“The workplace has always been a fluid concept, from factories and workshops, to offices and coffee shops. This trend of a workplace being anything anywhere, according to the needs of the times, is set to continue – with the virtual office simply the next logical step.”
There are many ways to reward employees without spending a lot of money.
Today’s post is brought to you by my friends at Socialmonsters.org.
Many businesses go through lean times, but that does not mean you have to put recognition on hold. Consider the following options for rewarding employees that are beneficial for your business, budget, and staff.
If your business model supports it, offering a flexible work schedule can be a huge advantage for some employees. Announce the possibility of this reward in a quick survey of your staff to gauge interest in the program and request feedback for potential options. Some examples of a flexible schedule include four ten hour days, later or earlier shifts and working from home. If your employees show an interest in this benefit you can offer the option at little or no cost to your organization. Items for consideration include shift differential and home office setup and security.
Rewards like the new iPhone SE allow employees to do more while away from the office. This is substantially less expensive than setting up a second workspace for a work-from-home employee, but if the funds are available to allow work-from-home as an option, the iPhone SE could greatly compliment that model.
Present rewards for great performance during quarterly all-associate or team meetings. Recognition is great, but it can have a larger impact and also serve as motivation for other employees when given publicly. Leave a candy gift with a play on words like Extra gum (Thanks for going the “Extra” mile), Lifesavers, and coffee drinks “Thanks “a latte” and the rewarded associate names listed on a sign of top ten performing employees. Post this in a meeting or break room space. Pinterest is a great resource to search for low-cost employee recognition ideas like these, but make sure you are aware of any allergies or diet restrictions beforehand or it could fall flat and even backfire if it highlights a lack of personal knowledge about the recipient.
Health and Wellness
Speak with local gyms and fitness studios to see if they will provide a discount or even a few free classes for employees. More companies are offering daycare at their facility, but this requires extra space and a willingness to cover the added insurance and other regulations required for this option. An economical alternative would be to work out a discount with an established daycare near your offices and promote the daycare provider in your facility.
Consider providing free healthy snacks like fruit, salad kits, and whole grain cereals or PowerBars in your break room to encourage healthy eating and remove the need to leave the office. Finally, have employees put lists together of their favorite healthy apps to download on their smartphones, and help them keep track of weight loss, quit smoking or start exercising. Reward associates by allowing them work time or covering one of the employee’s duties, so they can compile this list and then present their findings at your next meeting.
Many businesses go through lean times, but that does not mean you have to put recognition on hold. Consider options for rewarding employees that are beneficial for your business, budget, and staff.
These options reward good work by your staff, save your company money and increase business in your organization’s community, so everyone is rewarded.
As we just passed the weekend where daylight savings time came back I thought some facts about the importance of sleep on performance were in order. I have struggled the last couple of days, staying up later, mostly because my biological clock had not readjusted. I have written some similar posts in the past, see in particular Three Work Reasons to get a Good Night’s Sleep.
The average American adult, while spending 7.5 hours in bed only gets 6.1 hours of sleep. If you are anything like me, you toss and turn, you think about work or you get up and take the trip to the bathroom.
Lack of sleep causes performance problems.
Doctors with less than six hours of sleep between procedures produce twice the number of surgical complications.
Pilots nod off an average of 22 times in the last 30 minutes of a flight last four hours or more if they have not had a nap.
Medical interns working a 30-hour shift every third night make 36% more medical errors
Lack of sleep has a major effect on your health
Sleeping just 6 hours per night increases your risk of being overweight by 27%
Sleeping just 5 hours increases your risk of being overweight by a whopping 73%!
When you lack sleep you may as well have been drinking
Skipping 1.5 hours of sleep gives you a cognitive impairment equivalent to a blood-alcohol level of .05%.
Being awake 24 hours is the equivalent of a blood-alcohol level of .10%
Drowsy driving is responsible for 20% of vehicle crashes that result in a half million injuries and 8000 deaths.
These are some pretty sobering figures. Employees who work long hours, have to commute home, have to be involved with their families and then get in bed late are a hazard to others and a drain on your company productivity.
I am a big believer in the value of naps. I have written about naps here and here. It is a well-documented fact that naps increase productivity and alertness. Here are some additional facts about naps:
A 20-minute nap taken 8 hours after you awake will boost your stamina more than sleeping an extra 20 minutes in the morning
That 20-minute nap is more effective than 200 mg of caffeine
A nap three times a week lowers the chance of a heart-related death by 37%
Those are some pretty compelling numbers in favor of naps.
Try to do what you can to get readjusted. I for one decided to take the first Monday after daylight savings time return. It helped a lot.
The US Department of Labor is trying to become a much friendlier agency when dealing with employers, really they are. They have reinstituted opinion letters, where employers can reach out to the USDOL and get information about a situation, that handled incorrectly could result in a lawsuit. These opinion letters can then act as guidance for other employers to help them avoid making similar mistakes. Additionally, Secretary Acosta has announced a program called PAID that will allow employers to voluntarily report unintentional wage and hour violations. By doing so voluntarily, the employer, while having to pay the back wages, will avoid penalties, assessments and lawyer fees. Sounds like a winning program doesn’t it? Or does it? That may depend on how much you trust the government.
The PAID program provides a framework for proactive resolution of potential overtime and minimum wage violations under the FLSA. The program’s primary objectives are to resolve such claims expeditiously and without litigation, to improve employers’ compliance with overtime and minimum wage obligations, and to ensure that more employees receive the back wages they are owed—faster.
The incentive for the employer to engage in this is:
This program enables employers to expeditiously resolve inadvertent minimum wage and overtime violations without litigation. Additionally, although WHD will require payment of all back wages due, WHD will not require additional payment of liquidated damages or civil monetary penalties when employers choose to participate in the program and proactively work with WHD to fix and resolve the compensation practices at issue.
However, according to Baron and DeLarco, the following considerations should be made by employers:
First, what effect, if any, will an employer’s participation in PAID have on potential claims under applicable state and local law, even if a settlement is reached?
Second, will employees apprised of potential violations by WHD be inclined to accept a settlement agreement that does not include liquidated damages or interest?
Third, is there anything preventing such employees from using the information gleaned from a self-reporting employer to file a lawsuit?
Fourth, will the information and data employers provide to the WHD be discoverable and deemed an admission in future lawsuits, especially by employees who choose not to participate?
Finally, it is not clear whether and to what extent WHD will examine a self-reporting employer’s records for violations in addition to what is self-reported, and whether employers should open themselves up to that scrutiny.
Both them say that the consideration of these questions may have a “chilling” effect on employers using this program. For employees, would the bigger question be whether they want their back pay quickly, or do they want to roll the dice and take a chance of getting more money as a result of a lawsuit, just much, much later? Employers may have to assess that likelihood before proceeding. That may change my initial question from how much do you trust the government to how much do you trust your employees?
Is your workplace so toxic that it is driving you off? Read this for solutions.
I was sitting around the having a conversation with friends the other day about workplaces and the “office politics” that often soured people’s view of the workplace. I found that it is not only businesses that have this problem. One of my friends, an ex-pastor, said that the church he was associated with was so toxic it drove both him and the minister from the church. I remembered back to my days in academia and recalled the backbiting, alliances, and just plain meanspiritedness I experienced. So one else had their business examples. We all agreed that this kind of culture can be depressing, if not downright debilitating. Following this conversation, I received in my email a tip from the Harvard Business Review on just this subject.
Joseph Grenny, a four-time New York Times bestselling author, keynote speaker, and leading social scientist for business performance wrote in the HBR and article called Yes You Can Make Office Politics Less Toxic. His article was then summarized in the Management Tip of the Day that I received in my email. I am quoting from that tip. It said:
If you want to stop the backroom dealing and posturing in your organization, commit to being transparent in all of your interactions. Think about the larger motives behind your actions, and consider the message your behavior is conveying. Are you showing people that you care most about your ego, reputation, and position? Or that you’re focused on what’s best for the organization and your colleagues? If you’ve been acting in a way that you’re not proud of, say so, and change your ways. Going forward, be explicit about your intentions — explain why you’re calling a meeting, raising a sensitive issue, or disagreeing with a colleague. Don’t force others to read between the lines, which can lead to misinterpretation and gossip. Be open about your motives. You can’t expect an organization to operate at a higher moral level than the one you hold yourself to.
Toxicity thrives on secrecy according to Grenny. Secrecy can be abolished by transparency. If you are having issues with toxicity in your workplace, read Grenny’s article and see if there is something you can institute in your workplace that will help rid the organization of that toxicity, be it a business, a nonprofit, an academic program, or a church.
These are just some of the habits that can make you an effective futurist.
Yesterday I wrote about the work habits of a genius. Today I want to expose you to the work habits of a futurist. Why you ask? I want you to think like a futurist, at least to be aware of things that will have an impact on you, your job, and your company. The futurist I refer to is Richard Watson. He was profiled in an article in Quartz by writer Ephrat Livini. He is an interesting person, but I don’t necessarily agree with all of his habits. I will, however, tell you about the ones from which I think you can learn.
Practice selective ignorance
In today’s world, it is very easy to get overwhelmed by the massive amount of available in today’s world. Afterall, 2.5 exabytes are produced every day. That is the equivalent of 250,000 Libraries of Congress, every day! You would not be able to get through one Library of Congress in a single lifetime. Pick quality over quantity and try to move from breadth and depth in areas that are important to you.
Burst the bubble
Just like we perform random acts of kindness to improve the world we should practice random acts of interest. Pick up a magazine or book or strike up a conversation with a stranger. As Livini says “These random acts of interest in strangers and unusual communications break your information consumption routines and expose you to unique insights.”
Find the tall poppies
Back in 2010, I wrote Performance & Recognition: Does Your Unspoken Culture Weed Out the Flowers? where I described the phenomenon of people trying not to stand out in society because they get taken down by other members. Watson, however, wants you to look for these “tall poppies” because these people provide us with “a network of curious and remarkable people who are hungry for interesting information and can guide our thinking.”
Carve out designated reading time
Bill Gates reads all the time but he also takes an annual “think week” each year. This reading fuels innovative thinking throughout the year. You can do something similar.
“Learn how to look and listen deeply. Stop talking. Start listening. Be curious all the time.” This is not a far cry from what Walter Isaacson said that Leonardo da Vinci did. Silence allows you to be an observer, and observation can reveal many things to you if you allow yourself time to see and listen.
Watson suggestsiInstead of focusing on what everyone is already talking about, hunt down unusual knowledge. This is the arena that may produce innovative ideas and relevant foresight.
Fair warning. This post has nothing to do with HR. It is all about personal improvement. I just finished reading Walter Isaacson’s biography, Leonardo Da Vinci. This is a well-written book about a fascinating man. I knew he was a master and was considered a genius both in his time and especially in the present view. He was also a man with flaws. He was a notorious procrastinator, perhaps due to his perfectionism. His interests were so varied he had a hard time carrying through on tasks, yet he could look at a painting for hours and then only complete one brush stroke. He was a renowned painter who at times hated painting. He enjoyed partying and, in fact, made a name for himself initially as a designer of parties and pageants. At the end of the book, Isaacson has a concluding section called Learning from Leonardo. I have selected a few of these lessons that I think everyone could apply to improve themselves.
Be curious, relentlessly curious
I consider myself to be a pretty curious person, that is why I read as widely as I do and watch the science shows, animal shows, and other such fare on television. I don’t think I could hold a candle to da Vinci. I have to admit I have never wondered about how a woodpecker’s tongue works. Isaacson says “Being relentlessly and randomly curious about everything around us is something that each of us can push ourselves to do, every waking hour, just as he did.” I think the lesson in this is that curiosity can expand your mind and the possibilities you can encounter as a result.
Seek knowledge for its own sake
Isaacson said that da Vinci demonstrates that not all knowledge needs to be useful. Sometimes there is value in just knowing. My wife occasionally says to me “How did you know that?” and that to me is the value in knowing that. Being driven by curiosity allowed Leonardo to explore more horizons and see more connections than anyone else in his era.
Don’t just look at things. Really see them. Leonardo had an acute ability to observe things. He worked at it. Leonardo when he looked at a bird paid attention to how the wings flapped. When water was flowing he paid attention to how eddies formed. When walking down the street he noticed the expressions on faces and tried to identify the emotions attached to them. How many times have you walked through your office and paid attention to the looks on people’s faces?
Start with the details
Leonardo always had a notebook with him, where he made notes and made drawings about what he saw. These notebooks have become some of the most valuable artifacts from da Vinci’s time. Bill gates bought one called the Codex Leicester, for $30.8 million in 1994. Don’t you wish your notebooks could bring that much? I try to carry a notebook, but often fail to use it properly to record the kinds of observations on life or my thoughts. When I have I have found them to be valuable insights. Some people are incredible at keeping these kinds of notebooks, others are not, and some of us are somewhere in the middle. All of us could probably improve by doing so. As an old Chinses proverb says, the palest ink is better than the best memory.
Isaacson says “Leonardo was a forerunner of the age of observational experiments and critical thinking.” In this day and age where it is easy to be exposed to “fake news,” we have to be diligent in testing our knowledge and be willing to abandon our ideas and theories if they are found to be false. As Isaacson says “If we want to be more like Leonardo, we have to be fearless about changing our minds based on new information.”
Leonardo was very much a procrastinator. Did you know he never gave the Mona Lisa to the woman or her family? He was never done with it. I too procrastinate on things. I, unfortunately, do not have the genius of da Vinci, I just have the habit. Leonardo once told a duke that ideas and intuitions need to marinate for them to gel. He said, “Men of lofty genius sometimes accomplish the most when they work the least.” I do find it helpful to walk away from projects or writing and mull things over before I return to them. Perhaps we would all benefit from such a habit. Perhaps bosses would get better work if they allowed employees to engage in this habit.
Isaacson has written about da Vinci and Steve Jobs. He said Jobs would use a slide that showed a picture of a sign at the crossroad of liberal arts and technology because he knew that creativity lay at such a crossroads. Leonardo also found that creativity at the crossroads of art, science, engineering, and humanities. In an age when we are wondering how to fend off robots from taking our jobs, perhaps we would be better off if we remembered this.
Unlike the stereotypical picture of the genius artist, such as with Michelangelo, da Vinci was not a tortured loner. To the contrary, he loved groups and parties. He worked in workshops that featured a lot of collaboration and later ran his studio in such a manner. One of the challenges of trying to determine if a piece of newly discovered art is a da Vinci or not is determining if he had a hand in creating it, or was just teaching someone. As Isaacson says, “Genius starts with individual brilliance. It requires singular vision. Ut executing it often entails working with other. Innovation is a team sport. Creativity is a collaborative endeavor.” Don’t eschew working with others just because you are the one that came up with the idea.
There are many other practices that Leonardo engaged in that I will not mention here. I do encourage you to think about your personal practices and see what you might be able to improve. Read Isaacson’s excellent book and learn how you too can improve following the example of a genius.
Three HR lessons to educate you in the middle of the week.
When you write five times a week like I do, you become grateful that other write great material that I can point out to you. Today is one of those days where I want to make you aware of some informative and thought=provoking lessons.
First up is Todd Lebowitz who warns us that even though there is a “new” Department of Labor, that has not made all the existing regulations go away. In DESPITE NEW DOL, INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR MISCLASSIFICATION AND JOINT EMPLOYMENT REMAIN RISKY, Todd reminds us that the FLSA is very much still in force. You still have to classify people correctly. You still cannot call someone an independent contractor just because it is convenient to do so. You still have to pay people overtime. Yes, some Obama-era memos may have been withdrawn, but that has not changed the substance of the law. So read this and pay attention.
Second up is Wade Burgess, who helps us understand the Gig Economy better. In Mythbusting the Gig Economy Burgess debunks three myths associated with the gig economy. These include: the gig economy is only a refuge for the unemployed; the gig economy is not sophisticated enough for big companies; and, being a winner is all about having the most employees. Now, to be transparent, Burgess is the chief executive officer of Shiftgig, the leading mobile platform that connects businesses with reliable, high-quality workers on demand, so he has a vested interest in the gig economy. That, however, does not nullify the points he makes. It is a good, and short, read.
Third up is Tim Sackett. He makes a point about text messaging, which I talk about to every class I teach. He wonders why text messaging isn’t a more ubiquitous tool in the recruiting world. I wonder why it is not more ubiquitous in the world of HR. Read Tim’s argument for greater use of texting in recruiting in TEXT MESSAGING: ALMOST DEAD OR ALIVE AND KICKING?
That will do it for this hump day. I hope I have helped you learn a little bit today.
A hat tip to Jon Hyman for pointing these great posts out.
Another court interprets Title VII as protecting sexual orientation.
In Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, there is no expressed protection for sexual orientation. However, during the Obama administration, the EEOC ruled that sexual orientation is protected under sexual discrimination provisions of Title VII. When the country switched over to the Trump administration, the Department of Justice said that sexual orientation is not covered by Title VII. This position led to the EEOC and the DOJ going head-to-head in court. Did this court battle settle this issue? The answer is both yes and no.
How many Courts of Appeals?
In the Federal system, there are 13 courts of appeals. Eleven of these are the numbered courts we hear about all the time. These have geographical boundaries. There is a court of appeals for Washington, D.C. and then another for the Federal system. Generally, the cases we hear the most about are the first 11 that cover the states. When a case is decided in a district the results of that case only apply to the residents and organizations that reside in that district. If the case is then appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, if they decided to hear the case, then their decision is what may apply to the entire United States. (I am sure I have simplified this process, my apologies to my attorney friends.) To date three of the 11 numbered circuits have ruled on the question of sexual orientation.
The Eleventh Circuit agreed with the Department of Justice, saying that sexual orientation is not protected by Title VII. Two other circuits, the 7th, which covers Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana, and the 2nd Circuit, which covers New York, Vermont, and Connecticut, have both ruled that sexual orientation is covered by sexual discrimination. The case in the 2nd Circuit is where the DOJ and the EEOC went head-to-head. You can read more here and here. The second article is particularly interesting because the writer, attorney Robin Shea, constructs an entire debate around the argument. She suspects, as do I, that we will see more cases being brought until at some point the U.S. Supreme Court will be forced to hear a case and render a decision.
I have long said that as the tide of public opinion swings in favor of protected sexual orientation that we would see court cases and eventually legislation offering that coverage. With a Supreme Court ruling on such a case, we will have the interpretation that sexual orientation is already covered by legislation through Title VII, making any further legislation unnecessary. Only time will tell.
The skill of being empathetic should be taught to all leaders.
I am reading the book Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft. He covers quite a bit in the book, ending with a discussion of artificial intelligence, which is the reason I bought the book. Early on, however, Nadella talks about the discovered importance to him of empathy and it got me thinking about the future of leadership and HR.
Dictionary.com defines empathy as “the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” Its root words are the Greek word empátheia meaning affection, and the word páschein meaning to suffer.
It has long been considered in American business that there was no place for empathy, at least not on the leadership level. In business biographies of J.P. Morgan, Carnegie, and Rockefeller, it is doubtful you will find chapters on their use of empathy. But as business has evolved, along with legislation, we have seen more and more calls for empathetic practices. We see it in legislation. I think the root of the FMLA and the ACA, and the proposed Workflex in the 21st Century Act is empathy.
More leaders expressing empathy
In his book, Nadella talks about his personal approach to leadership. He says:
My personal philosophy and my passion, developed over time and through exposure t many different experiences, is to connect new ideas with a growing sense of empathy for other people. Ideas excite me. Empathy grounds and centers me.
After relating his some of his life experience with disabilities, discrimination, people in developing countries he goes on to say:
My passion is to put empathy at the center of everything I pursue – from the products we launch, to the new markets we enter, to the employees, customers, and partners we work with.
…the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.
More and more in HR literature and training, emotional intelligence is being identified as critically important. The SHRM certification material says that “Without EI, the behaviors needed to support a global mindset or diversity in the workplace- EMPATHY, cooperation, willingness to learn about and accept differences – are practically impossible.” (My emphasis in caps.)
Empathy is a critical part of the leadership and HR in today’s world. More needs to be done to make sure that organizations demonstrate empathy as a core value. I know it has not been my strong suit in the past, but as things have changed I have come to recognize the value to business and to my personal life of the value of empathy. We need to work on instilling this in our business life and making sure that leaders are trained in the importance and value of empathy.
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