offer without sacrificing its stability. Offering your team one perk is better than nothing. And, you want to be able to offer something without regretting it later. Perks are best offered with an open hand and a sincere heart.

Should Your Startup Have Summer Hours?

By | Time Management | No Comments

It happens every year as the weather gets warmer — employee productivity comes to a screeching halt. Employee productivity taking a slight dive at the beginning of summer isn’t breaking news. Business owners have noticed this trend for years. It’s said that when agencies in New York realized that employee productivity decreased in the summer, specifically on Fridays, they began to offer “Summer Fridays.”

More recently, studies show that productivity drops by 20 percent, attendance dips by 19 percent, and project turnaround times increase by 13 percent. Additionally, 45 percent admit that they get more distracted. In particular, 63 percent socialize more with coworkers, 51 percent take longer breaks, and 49 leave early a few days a week.

While there some ways to keep your team motivated throughout the dog days of summer like having meetings outside, providing refreshments, encouraging more frequent breaks, and rewarding proactive staff, is there something more useful than establishing summer hours?

Some research reports that having a shorter workweek is counterproductive because to leave earlier on Friday; people have to put in more time Monday through Friday. As a result, they become more stressed and less productive. At the same time, most people can work from home — which can improve their output.

So, before making a final decision, let’s go over the pros and cons of your startup having summer hours. And, if you think it will work for your business, I’ll throw in some pointers on how you can implement them.

The Benefits of Summer Hours

The main advantage of summer hours is that it grants employees a more flexible schedule so that they can maintain a healthy work-life balance. While this is important for year-round, this is especially true during the summer. For example, if you have children, you may want to work four days a week so that you can enjoy a three-day weekend with them. Or, you may have to adjust your hours so that you work when they’re not around.

Having a flexible schedule increases employee productivity since it prevents burnout, builds trust, and makes people happier. “Our policy is basically that if you need to leave early to get somewhere, you come in early to finish your work or make sure all of your responsibilities are handled before you leave,” David Heath, CEO, and Co-Founder of the sock company Bombas, told Entrepreneur. “It shows your team that you trust them to handle their own responsibilities.”

Consulting firm Adecco also found that shortened workweeks “increase employee morale and all the good things that go with that, such as higher retention, candidate attraction, and productivity.” Roy Cohen, author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide,” tells CBS News that “A half-day on Friday motivates employees to work as hard as possible to get as much done as they can in four hours, and it is empowering.”

Finally, technology allows most of us to work whenever we want. Believe it or not, getting away from common workplace distractions, and changing up your routine can boost your productivity.

The Drawbacks of Summer Hours

Of course, there are some disadvantages to summer hours. Most prevalently, it’s the additional stress some of your team members may have. They may feel too much pressure to get as much done as possible in less time. Instead of having five days to complete all of their work, they’re done to three or four days.

Moreover, some people may use shortened workweeks as an excuse to slack off. It can also be more challenging to schedule meetings since employees aren’t in the office as much. And, it may be conducive for your specific business.

“Flexible schedules may not work with certain client-facing positions that are heavy on client service and which require the same employee to interface with the client,” Midge Seltzer, co-founder and executive vice president of Engage PEO told Business News Daily.

These types of schedules are also harsh on new business ventures. “Companies just starting need every minute of every day to ensure their success,” David Daneshgar, co-founder of BloomNation.com told Care.com. “We are a growing startup facing major competitors.” For his company, June through August is a summer hustle.

Types of Summer Hours Policies

As you weigh the pros and cons, you should also take into consideration the various types of summer hours models. These include:

  • Half-day Fridays. Here employees can leave work early, such as noon or 1 PM. To make-up, for these hours, they will have to put in an additional hour Monday – Thursday.
  • Early Friday dismissal. Another option is to let your team depart in the afternoon, such as around 3 PM. Having an early day allows them to wrap-up their priorities and still get out early.
  • Shorter hours on any day they chose. Having a few days where employees can decide a shorter day can be a win-win since it keeps your startup open five days a week while also allowing employees to enjoy their summer.
  • Every other Friday off. Another way to keep your business operating while also giving people Fridays off is to alter their schedules. The schedule means one employee works on Friday but will have off next week. Another employee is working when their colleague is off.
  • Every Friday off. You may wish to shut-down the shop every single Friday. Again, your team may have to put in more hours during the week. Or, you could be generous and give them unlimited time off.
  • Allow employees to work from home. Working from home doesn’t have to be on Fridays. For example, you may only need your team to come in three days a week. They can then work from home the other days.

Making Summer Hours Work For You

If you want to implement summer hours at your startup, there are a couple of final factors to consider. At the top should be knowing how flexible your business and specific jobs are. If you provide a service, you may need to have some technical support available as much as possible.

Additionally, you should be aware of deadlines, the stress level of your team, and whether or not they’re reliable. To get a better understanding of this, you may want to survey them to gather their feedback. You could also give the shortened hours a trail run and track your team’s progress.

If you do decide to go forward, make sure that you communicate the new policy and stay consistent with it. You don’t want to start off giving employees off every Friday to backtrack and implement half-days on Fridays. It’s confusing, and they may have already made plans.

And don’t forget to keep track of everyone’s hours. Depending on the state where you operate, you may have to pay overtime to employees if they work more then 8 hours per day — this is the case in California.

If your startup has summer hours, how have they worked out for you and your team?

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