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Is Your Work At Home Policy Spurring Jealousy?

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Do you let your employees work from home at least some of the time? That’s great. Dozens of studies have shown that the ability to work remotely is one of the biggest perks employees of all ages desire. But is your work at home policy inciting jealousy and resentment in the ranks?

That’s not so great. But chances are, according to a recent survey by Kona, that’s what’s happening.

Seven in 10 workers in the Kona survey say they would rather telecommute than work in the office. Among those between the ages of 35 and 44, the number is even higher at 81 percent.

But the majority of employees (57 percent) in offices that allow remote work say the policy spurs jealousy among those who don’t get to work at home.

How can you make sure working at home makes your employees more productive, not more resentful?

Your Work at Home Policy

Set a Work At Home Policy

You should write a work at home policy as part of your employee manual. Every employee should read and acknowledge it.

The work at home policy should cover issues such as hours to be worked per day or week, how the person will protect the business’s confidential information, liability issues, what equipment will be provided and how the employee will be monitored when working at home.

Be Sure Your Policy Can’t be Construed as Discriminatory

Clearly, not all jobs can be done at home. For instance, your accounting clerk might be able to work from home, while your retail sales clerk can’t. What’s important is that you treat all employees in the same job classification or with the same duties the same when it comes to working at home.

If you let one accounting clerk work from home because she has children and don’t allow a childless accounting clerk to do the same, you could be at risk of a lawsuit. And you’re likely causing gossip and resentment.

The only reason to treat employees in the same job differently is if one has a legitimate reason for needing to work at home that is not discriminatory. For instance, if one worker has a disability that requires working from home. As you can see, this area can be tricky, so it’s best to consult an attorney to review your work at home policy.

Communicate Clearly

Communication is key for businesses with virtual workers. When employees who work in the office feel they can never reach the work at home staff, or don’t understand why certain people are working at home, resentment grows.

Everyone on your team should know the expectations for work at home employees, including what hours they are supposed to be available, multiple ways to reach them (email, phone, IM, etc.) and what tasks they are working on.

Emphasize to work at home employees the importance of keeping a high profile so others on the team see that they’re working.

Monitor Work At Home Employees

There are many ways to do this, from having them check in with status reports every few hours to using time-tracking software like Toggl to using software that monitorswhat they’re doing on their computers.

Assess Results

Resentment occurs when employees feel that others are taking advantage of your work at home policy. To ensure employees aren’t abusing the privilege of working at home, it’s crucial to regularly review their productivity, progress and results. This can be done differently depending on the job and the person, but you might want to set daily or weekly goals or quotas.

Check in with remote employees quarterly or even monthly to make sure that everything is still working out. Remind workers that telecommuting is a privilege that must be earned, not a right, and you’ll get better results.

Reserve the Right to End the Work At Home Policy

Speaking of privileges, your work at home policy should state that you have the right to forbid telecommuting at any time. Otherwise, you may find yourself in legal hot water if you want to pull a Marissa Mayer (or Tony Hsieh) and have everyone work in the office.

Address Jealousy Openly

Despite your best efforts, it’s inevitable that people will get jealous—they’re only human.

When these issues arise don’t push them aside. Be alert for resentments that are brewing. Address these issues with the person who’s expressing jealousy. You may find the root cause is something completely different than someone else working at home – and that you can nip it in the bud to create a much happier employee.

Jealous Photo via Shutterstock

 

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How To Make Your Company One Of The Best Places To Work

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Without a doubt, for a business to stay successful for the long run, it must have quality employees who work hard. When a company does not strive to keep the best employees, the business will in time, fail. Now, many businesses, in a bid to save money, do not heed this advice and the company suffers tremendously. Fortunately, when following these five tips, a company can make their organization one of the best places in their industry to work.

Open door policy with management: Now, in many large, old, companies, one cannot directly approach upper management without going through a lot of hoops. This can be detrimental to the relationship between people in the business and make people hate coming to work. To encourage the sharing of ideas and plans, a company must foster an open door policy for all employees. With this strategy, workers will love coming to the office, and the company can increase profitability by sharing and coming up with new strategies and ideas for the business.

Training and education: When most people land a job, they do not expect to stay at the same place for four decades. In the past this was the case, but now, people like to move across the country and even across the globe to find new work. Retaining top employees is a big concern for businesses and one way to do it is to offer plenty of resources for training. When employees can learn new skills and obtain more education, they will enjoy their work environment and likely stay longer. Furthermore, when an employee receives more education, he or she will be a valuable asset to the company. In fact, when landing a job after college, many do not care about their salary as much as they do about their future schooling opportunities.

Work remotely: Being able to work remotely can be a great perk for many employees. Now, when allowing workers to complete tasks from home or other locations, a company must set some rules. However, when one follows all the rules, the company can improve relations with the worker and get the same finished product. Remember, there are plenty of people who want to spend more time with their families or work from home some days so they can skip the commute. When managed well, an employee will work just as hard and will love their job, although Yahoo and Best Buy might disagree.

Benefits: When looking at job opportunities, many realize how important it is to have solid benefits more than having a high salary. When a company offers a nice 401k and plenty of sick and vacation days, they will likely come to work with energy and feeling happy. Furthermore, a smart and savvy entrepreneur should provide full health benefits to all employees as they will appreciate the gesture and will not head to another company to obtain healthcare. Remember, with solid benefits, a worker may be willing to accept a much lower wage when he or she loves the company they work with.

Promoting Within: When an organization passes up on current staff members and looks for outsiders to fill positions, the employees are likely to get upset and may head to the competition. For this reason, a smart company should always try to promote talent from within. By holding an internal job fair or having a job board, the company can keep talent and fill positions that would otherwise be difficult to fill. With this method of promotion, the company will save a lot of time and money and will get more out of their current employees who want to work hard and rise to the top.

When taking the time to hire the right employees, a business will succeed. Without a doubt, when looking at the top companies in the United States and around the world, one will notice that they all hire and retain the top talent in their fields. Remember, a company is only as good is its employees.

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Alexander J. is a writer who loves doing research on a wide variety of topics, such as business, finance and technology. Writing keeps his mind sharp and allows him to continue learning new things every day.

 

 

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7 Steps To Reducing Employee Sick Leave

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There’s really no way of completely avoiding germs – they’re everywhere, year-round. Alas, this means your employees are just as likely to fall ill in balmy summer months as they are in the bleak midwinter. Fortunately, conscientious employers out there can do their bit to help by implementing strategies to boost employee health and fitness, thereby heading off any pesky illnesses at the pass. Here’s what you as an employer should do to cut down on employee sickness…

Light & Green

As unlikely as it may sound, introducing more greenery around the workplace can have a positive effect on employee mood, productivity, and health. Sourcing office plants can be cheaply and easily done and will certainly brighten up the workplace – plus, studies have demonstrated that proximity to nature increases alertness and well-being. Likewise, exposure to natural sunlight has equally positive effects, so an office layout that allows for lots of natural light is beneficial, too.  It’s really the little things that make a difference.

Healthy Snacks

Office vending machines tend to offer easy access to fizzy drinks and sugar-laden sweets, the consumption of which results in sugar bursts that eventually leave employees tired and possibly moody. Try to offer healthy alternatives like fresh fruit, peanuts, and suchlike – whether in your company cafeteria or simply in the kitchen or break rooms.

Provide Health Incentives

If your employees bike to work, offer them incentives in the form of subsidies or through the provision of secure bike parking and other useful facilities. You could even take this a step further and encourage energy-saving practices like carpooling, using public transport, or walking to work.

Encourage Exercise

If your company doesn’t already have gym facilities, why not strike up a deal with nearby gyms and negotiate discounts for employees who choose to work out there? People are more likely to head to a gym that’s close by their work or home, since it makes travelling easier. A quick workout in the morning leaves employees energised and ready to tackle the tasks ahead, and even if they go after work an overall increase in health reduces the likelihood of falling ill.

Stay Clean

Encourage employees to wash their hands, dispose of used tissues, and be as hygienic as possible in using bathroom and kitchen facilities. In a place where many people spend all day indoors together, breathing the same air, drinking out of the same mugs and touching the same door handles, germs can spread super fast. The cost of employee sick leave is a major expense for businesses, so forking out for better cleaning services can save you money overall.

Options For Sick Leave

Ensure that in the event your employees do fall ill, they’re aware of what they’re entitled to in terms of sick pay and leave. This isn’t possible in all industries, but to prevent employees from coming into work even when they’re sick and could infect co-workers, you could come up with a system that, for example, allows employees to work from home for reduced pay while they’re still contagious but able to remain at least somewhat productive. That way, any urgent work can still get done on time without the expense of other employees’ health.

Step In

If an employee is stressed, struggling to stay on top of things, and constantly working long hours, it may be necessary to take him or her aside and talk through things. This is especially true when it comes to new hires or recent in-house promotions, who may be finding it difficult to adjust. If possible, help them come up with solutions to manage their work more effectively, remind them of the relevant people they can ask for help, and if they’ve been unfairly loaded down with work, try and redistribute assignments so that the work isn’t getting done at the detriment of one person’s health. It’s not always possible to keep an eye on these things, but generally taking the time to check up on employees can mean that stressful situations are easily and efficiently sorted out. Oh, and did I mention stress increases your chances of falling ill?

Got any other tips for reducing ill-health in the workplace? Share them in the comments!

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James Duval is the business and tech editor at GKBCInc.

 

 

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Getting Respect Working From Home

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How often have you been working at your home office, when your brother calls you wanting to chat, or a friendly neighbour comes over to ask you for some help? You’re working at home, but everyone seems to think that your work involves sitting around the home doing nothing all day but answer some emails or occasionally talking on the phone.

What can you do to stop these distractions so you can work, and even get some respect for your home business?

Set a Schedule at Home

If you have regular working hours, you can post them on your office door, inform your family and friends, and if anyone comes over to chat during your scheduled work time, you can politely ask them to leave. This schedule will help people realize you are working, and make your business look more professional.

Even better having these regular working hours will help you be more productive if used properly. By focusing on your work at a regular time everyday, you train your mind and body to go into working mode. If you you plan your work hours when you have the most energy, it’s even better.

Remember that this doesn’t have to be a 9-5 work schedule, play around with it at first to find out what hours are best for you, and then stick to it.

Dress for Success

Since the inevitable stereotype of working from home is a person working in his or her pyjamas, try to break the image by wearing comfortable business casual clothes.

You want to be comfortable while you work, but wearing clothes that are too casual, will make you appear less serious, and can make you feel a bit too relaxed to work at your peak efficiency. By wearing business casual, you keep the comfort, but if a neighbour, client, or family member drops by they’ll see that you are treating your work professionally and it gives you an advantage. If they see you wearing old jeans and a sweatshirt or worse actual pyjamas, it will be very hard to convince them that you are working.

Learn to Say No

Sometimes people don’t take a hint, you can tell them that you’re working, print up a super-sized schedule for your door, explain that you’re about to talk to an important client, but they still want to talk.
In this case, you have to firmly tell them that you do not have time to talk, go out for coffee or even let them in your front door. Try to be polite but firm when you do so, don’t tell them you don’t want to talk, simply say you are working but can talk to them when you are done. Give them your schedule and explain that between certain hours you are unavailable, but you’d be happy to talk after work.

Your at home business is important, and people need to realize that working from home actually involves working. So treat your job like a regular job and insist others follow suit, even if they disagree with you.

Dan Clarke is a business coach, specializing in helping people who work at home expand their business, solve problems and find a great work/life balance. Find out more about him at his website, Be Happy Working at Home.

 

 

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Workplace Flexibility: An Interesting HR Concept

business_meeting_2The world around us has changed so much that some of the things we see nowadays are things we would never have imagined. Workplace flexibility is a concept which if well nurtured will transform the world of human resource.

The whole idea behind the concept is to have some elasticity when it comes to when, where and how work is done. It affords the employee convenience to work at times when they are comfortable and from places where they feel comfortable. At the end of the day, tasks are completed and work is still done. A few HR personnel argue that work is done more efficiently because people work in a more relaxed environment.

What is Workplace flexibility?

It is basically an arrangement between an employee and employer where they agree to have some elasticity in terms of how, when and where work is done, provided that the objectives of the company are met. It should afford the employees some convenience, but at the end of the day they have to do all that is required of them, so as to meet all their obligations to the employer.

Possible ways in which the flexibility comes in

1.      How work is done

There are a number of options here. For example, when it comes to hourly jobs, the employer and the employee can agree to use a monthly or annual hours instead of the traditional weekly hours. This way an employee can take a 3 month holiday provided he gives the employer high quality hours as agreed. People are also at liberty to share one job, depending on the arrangement. One can work from Monday to Wednesday while the other works for the rest of the week.

2.      Where people work

The conventional style of working involves people waking up every day to go to work. Workplace flexibility allows employees to work remotely or from home. How it is effected is highly variable, but there should be an agreement on how many days an employee works at home, as well as how regularly it should be done. Working remotely allows the employee to work in a client’s workplace or from an office that is not his or her main workplace.

3.      When people work

Here, the human resource manager and the employee agree on the time when work is done. For example, if the employee has to work for 8 hours a day, then they could agree that the employee starts his day whenever he is comfortable as long as he is loyal to the dedicated hours. Thus an employee can come to work at 6:00 am and leave at 2:00 pm. He can come to work at 8:00 am and leave at 5:00 pm. Other forms of flexibility on when to work include part time working, part year and variable year employment arrangements. To further illustrate this, workers can put in more hours during peak seasons and less hours during off-peak seasons when there is less work. The amount of leave days can also be altered so as to suit the needs of employees.

Are there pitfalls?

For the arrangement to work, the employee must be very loyal so as to honor the arrangement. It therefore means it might be risky to have such an arrangement with an employee who you have not worked with before. Some employees will fail to honor their part of the bargain, which slows you down.

Sometimes, you need to have an employee around, who you can call upon to tackle emergency situations. This arrangement might not work in this aspect, more so because the employees might be away from the workplace at a time when you need them.

It is quite difficult to promote teamwork with this kind of understanding. Employers’ give up their control over employees, which makes it very difficult to assign an employee tasks which require him or her to work directly with others. Some online software however overcomes this problem by allowing people to interact and have conferences through these platforms.

All in all, it is a good concept. As long as both the employee and the employer agree on how to go about it, is something that should be embraced by human resource departments.

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Sarah Filer has teamed up with Breathe HR to offer HR advice, Sarah has been in the HR industry for 3 years and Breathe HR is a cloud based HR management system.

 

 

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Smarter Ways Of Working

cold-calling-skills1Rising fuel prices, leaves on the line, crowded carriages and traffic jams – just a few of the things which can make the commute into work every day a complete nightmare. That’s even forgetting the added complications of flooding and the way the road network grinds to a halt when it snows. Most of us see a lengthy journey into work as a necessary evil and it’s hard to see any way of making the commute easier or cheaper. But there are some things which can be considered to make life better.

Working at Home

Not all employers are happy with the idea of staff working at home instead of in the office, so whether or not this will be appropriate will depend very much on what market sector your employer operates in. If you are primarily dealing with customers on the phone or by email and can just as easily work from the spare room or dining table as you can from the office, then there is no harm in asking your employer whether you can work at home for part of the week. Being at home will save you in terms of both time and money.

Flexible Working

If working at home isn’t an option, perhaps your employer would consider flexible working. Many employers are happy to allow employees to work their 37.5 hours a week over 4 days rather than 5, or to arrive early and leave early to beat the traffic. If you are thinking about approaching your employer about working flexibly, make sure you gather all the evidence to support your claim that you will be able to work as efficiently and get the work done in exactly the same way.

Season Tickets

If you have a regular commute by train into work, it is far cheaper to buy a season ticket than it is to pay the standard fare each day. Finding the money for a six month or year-long ticket is the main obstacle to doing this and many employers offer unsecured loans to help their staff meet the cost. Even if your employer does not offer this scheme, it can be worth approaching another lender for an unsecured loan as even with interest payments taken into account, you are still quid’s in.

Car sharing

One great way of cutting the cost of getting to work as well as lessening your carbon footprint is to share a lift with someone else travelling the same route. Many companies help put employees in touch with each other, and there are also several independent websites which will help arrange lifts too. The arrangements are generally left up to the individuals concerned, but a common arrangement is to pay the driver a set amount per mile, or to take it in turns to drive. Some forward thinking companies will even give drivers who car share a preferential parking space or other perks.

Cycling

Again it’s not for everyone, but if your commute into work is relatively short, going by bike could save you a fortune, be just as quick and could also help keep you fit too. Many employers are encouraging their employees to get on their bikes by offering cheap finance or unsecured loans to buy a bike, and by providing facilities such as lockers and showers on site. Buying a new bike doesn’t have to mean a huge investment, but when taking out an unsecured loan ensure that you factor in other expenses such as lights, a helmet and reflective clothing too. Given the levels of traffic on many city roads, cyclists often find that their commute is far quicker than colleagues who drive too.

Katie Latchford is a freelance writer who is constantly researching the latest financial advances in areas such as unsecured loans, credit cards, family finance and consumer rights. For more information, follow her on Google plus.

 

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It’s Not All About the Money: How to Retain Great Employees

You have a terrific staff, a team that you feel can get your company to the next level. So how can you keep those employees within the fold?  You would think that money is enough to keep a staffer happy, but actually, money is just one of the issues employees consider when it comes to whether to leave a company. Here are some things you can do to keep your staff happy – and employed with your business:

Make staff feel empowered and important

People want to feel like they’re making a difference, and that what they have to say matters. If you never take your employees’ suggestions into account, if you micromanage them at every turn, if you force square pegs into round holes, your staff may leave as soon as they have a better opportunity. So whenever and wherever you think it makes sense, why not listen to what your staffers have to say, and empower them to make decisions?

Allow your staff to grow and learn

Back in the 1990s, many of the first people to lead their office into the internet age were not trained computer experts, but employees from all walks of life who had an interest in learning about the web, and helping their company move forward on the internet. These days , there surely are some things that your staff is interested in learning more about, and by doing so, they could move your company forward into the future. Encourage them to learn and grow, and your company could grow as well.

Keep the office on an even keel

You may be a great manager, but upper management may be making things seem mercurial and rocky. The more you can do to protect your staff from interference and office mood swings, the better. Stuff rolls downhill, but try to stop it from going any further downhill.

Offer better benefits

You should compensate your employees as much as you can, within reason, but money is just part of the equation. Things that can make your staff happy as well include health care, dental care, tuition reimbursement, and gym memberships. Of course, you may not be in a position to decide on compensation, but there are other things you can do to make employees happy. For example, when you get freebies from clients, like primo sporting events tickets, why not share them with your staff instead of hoarding them for yourself?  You want your staffers to feel that they have it good at your company.

Give your employees leave time and hours that work for them

Be flexible with work hours, including allowing flextime, work-at-home hours, and vacation time. Some companies are allowing unlimited vacation time, as long as the work is done. You don’t need to go that far, but working with your staff to make sure that you have great production, but they get to enjoy their personal lives as well, can help keep them happy.

Have an attitude of gratitude

If you let your valued staffers know that they are appreciated, and continually show your respect and approval for them, they may be much less likely to want to go elsewhere. But even if they do need to move on, still show how grateful you are to them. Who knows? They may come back one day.

Lisa Swan writes on a variety of coaching issues at MeredithHaberfeld.com.

 

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