Tag Archives: Morale

The Latest and Greatest about Jobs

Let’s face it, the economy isn’t turned around yet.  Things are still pretty sluggish and a lot of people are still applying for jobs by the hundreds with nothing to show for it.

When in a job search and applying for jobs, people always say things like “stay positive” and “keep your chin up.”  Easier said than done.

Actually, it is easier when there is good news about jobs and the economy and recently there has been some good news that will help any job applicant “stay positive” and “keep their chin up.”

The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January, according to a Labor Department report.

The unemployment rate was 7.9% in January, and 12.3 million people were counted as unemployed. Overall, hiring is keeping pace with population growth, but the Labor Department noted that the unemployment rate has barely changed since September.

Economists surveyed by CNNMoney are expecting job growth to continue in 2013 at roughly the same pace as last year, when the economy added 2.2 million jobs. They predict the unemployment rate will end the year slightly down, at 7.5%.

Construction hiring could be one of the highlights this year. It was the single hardest hit sector in the recession but has recently shown some signs of life. In January, construction firms added 28,000 jobs, reflecting a stronger housing market and rebuilding efforts after Superstorm Sandy.

Construction alone could account for roughly a quarter of all the jobs added in 2013.

Check the unemployment rate in your state

In January, health care continued to be a strong sector for job growth, adding 23,000 jobs. Most of those jobs were in ambulatory health care services, a category that includes doctors’ offices and outpatient care centers.

Retail added 33,000 jobs, with about a third of those gains at clothing stores.

Manufacturers added about 4,000 jobs, but the Labor Department noted that employment in this sector has changed little since July.

The Labor Department also released revisions to its 2012 data, showing the economy added 335,000 more jobs during the year than originally reported.

Overall, the U.S. economy lost 8.8 million jobs in the financial crisis, and is still down about 3.2 million jobs from the labor market’s height in January 2008.

Despite jobs not being added at rapid rates, things are slowly headed in the right direction.  So, not to sound cliche, but here’s a little advice: stay positive and keep your chin up.

Cough, Sneeze, Cough and Repeat

Reports are out stating that this is one of the worst flu seasons on record.  There have been many deaths and hospitalizations from this year’s flu bug.

When running a business, it’s hard when key employees, or any employee for that matter, calls in sick.

As a business owner or manager, it is your job to communicate to your employees the importance of not spreading illness around at work.  A sick employee is not a productive employee.  Most often it’s best for them to get back on their “A” game faster by healing at home.

Here are a few tips you can give your employees about staying home:

1.  Call in Early.  If you’re feeling sick, call or send a text the night before.  That way, plans can be made to cover for you and to share the responsibilities around the office.

2.  Offer to Telecommute.  Oftentimes workers come in to work because of a pressing meeting, a deadline or other important matter.  Give your employees an option of telecommuting while they are sick.  Invest in the software that makes this possible…it will be an investment that will pay off.

3.  Delegate.  You know your job better than anyone else.  If you have a serious illness that will have you missing work for a few days, delegate it to someone who can help.  A good manager or owner will always have employees be dual-trained on things so one can pick up where the other left off.

WebMD.com recommends that employees who exhibit any of the following symptoms should stay home from work and not infect anyone else:

Flu Signs:  fever, muscle aches, headache, runny nose, sore throat, cough, weakness and fatigue.

Sinus Infection:  yellow or green discharge from the nose, headaches, aching in jaw and teeth.

Pinkeye:  everyone knows what this is – it’s highly contagious – stay home!

Colds:  scratchy throat, sneezing, runny nose and coughing.

All of these things are highly contagious and care should be taken not to “share the love” around the office.

If employees know they are cared about, especially when ill, their morale will be much higher and they will have incentive to get healthy and back to work more quickly than if they feel resented for being ill.

A Respectful and Racially Diverse Workplace

Since today is the day we remember and reflect on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, it is appropriate to discuss race and respect in the workplace.

Many American neighborhoods, public schools and churches are still overwhelmingly segregated.  The workplace remains one of the few places where those from diverse backgrounds routinely interact. Because Americans from different ethnic groups still have a lot to learn about one another, however, the workplace is often the site of racially offensive behavior.

Sometimes colleagues unintentionally make racial gaffes, and other times prejudice is to blame for their bad behavior at work. It’s in every employee’s interest to avoid culturally inappropriate behaviors in the workplace.

If you can’t say anything nice…

It seems obvious that racial slurs should be a no-no at work, but an employee of African-American descent was stunned recently when a white coworker referred to an Arab-American coworker as a “towelhead.” Apparently, the woman figured that the African-American wouldn’t be offended that she used the term because she isn’t from the Middle East.

That turned out not to be true, a mistake that could have cost the woman her job.

Don’t use race to describe

If you can’t recall a coworker’s name, it’s not appropriate to refer to her as “that Asian lady in sales” or “that black chick in operations.”  If your workplace is predominantly white, think about what you would do to describe a white colleague whose name you don’t know. You might describe what he’s wearing or his height and build.

Try using these same strategies to describe your colleagues of color. Then, “that Asian lady in sales” becomes “the tall woman in the red blazer.”  By taking a few seconds longer to describe someone, you can avoid giving colleagues the impression that their race is first on your mind.

Make assignments based on skill sets, not race

You’re a manager of a company whose new set of clients is Mexican American. Naturally, you assign the Latino man in your department to the case. In fact, anytime you deal with Mexican-American clients, you make sure to involve your lone Latino employee. It’s a smart way to do business, right? Not necessarily.

If there’s a language barrier—the clients speak Spanish and the Latino employee is the only one in the office who can communicate with them—this move makes sense. But to pair up employees with clients simply based on cultural background doesn’t always pay off. Employees should be paired with clients who need services in which they have a strong skill set and range of experiences.

If clients felt that uncomfortable working with those from different ethnic backgrounds, they likely would have sought out a Latino-owned company with which to do business. What’s more is that if you keep directing all of your Latino clientele to your Latino employee, he may begin to think that you only trust him to do business with his own “kind.”

There is a myriad of scenarios where racial bias could creep up.  As a manager, work diligently to treat everyone fairly and to make race a non-issue in your place of work, especially when making decisions on hiring employees and during job interviews.

In the words of Dr. King, “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance  and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

 

The above information was summarized from:

http://racerelations.about.com/od/theworkplace/a/RaciallyInappropriateBehaviorsatWork.htm

The Number One Trait in a Good Boss

You want to be the best boss.  The legendary boss that your employees talk about on facebook and inspire jealousy among all their friends.

To be the best boss, you must have the number one trait that good bosses have.

That trait is:  R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Just having the title of boss, manager, CEO, or whatever you are, doesn’t alone grant respect from your underlings.  Respect must be earned and in order to do that, you must first respect those that work for you.

Do you know your employees?  Do you care about their personal lives and their family?  When you respect a person, you know them inside and out and show care and concern for them as an individual, not just as a worker.

Another key trait of respect is to never, ever (and I mean, ever) belittle your employees.  Constructive criticism is one thing, but outright belittling and embarrassing is another.  Employees never get over being belittled.

The word belittle is defined as:  to regard or portray as less impressive or important than appearances indicate; depreciate; disparage.

Just remember that even though you are the head honcho, you don’t need to look down your nose at any employee.  If you do, it will come back to bite you.

A final note on respect.  Just because you may have a personal assistant, a six-figure income or a fancier car than your employees, don’t use these as excuses to not keep your feet on the ground.

Always remember what it feels like to work in a cubicle and go about the daily grind.

You will earn respect by rolling up your own sleeves and working right alongside your employees rather than observing your employees from a distance.

New Year, New Issues

As a business owner, you have to worry about hiring the right person, training the right person, paying the right salary and basically doing everything right, right?!

Even though you may do everything you’re supposed to, there are things that are out of your control.

This year, your employees are going to see less money each paycheck and it’s not the bosses fault.

Everyone’s paycheck is about to take a hit because the rate of workers’ payroll taxes, which fund Social Security, has been 4.2% for the past two years. As of Jan. 1, it’s back to 6.2%, on the first $113,700 in wages.

Some business owners say it’s a tough talk to have with their employees that may not understand that it’s not the bosses fault.

Mike Brey, who owns four Hobby Works shops near Washington, D.C., recently had to notify his store managers about the upcoming change during a conference call. He called the experience uncomfortable. “These are the people who can least afford it,” Brey said.

Brey said he can’t raise compensation to ease the pain. Enduring the recession meant cutting his own salary, firing workers, taking on half a million dollars in debt and raiding his own 401(k).

“Any business that survived the recession did so by digging a big hole,” Brey said. “We can’t dig any deeper.”

Payroll taxes are key for financing Social Security, and the break of the past two years has forced the government to replenish the funds with borrowed money. The tax break was always meant to be temporary.

Workers earning the national average salary of $41,000 will receive $32 less on every biweekly paycheck. The higher the salary (up to $113,700), the bigger the bite, but business owners say their lower wage employees will feel it most.

So, how can you weather this storm?

The key is education. 

As a boss, you need to sit down with your employees and explain in detail what this will mean for their paychecks, why it happened, and what it means going forward.

As captain of the ship, you will still bear the brunt of the responsibility, but that comes with the territory.

The most you can do is to educate, empathize (it affects you too!) and then move on.  If your employees do have concerns, don’t brush them off.  Sometimes every single dollar is accounted for by employees and this could cause some stress and anxiety.

If you continue to educate, train and keep those lines of communication open – your business, and more importantly, your employees, will weather the storm.

The Annual Review

Many employees look forward to their annual review for one simple reason:  it is a natural vehicle for them to get a raise.

Since the economy has been in a downturn, many employers have actually cancelled annual reviews so they don’t have to pay their employees more and also to avoid any natural discussion of pay increases.

This is not a good practice for many reasons.

First, besides the money issues, the annual review is a key time to give much needed feedback to employees.

If there are problems to be addressed or constructive criticism to be given, the year-end review is a good time to discuss these awkward subjects.

Employees thrive on positive feedback as well and if it’s not given, they are left wondering if their performance is measuring up.  The old adage by Mark Twain that reads, “I could live two months on a good compliment,” is true, especially for employees.

Second, if there is no review, you are opening up the door to feelings of resentment from employees, especially if reviews have been a part of business in the past.

If you don’t have the money to give raises, then just explain that to the employee and let them decide what they should do or if they need to find another job.

Having an honest, frank discussion about the state of your business will be appreciated much more than beating around the bush and not opening up.

Finally, reviews are a crucial time to review goals and what has or has not been accomplished in the past year.  It’s a great measuring tool to see if you and your employees are on the same page, accomplishing what needs to be done and on track for the coming year.

Don’t miss out on these crucial reviews – they are beneficial for everyone and will overall improve morale and employee performance.

Gossip, Gossip Everywhere – Even at Work

A recent study that came out of the University of Amsterdam found that 90 percent of all workplace conversations consist of gossip.

That sounds a bit alarming at first.  No one likes a gossip, but the study found that sometimes gossip can be helpful at work.

A team of psychologists in the Netherlands say that gossip in the workplace can serve a purpose to warn co-workers about others who are not pulling their weight or to try to get lazier workers to pick up the pace.

Say you have a friend at work that you really like, but they spend an inordinate amount of time texting their friends, online shopping or other time wasters.  A good piece of gossip to pass along might be, “Hey, I heard the boss is really cracking down on non-work related activities and I would hate for you to get in trouble.”

That would constitute as gossip, but you’re trying to help someone out in the process.

Bianca Beersma and Professor Gerben VanKleef, co-authors of the study, said that organizations can “minimize the negative and optimize the positive consequences (of gossip).”

“Speech makes it possible for group members to warn each other against those who do not behave in accordance with the group’s norms,” they wrote in the study.

The study asked 121 university’s undergrads for their motive in gossiping. Although answers varied, some said they chose to gossip to protect a group from harmful behavior among members.

“Moral codes derived from Christian and Jewish religions condemn gossip and incorporate a number of severe punishments designed to discourage it,” the authors wrote. “Even in societies in which religion no longer plays a central role, gossip is often frowned upon and is seen as reproachable.

But is gossiping really that negative? By gossiping, one can warn group members against others who violate group norms, and it is possible that this explicit motive is a reason to instigate gossip.”

So, gossip can be a positive thing, but in order to cultivate an environment that has little to no negative gossip – that has to come from the top down.

If a manager or boss is fair, equitable and stresses that loyalty to company and to each other is a key component to the success of the business, then employees will be more willing to overlook shortcomings and be a cohesive group.

Gracias, Merci, Thank You!

No matter what language you use, saying Thank You is a simple, yet powerful way of retaining good employees and keeping morale high in your business (or personal life).

Many employees have cited that they have accepted and stayed in a job that had standard to sub-standard wages because they felt appreciated, they felt validated and they were thanked on a regular basis.

One employee was working in a job she knew was a temporary position.  The hours were extremely long, the job was high-stress and every day was grueling.  To top it off, this employee was expecting and didn’t often feel well.  On paper it didn’t seem worth it for the employee to stay.

In reality, it was one of the most rewarding jobs the employee ever had.

Why?

Because of two words:  thank you.

The employee was thanked.  Often.  And in many different ways.  Lunches out, gift certificates and just simple words of gratitude conveyed that the company couldn’t do it without her, she was valued, she was an integral part of the company and she was appreciated.

It doesn’t take much to make employees feel good.  A few simple words each day, an acknowledgement of an accomplishment or a job well done go far in keeping employees happy and content.

An employee who feels genuinely valued and appreciated would walk across hot coals for their boss and be more patient when the money is tight, the hours are long, or the job is stressful.

Start today – make a list of people you have relationships with and then write something about each person you are grateful for, and then find a way to express this gratitude – a note, some words or even a small gift.

You will find that the more you express gratitude, the easier it is for you to do this on a regular basis and improve your business and your relationships.