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Uncovering the Root Cause of Workplace Stress

According to the American Institute of Stress, job stress is the primary source of stress for American adults, and it is progressively getting worse over the last several decades.

Long-term, increased stress can lead to all types of health conditions, including hypertension, heart attack, anxiety and sleep disorders. 

Americans are working longer and harder than ever before. A government report found that the number of hours worked increased by eight-percent in one generation by the late 1990s, which means that Americans went from working an average of 40 hours to 47 hours a week. Globally, Americans are different from other countries. While in 1995, workers in Japan worked more than Americans, now Americans put in an extra month more of work than the Japanese and an astounding three months more than those working in Germany. 

The Health Effects of Stress

Occupational stress can cause a variety of physical ailments, including:

  • 30 percent suffer from back pain
  • 28 percent complain of stress
  • 20 percent report feeling tired 
  • 13 percent suffer from headaches

Job Stress is Costly

According to the American Institute of Stress, job stress costs U.S. businesses more than $300 billion annually, which is primarily due to:

  • Absenteeism
  • Accidents
  • Employee turnover
  • Medical, legal and insurance-related costs
  • Poor productivity
  • Workers’ compensation claims

Common Causes of Workplace Stress

There are many reasons that workplace stress exists and occur on the job, such as:

  • Lack of clarity; unclear objectives
  • Insufficient employee support
  • Poor cohesion amongst teams and employees
  • Employees have little control over their work or experience micromanaging
  • Difficult or inflexible work hours
  • Psychological harassment
  • Poor management and lack of communication policies
  • Poor health and safety policies

Human resources departments should work to help companies minimize stressful environments, which can significantly boost employee satisfaction and retention rates.


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Four Workplace Trends That Positively Change Performance

Workplace performance can be influenced by external factors and even society’s changing ideologies. Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report shows that when employees are positively engaged at work, their profitability increased by 21 percent; however, only 51 percent of employees report being actually engaged at work. The following workplace tech trends will help positively change employees’ work environments, thus increasing their overall performance and profitability.

Prioritizing Workplace Safety

The #metoo movement has helped to address the issues of workplace safety and harassment. Employees that witness harassment are more likely to begin searching for new employment. How well a company responds to misconduct, including harassment and discrimination, is essential, which is why employers need to facilitate more open lines of communication.

Collaboration

Open employment engagement is important, especially as more jobs focus on computer work and being behind a desk. Whether it’s using Google Docs or Slack, incorporating collaborative techniques can help boost employee productivity dramatically. 

Work-Life Balance

Studies show that three out of four employees have a difficult time balancing their family work and other personal obligations. Furthermore, more employers are offering flexible working schedules and arrangements to help employees better balance and manage their time. Employees that can have more flexible work arrangements are more satisfied with their overall work culture. 

Technology to Support Inclusion and Diversity

By building a work environment that embraces inclusion and diversity, you can help encourage employees to produce new, innovative ideas. Different experiences and backgrounds unique shape us, which helps create a multi-talented team.


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Three Best Practices HR Managers Should Implement into a Family Business

Working for a family business can have its shares of challenges. While it may be successful and maintain a solid reputation on the outside, it may not have the traditional structure, policies, or work environment as other corporations on the inside. 

Changing the ways of a corporation since “the father or grandfather” founded the business more than 40 years ago will not happen overnight, but it’s not entirely impossible – especially if it will benefit the company in the long term and resonates successfully to the “corporate family members or board.” Here are three key best practices to suggest if you land a HR management role at a family-run business.

  • Set a Professional Foundation.

According to jobstreet.com, certain family members – such as a son, daughter, or sister – may feel entitled to a more senior position within the company or some owners may expect that family members work twice as hard as regular employees. Both situations can potentially be unfavorable and have a negative impact on exit plans, so you need to ensure there’s a structured platform of professionalism. You should also try to prevent unprofessional behavior, tardiness or even favoritism, which can all be common. The result could be a positive one without any distinction between family members and non-family members, which can result in more objective and sound decision making. 

  • Implement Training Sessions

Jobstreet.com also suggests that you implement succession planning, talent management plus regular training among employees to not only grow but to ensure the company successfully moves forward. After all, it’s not uncommon for many family members to “grow up” within the family business and also have long-term, loyal employees. While they may be knowledgeable of operations, the industry and company structure, it’s vital for any company to change with trends and always implement best business practices.

  • Increase Retention Practices 

Walking into a family business may sometimes seem like stepping back in time. Its company policies may be redundant and expectations from employees may be old school. For instance, according to Boston Consulting Group (BCG), it’s not uncommon for company leaders of a family business to expect employees to work as hard and as long as they did earlier in their careers. So, it’s important to make them to realize that employees’ expectations have changed. Millennials even Generation Xers now seek a better work-life balance, comfortable work environments, career development, plus rewards and recognition for their work. Implementing benefits, holiday hours, vacation time, and bonus structures, to name a few incentives, will not only increase moral, but attract better talent and increase overall retention. 

There are countless of family businesses that are successful. While some have different policies and structures than other corporations, these are just a few of the best practices that HR managers should implement or strengthen to ensure company growth and a strong future. By signing up with Ninja Gig, companies easily promote openings using online employment applications. Online job applications make it easy for qualified applicants to apply. Sign up now for your free trial and get your online job applications in front of potential candidates now.

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Is Your Employee Telling the Truth?

Managing a work environment is no simple task for HR employees. It’s a good assumption that most seasoned HR professionals and managers have heard every complaint, dispute, personal problem, sickness, theft and quite possibly more from employees.

While these are all sensitive issues in a work environment, how can you tell if an employee is in fact not telling the truth to reap inner-office sympathy, a day or two off work, or some of a company’s policy benefits? Short of being a mind reader, there are ways to detect that an employee is lying. An article published at www.experityhealth.com, reveled some unique indicators that just may end up revealing the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  

  • Reading Body Language

This is an interesting one. When a “suspected” employee is questioned about a certain situation, they may exhibit certain defensive or protective body language. This could include covering their mouth with their hands, avoiding eye contact, excessive fidgeting, or “shifting their body away from the questioner.”

  • Understanding Timelines

Resorting to a timeline of events is an effective method. While it all depends on the situation, many issues or concerns may include some sort of timeline. Guilty employees can get confused and lured into the truth if they explain times and dates out of order, are evasive about key details, or just have “a blank look” when asked about certain moments.

  • Change of Voice

Lying can be stressful even among the best of them. The fact that stress can cause the vocal cords to constrict, a lying employee’s voice may crack, have a higher or lower pitch, or they may start clearing their throat. 

Although, HR professionals are not expected to have the training of an interrogator for the FBI, they don’t need to. Yet, it’s important not to be naive and clearly understanding some of these signs. In the end, by setting an example and implementing the consequences will only provide for a more secure and honest work environment. 

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How to Deal with an Employee Who has a Negative Attitude

Employees with a negative attitude are never productive for any company. Not only are they difficult to work with, but their negative outlook can spread throughout the staff, affect moral and disrupt progress or success of a business. Also, over time, an employee’s negative behavior could mean the difference between gaining and losing a client or valuable employees. 

To ensure a harmonious work environment, HR managers should first recognize who the employee(s) are that have a negative attitude. An article on NaturalHR.com, explains that this may be more difficult than it seems but some sure signs include:

  • They always question management and constantly disapprove of decisions. 
  • Protesting against work volume, co-workers or the company.
  • Creating rivals between employees and management. 
  • Overstating mistakes by either the company or other employees.

If you recognize some of these characteristics, arrange a meeting with the employee. Before speaking to them, however, clearly recognize how their attitude is effecting the work environment. Are employees upset or discouraged? Are employees leaving for other opportunities? Is success or progress in the company being affected? Whatever the concerns, organize your thoughts and notes, and speak clearly about the issue(s) at hand and try the follow practices as suggested by Natural HR: 

  • Keep it professional. Don’t make it seem like it’s a personal attack. 
  • Be clear and relay examples of their bad/negative attitude and that it needs to change for the better. By being vague or evasive won’t necessarily address or solve the problem. 
  • Always listen to what the employee has and let them voice their concerns. There may be a root cause. 
  • Try not to point the finger directly at them. Rather than using “you have a bad attitude ” try explaining “we are seeing some negativity around the office because of your bad attitude.
  • While it’s important to be clear that their behavior has to change, try to conclude the meeting on a positive note, and how they can make a difference in the workplace. 

It’s never easy confronting an employee with issues that can have an effect on other staff and even a company. By following some of these steps, it can alleviate some problems and provide the chance for a more pleasant work space.  
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Is an Employee Underperforming? Here’s What You Can Do

Having a one-on-one with an employee who is not meeting their expectations in their role can be a challenge among HR professionals and managers. Whether it addressed during a performance review or a separate meeting, it should hopefully serve as a productive means of improving their focus, skills and overall competence.

Being properly prepared with the specific details of their performance and expectations are essential to a productive meeting. The topic of conversation may not be the most optimistic at first, but by clearly understanding where an employee could improve and following certain guidelines, you can turn a negative situation hopefully into a positive one.  

  • Talk to the Them ASAP

It’s not difficult for any seasoned manager to recognize an employee is struggling in their role. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests its best to arrange a meeting with the employee much sooner than later. In some cases, an employee may be aware of their underperformance, and are possibly expecting such a meeting to take place. So, by delaying the meeting, they could possibly use that to their advantage and allege an unlawful action through a lawyer. In the event the discussion needs be delayed, document the planned meeting and include what is involved, and why it had to be postponed. 

  • Hear Them Out 

No one likes to hear bad news about their work performance. Nonetheless, they may have good reason for not meeting their responsibilities, and perhaps a sound solution can be made moving forward. So, be sure to hear them out or find the source of the problem.

  • Document Everything 

While it’s important to document why the meeting was postponed, it’s ten times as important to document everything that was discussed. In the event that the employee is terminated and a wrongful dismissal lawsuit results, you’ll have the meeting on company record. From using formal guidelines, stating company policies, and explaining expectations, to outlining consequences and getting a signature are just some of the aspects to document.

  • Be Clear on The Company’s Expectations

The SHRM also recommends that the employee is made aware of their expectations, clarify what the problems are, set specific objectives (that may involve some further training) and then arrange a date to discuss progress. On a final note, the meeting should conclude on a positive note, which may provide some added diligence to their role and overall performance. 

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Three Basic HR Best Practises You Should Never Ignore

Human Resources may not be the easiest department to work for in a company. During any given week, HR professionals are often known to break the good news with the bad; hiring a key candidate or turning one down; organizing certain roles during restructuring;  all the while hiring, recruiting and retaining top talent.

Contrary to popular belief among employees (and even HR professionals), the bad doesn’t always outweigh the good, and best practices are constantly being established to ensure this.

In an article on recruiter.com, one best practice to always resort to is creating an employee feedback system. Feedback is an effective means of learning more about suggested changes. Perhaps start conducting what recruiter.com calls employee satisfaction services, or create feedback channels to stay current on certain issues within a company and employee’s concerns.

In the same article, it explained that HR professionals should implement special incentives or performance-based bonuses among employees. While a common practice, it always feels good to be rewarded for hard work and when accolades come down from upper management, it not only maintains good morale, but productivity as well.

The topic of recruiting practices can be discussed until eternity, and is a hot topic all its own. To offset some of the challenges of recruiting, creating and maintaining talent pools is essential for any HR pro.

Talent pools are basically a database of potential candidates to resort to in the time of hiring. According to Monster.com, talent pools are “a contingency plan and can result in reducing costs or time and productivity is not affected too much by a skills shortage. According to Monster.com, some effective ways of building a talent pool include:

  • Remember Previous Potential Applicants: Even though a previous candidate didn’t receive that final offer, it doesn’t mean their skills and qualifications are at a loss for future roles. File their resume (and any additional documents) and add them to “your pool” for reference down the road.
  • Network, Network, and Network:  Trade shows, industry conferences, association meetings, to name a few, are all effective ways of meeting and interacting with potential candidates for future hires. Ask for business cards, request a CV, or basic contact information (and adding separate notes) for your data base is a great way to increase references for the future.
  • Online Searches: This day and age networking is not limited to industry functions. Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and several social networking sites make it so simple to reach out to a potential candidate. This is also something to do when the time allows and always keep their details in a data base.

 

Most of all, Monster.com recommends to keep your talent pool small. It should only contain professionals who will make a difference to your company. Also, the more effort you take to create a solid talent pool, the less work will be required when it comes to the hiring process.

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Four Great Ways Managers Can Relieve Stress for Employees

Your staff stressed at work? They’re not the only ones.

According to Wrike’s United States stress statistics from 2019, 94 percent of American workers reported experiencing stress at their workplace. This means just a mere six percent that were surveyed are content and stress-free. What’s more, as reported by The American Institute of Stress, businesses in the United States lose upwards of $300 billion annually as a result of workplace stress.

Based on these stats, it’s safe to say that stress is more the rule in the workplace than ever before. Having a healthy and happy staff is one of the keys to success. Even though stress may be part of this success, there are ways managers or HR managers can create a less stressful environment.

Data from a national survey of more than 1,000 office employees conducted by Bridge by Instructure, reported that “employers may not be providing the right tools or atmosphere to help employees achieve the work-life balance for full productivity and engagement.”

As a result, Bridge by Instructure recognized the following ways for employees to alleviate stress and a practice that HR managers should encourage among staff.

Here are four key points to consider.

Be More Proactive with Managers

Have your employees communicate more with managers or executives about their needs and career goals. In turn, this can help reduce stress and enable them to achieve greater job satisfaction. It can also help you – as a manager – fulfill more responsibilities.

Take Breaks from the Desk

Sitting for hours can takes its toll more than we realize. So, tell employees to take quick breaks, stand up, grab a coffee, or perhaps exercise with walks or aerobics during lunch. Combined, these actions throughout the work day can reduce stress.

Disconnect

In an age where email and wireless communications reign supreme and 24/7 work cycles are common, employees should take time each day to shut of their phone and other smart device(s) and close their laptop. As a result, this will not only reduce stress, but increase productivity during work hours.

 Take Time Off When Needed

Even though there may never be a good time to take time off or call in sick when needed, encourage your staff to use Paid Time Off (PTO) and use designated sick days when they feel under the weather. Believe it or not, getting away or absences from work increase productivity and improved engagement when they return.

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Are Office Politics Dominating Your Work Environment? Here’s How to Manage Them.

According to collinsdictionary.com, office politics are defined as the ways that power is shared in an organization or workplace, and the ways that it is affected by the personal relationships between the people who work there.”

Office politics is common in any company. Nonetheless, they can ruin productivity, reduce morale, and cause much wasted time, effort, and even good talent. Competition for advancement, striving for constant attention (and the boss’s ear) and the need to always get “your own way,” are not all, but some of the root causes.

Let’s be honest. Office politics can get down, right nasty.

A national survey of more than 1,000 office employees conducted by Bridge by Instructure, Inc., a talent management software suite for businesses, reported “over half believed engaging in workplace politics is an important factor in receiving a promotion.”

While this may be true in some cases, it also means other employees with talent could be disregarded for their efforts and not given the rewards they deserve.

So, what can hiring managers or managers do about this? A lot.

Find the Source

Office politics can arise where competition is fierce. As a result, it’s important to determine who the employee (or sometimes employees) is that is causing the politics in the first place.

It’s not hard to spot. As a manager, try to recognize those superiors who play favorites or those employees who thrive on gossip beyond the water cooler chit chat. In fact, www.mindtools.com suggests to see who gets along with who; which employee(s) find it more difficult to interact with others; determine in-groups, out-groups or cliques; or if interoffice connections are based on respect, friendships, or even romances.

In the event the workplace does get heated (as it often can with office politics) it’ll be easier to determine the source, and find a temporary solution for the problem. Unfortunately, office politics never really go away.

Strive for Open Communication

Communication in the workplace is essential for productivity, growth, and success. It’s also reduces the chances of politics, according to The Management Study Guide. They recommend employees should not play with words and always pass on the information in its desired form. Plus communicate via texts, emails, or various work management software to avoid confusion is also a good idea. From a manager’s perspective, request to be cc’d or bcc’d on any communication to avoid any miscommunication or problems down the road.

 

Promote Transparency and Team Work

A productive workplace is often a happy workplace. As a manager, encourage transparency at all levels so employees are clear of company goals. Policies should also be same for everyone. The Management Study Guide suggests team work should be promoted to not only strengthen bonds amongst employees, but develop stronger relationships.

While there are many methods for managers to combat politics, it just takes a few basic management skills. Once the politics are reduced, you can feel good about managing a sound, creative and productive work environment.

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How to Avoid a Confrontation during a Performance Review

Performance reviews. People love ‘em or hate ‘em. Regardless, they do have a place in any corporation to ensure development and growth, recognition, and even retention. However, not all performance reviews are positive experiences for managers and employees.

For instance, outside of job performance and growth, an employee may have some complaints about other staff members, the overall work environment or other concerns. So, managers should listen carefully, consider how to phrase their comments, be constructive, and provide suggestions on how the issue(s) can be resolved.

According to Hays Specialist Recruitment, there are certain steps managers can take to turn a potential confrontation into easy discussion with ample resolve.

Take “Issues” Head On 

Employees are often provided the chance to raise concerns about problems with other employees, complaints of being treated unfairly, or issues with heavy workloads, etc. If this happens, no matter how big or small the issue, Hays suggests that managers should be astute, take the issue head-on, and try to avoid the employee from dwelling too much on the problem at hand.

Find the Source of the Problem(s)

If some of the employee’s comments are surprising, it’s always best to ask them for some examples. It’s also important to read between the lines, and try to get to the source of the issue. Better yet, ask the employee to try and resolve the issue themselves before providing answers to their problems.

 

Resolve the Issue(s)

One key aspect to remember is it’s not always necessary to decide if the employee is right or wrong. Perhaps try to reach a solution that the employee is happy with. According to the University of Berkley Human Resources, “looking first for needs, rather than solutions, is a powerful tool for generating a win/win option.” This couldn’t further from the truth. Once you understand the advantages of their solutions, you better know their needs and how to meet them.

 

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