Preparing for Workplace Violence

Today’s working environment is much different from what the baby boomer generation was used to. Significant changes in culture, societal norms, and technology have made it critical for employers to keep up with emergent needs in the workplace. And workplace safety is certainly one of the top concerns that you should address.

There are many different threats that your workers face on a daily basis. From the possibility of an active shooting to physical abuse between colleagues, employers need to be proactive when dealing with challenges in the workplace.

Creating a plan for workplace safety is a comprehensive approach. It involves robust policies, employee training, and effective communication. These elements all come together to help deter acts of workplace violence before they occur.

Types of workplace violence

Safety in the workplace has become a top concern for many stakeholders. This means that unions, local authorities, OSHA, and employees themselves consider safe working conditions a top priority. Workplace violence can be described as any activity that causes physical, emotional, or psychological harm.

This definition of workplace violence has expanded over the years. Indeed, what may have been previously considered “acceptable” or “ignorable” may now be an explicit form of violence in the workplace. Furthermore, such violence can also occur outside of work and still affect the working conditions of an employee.

Employers need to be aware that workplace violence includes more than just physical abuse. Many forms of emotional and psychological abuse (such as bullying, insults, and surveillance) also fall under the definition of workplace violence.

Some common types of workplace violence include:

  • Physical abuse and threats of physical harm
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual assault and violence
  • Domestic abuse
  • Stalking

How to prepare for (and prevent) workplace violence

Being prepared for workplace violence is the best way of avoiding tragic and costly events. Here’s how you can remain ahead of risks that may affect your employees.

1. Have clear policies in place

Safety starts with having detailed policies in the workplace. From restricting visitor movement to banning weapons, you should take time to develop and inform your workers about what they can and cannot do. You may also need to consider conduct that happens outside the workplace. For example, domestic violence cases may have implications on the perpetrator and the victim when they go to work.

2. Train your employees

Regular training is critical to workplace safety. Sensitizing your employees about types of violence and their associated consequences can help minimize violence in the workplace.

3. Communication is key

Thanks to technology, you can take advantage of emergency communication tools when responding to acts of violence. As a simple example, text messages and voice calls can be automatically sent to workers if a shooting happens. “Panic buttons” can also be activated to alert security personnel in real time if an employee commits violence.

4. Develop a disaster response plan

Finally, make sure you have a disaster response plan to address incidences of violence. This may include partnering with a security firm, having emergency exits in your building, or creating “safe zones” where unauthorized personnel can’t access.

This article is brought to you by COMPackage, the leader in DIY total compensation reports. Help your recruiting and retention efforts by clearly showing your employees and recruits the total package you offer.

How Savvy Companies Are Winning the Battle for Talent

Recruiting Millennials As the economy continues to improve, the need for young skilled workers is rising. For many companies, the need for finding, hiring, and retaining workers can be challenging. Compound this by the changes in needs and expectations that Millennial and Gen Z workers have brought to the workplace, and you have the perfect storm.

Today, companies need to look beyond compensation when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. You need to look at your corporate philosophy and culture. To win the battle for the top talent, you need to build a strong employer brand.

Here are a few ways savvy companies are winning the battle for talent.

Offer Clarity to Applicants about Your Company’s Core Values

When you have a clear set of defined values and are open and honest with applicants before and during interviews, both prospective hires and those doing the hiring will have a clear idea if they fit before actually working together.

The key is to make sure that the values you’re expressing are authentic. Imitating another businesses’ value set is a big mistake. If you haven’t already done so, take some time to spell out your company’s core values. Speak with your standout team members and ask them what keeps them around; you’ll likely begin to notice distinct patterns.

Once you’ve defined your core values, make sure you walk the walk! Live your values day-in and day-out. Many companies have a list of core values, but what matters is that they are grounded in behaviors. For example, if you say you’re committed to personal growth, but do not have a budget to pay for employees to take courses, your candidates will see right through it.

As past CEO of Pittsburgh’s leading advertising agency, and now President of this blog’s host, COMPackage.com, we developed eight core values at my agency by pulling the management team together and throwing everything at the wall that represented any of their core values here. Then we asked the question: can we operate without this one, and that one. We came down to eight that we could not live without. That was after combining terms like honesty, truthfulness, integrity as one (Integrity). There were several like that. We probably started with over 50, and condensed it to eight. Then we came up with a term that the first letter of each spelled that term, and drilled “GOT RICE” into everyone’s minds, so that they could all probably today recite at least five out of eight of them… and that was over 20 years ago! Email me if you want to know what GOT RICE stands for. Or tell me, and I might send you a gift. J

What Today’s Talent is Looking For

Smart HR professionals are highlighting cultures that reflect the needs and expectations of Millennials and Gen Z workers. Beyond the basics of being a great place to work, what these newest members of the workforce are seeking are:

  • Work/Life Balance – While these workers are dedicated and hard-working, it’s important for companies to understand that they have a life outside of work. Policies like flex time, telecommuting, and the ability to donate time to causes they believe in are important differentiators that can help you attract talent.
  • A Strong Sense of Social Responsibility – Companies that are diverse in their hiring, support their local communities, and/or offer paid time off for employees to donate their time are attractive to potential hires. Millennials and Gen Z workers value businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible.
  • Safety and Respect in the Workplace – In a respectful workplace, employees are more engaged and productive. Treating your workers with respect can instill confidence and offer much-needed encouragement. Workers who feel safe and respected while at work, are more satisfied. Respect improves knowledge sharing and boosts the bottom line!
  • The Ability to Advance Their Career – While both Millennials and Gen Z prefer to work independently, both are looking for guidance. Mentorship programs where new hires are paired with experienced employees are an attractive benefit. Offering a program where employees can switch their core focus is also a big draw. For example, Newmark, a real estate firm, offers a two-year program where employees switch positions every six-months to learn about the business, and also to identify where they excel.

While compensation is secondary for a large percentage of millennials and others, it’s still a significant factor. So it’s essential to make sure you show them the total value of their package that includes benefits beyond their paychecks. Total compensation reports are the way to do it.

As the workforce continues to tighten, companies must begin to think beyond compensation to attract and retain the best talent. By defining your company’s core values, and implementing policies that today’s workers are seeking, you can begin to win the battle for the top talent.

The Six Top Things to Look For in Employee Benefits Statement Software

Employee Benefits SoftwareMorale remains high when turnover is low. One way to keep it this way is through the high quality administration of benefits. The quality of your benefits delivery is completely dependent on the software you choose.

When choosing your company’s employee benefits statement software it is critical to verify that you have the tools to fully cover all of the benefits that your company offers.

This is why it is a critical step to choose the employee benefits statement software that will streamline, empower and support the confidence of the folks you already have, and for those you will hire in the future.

Check Your Requirements

Here are six of the most important considerations when implementing employee benefits statement software.

  • Cloud-based or SAAS solutions put the burden of maintaining your software onto your vendor, not on your IT people.
  • Use tools that reduce the costs of administration by reducing errors and extra steps.
  • Include the ability to add all kinds of benefits – even free coffee and free parking.
  • Present the information in a way that is easily “gettable” and memorable by each employee.
  • Reduce any extra strain on the HR department. Give them tools that are intuitive.
  • Utilize easy-to-learn, intuitive solutions for administrators and employee end-users alike. If it’s not easy-to-used, it may not get used.

Stay Ahead of the Competition

When a company has the ability to quickly and easily enroll and stabilize new employees by choosing the right employee benefits software – you dramatically increase the competitive edge for your company.

HR department administrators who choose exactly the right employee benefits software secure an ease and grace for internal benefits delivery processes. This increases the sense of confidence and accuracy for the employees they serve.

Employee benefits statement solutions, like those from COMPackage are designed to increase transparency. Support your employees confidence by delivering explanations in their compensation package instantly, regularly and repeatedly.

How Benefit Statement Software Can Change the Way Employees View Compensation

Benefits on SignsMost employees think of salary-plus-benefits as payment for services rendered when they think of compensation. They’re correct of course, but it’s much more than that.

What most employees don’t realize is that compensation is always evolving. The package they received upon getting hired won’t always stay that way. Employers must keep them abreast with any updates on benefits required by law, as well as with any changes in the metrics for competitive benchmarking. They should also be aware of new workplace trends that can affect benefits, like the rising popularity of remote work which gives way to more flexible scheduling options, or the increasing automation of tasks which gives more time for learning and training. Aside from that, employers should also adjust compensation for employees who moved up the corporate ladder, or who showed exceptional performance worthy of recognition.

It’s for these reasons why using benefit statement software is important for the compensations and benefits (C&B) department of any company with employees on its payroll. C&B administration is a continuous process, not a one-time implementation. Because it’s a process, records should be kept and archived, ready to be referred to whenever necessary. Reports should also be easily generated for analysis and other purposes.

But it’s not the C&B department who stands to gain the most when a company decides to use benefit statement software. The biggest winners are the employees who are most likely not aware of the full extent of the perks they’re entitled to for various reasons. These can include:

  • They were not informed.
  • They were informed but they forgot.
  • They misunderstood what they had been told.
  • They didn’t know some benefits are opt-in.
  • They planned to opt-in for said benefits but never got around to it.
  • And so on.

And even if they are aware of all the perks they’re getting, they may not necessarily be aware of the actual monetary value. For example, an employee making $60,000 a year may jump at a chance to move to a competitor offering $70,000 – if they fail to factor in the monetary value of their benefits. If their current company offers perks equivalent to 50% of their salary, their total compensation package is worth $90,000. If the competitor offers perks equivalent to 25% of the proposed salary, the total compensation package is worth $87,500, which is lower than what the current company already gives. Here, the current company wins. But of course, without knowing the value of their benefits, the employee will simply see that $60,000 is lower than $70,000, and therefore not worth staying for.

Companies lose top talent this way. With only partial information, employees can make hasty decisions that have a negative impact on their career without realizing it right away. Fortunately, the use of benefit statement software can put together the complete big picture along with the little details so that employees can not only make informed decisions, but also appreciate much more what they’re already receiving. It will make them change the way they view compensation.

Alternatives to the 40-hour Workweek

Challenging 40 hour workweekThe world is in flux, and it is not surprising that the structure of the traditional workweek is changing too. The 40-hour workweek has shaped the foundation of the professional landscape for ages. Employees and employers have equally benefitted from this working schedule, but it could be time to ditch it. As the nature of work changes, there’s a need for the workforce to ask if the work model still makes sense.

The shift to other alternatives to the 40-hour workweek is evident in giant companies. Cloud computing company Salesforce, for example, is among the many giants that recently announced a shift in work hours. According to the company, the 9-5 schedule is dead.

In another case study, the Tower Paddle Boards founder recognized a disconnect between his company brand and its culture. Although he was selling a product that promoted work-life balance, he was not nurturing the same concept among his employees. Consequently, Stephan Aarstol decided to reduce the daily working hours from eight to five hours.

Why is the 40-Hour Workweek Dying?

Many reasons explain why the workplace is experiencing a shift in the regular working schedule. The rise of remote work is one factor that has provided flexibility now more than ever. Many organizations and employers now understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all work schedule.

The 40-hour workweek also seems to be a threat to productivity. Most employees who conform to the schedule do so out of peer pressure or pressure from management to work harder or stay later. In real life, it’s illogical to try to compartmentalize the natural flow of work. This leads to employee burnout, less individual efficiency, less creative stimulation, and more distractions.

Alternatives to the Traditional Workweek

Fortunately, many employers have realized the inefficiency in the 40-hour workweek and are striking new ground for the traditional schedule. Some companies, especially startups, have adopted new radical approaches, and they seem to be coping just fine. Here are some examples.

1) The 21-Hour Week

According to the New Economics Foundation, the 21-hour week is the new standard for the 21st century. Apart from creating gender equality, the schedule can help countries decarbonize by cutting down on daily commutes. It would also help in the even spread of resources and labor, making workers happier and more productive.

On its downside, this arrangement is more of a part-time approach to working. Employees must also be able to take a pay cut. However, they’ll have more work-life balance and will ultimately be happier.

2) Four-Day Three-Day or Compressed Workweek

Instead of working eight hours, five days a week, companies are implementing a 4 10-hour or 3 12-hour week. The schedule is structured, and employees choose which days of the week they report to the office and take the rest of the time off. The plan is a viable alternative to companies trying to maximize productivity.

3) Flex-Time or Employee Vote

Flex-time is ambiguous in definition, but it revolves around letting employees choose their working hours. They work as they deem fit, which implies working earlier sometimes, later at other times, and longer or shorter hours. For the successful implementation of this schedule, there’s a need for a high trust level in the workers to be responsible. The potential benefits when this happens are limitless.

4) 35-Hour Workweek

Another alternative is to let employees leave for home on Friday at lunch. This means more productivity as it gets them close to a schedule that gives them more time to rest. It’s easier to make a case for a 35-hour workweek than employers might think.

5) The Seven-Day Workweek

For some people, working a few hours every day can solve the problem of the short weekend. When the Covid-19 pandemic came, weekends started feeling exactly like weekdays, only with less work. The lockdown saw them getting up early on Saturday and Sunday to put in a few hours of work before getting into leisure activities. For some, this did wonders for their mental health and helped them relax even more.

This can work for a majority of people post the pandemic times. A majority of Americans check their office email outside office hours, so why not embrace this alternative? For example, 8 a.m. to 1.p.m. daily might be what people need.

6) Working Remotely or Telework

When employees work from home, they’re free from the many distractions they get in the office. They can focus better on the tasks at hand and accomplish a lot more with flexibility and autonomy. The employee works on a pre-set schedule or has a limited time frame to complete their work.

Final Thoughts

Employers can maximize efficiency by thinking about viable alternatives to the 40-hour workweek. The above are some possible options, but a company’s ultimate path depends on its culture. The decision will also be influenced by how open the employer is to experimentation and trial and error. One thing remains certain: the aspects of the traditional 40-hour workweek are dying, and it is time to embrace change.

When it comes to recruiting and retaining employees, this is one of the many perks that can set your company apart. Document the rest to make it evident to your employees by using Total Compensation Reports, like those offered by COMPackage.

Unemployment Compensation Keeps People from Coming to Work. What Can I Do About It?

Work Piling UpUnemployment compensation offers workers a safety net should they lose their jobs due to no fault of their own. A CARES Act provision offers eligible unemployed workers a weekly federal benefit of $600 on top of the state unemployment benefits.

The expanded unemployment compensation is a lifeline for many workers in the unemployment lines. However, there is a major unintended effect of unemployment compensation and the CARES Act. As the economy slowly reopens in different states, some recalled workers don’t go back to work.

Why Some Employees Refuse to Return to Work

While some workers site safety concerns over COVID-19, others don’t want to return since they’re making more money from unemployment benefits. In some cases, they make significantly more money than they earned while working. As such, there is no incentive to return to work.

A percentage of these workers are inclined to stay on unemployment as they earn more money by so doing. Unemployment compensation lasts for 26 weeks, with the CARES Act adding another 13 weeks. Workers tend to exit the unemployment benefits around the expiry time.

What Can I Do?

Preliminarily, it would be best if you first determined the reasons for the employees’ refusal to return to work. Document your request for them to return including the terms of the request. If your request is rejected, document the rejection of the offer and the reasons provided for rejecting the offer.

This information will be crucial in case you need to dispute an unemployment claim. It will also be useful if an employee later claims that they were wrongfully terminated. Note that some reasons for refusal are, or may be, protected legally. Other reasons aren’t.

Workers who refuse to return to work just because they want to stay on unemployment benefits aren’t legally protected. In such cases, you can require these employees to return to work or risk losing their jobs. These employees risk forfeiting eligibility for supplemental unemployment benefits if they still refuse to return to work.

The U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance on how state unemployment agencies should handle these cases. There are cases where refusal to return to work is protected under the CARES Act. The reasons include those directly related to COVID-19. General fear of the virus and desire to continue receiving benefits don’t constitute qualifying reasons.

If your employees give reasons that are not justified in the CARES Act, you can consider reporting the matter to the state workforce agency. You should make it clear that the worker was offered the opportunity to return to work and refused. You are required, by some state workforce agencies, to report occurrences of refusal.

However, it’s important to handle workers that express fear of the virus delicately. While general fear of the virus isn’t protected, some workers may have specific reasonable reasons.  Perhaps the employee has an underlying health condition that increases their susceptibility to complications from the virus, like a compromised immune system.

You can handle these scenarios as you would other accommodation requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state law. Reasonable accommodation can include leave of absence or teleworking.

You should also ensure that your organization is taking all the necessary steps to provide a safe work environment and incentive to return. Workers are legally protected under the Occupational Safety and Health Act if they assert that the employer isn’t doing so. Failure to handle such cases appropriately may lead to complaints, among other things.

There aren’t any easy answers here. It’s clear that the unemployment issue will get worse before improving. Also, every worker will have a different incentive to go back to work. All in all, when workers refuse to come back to work, you should first inquire as to the reasons why. Ensure that you carefully document the issues and respond in a reasonable yet appropriate manner.

If your employees are dodging work because they don’t feel safe, consider using CleanRated.com to show employees and customers what you are doing to keep people safe.

It’s also important to make sure employees know all the benefits they are getting with your company. Total compensation statements, like those offered by COMPackage.com, can help an employee see how generous the company has been in terms of the value of the many benefits (obvious, and not-so-obvious) you provide. Perhaps that will tip the scales in their decision to return to work.

The ideas expressed in this article are meant to stimulate thinking. Nothing in this article should be taken as professional legal advice.

What might be the impact of a $15/hr. minimum wage on your company?

Speed Limit sign with $15 per hourRaising the minimum wage has been an often discussed topic among politicians, business owners, and corporations. This is a policy that would affect how many companies conduct business. In 2014, Seattle set the bar by passing a law that gradually increased the minimum wage from just over $9 in 2014 to $15 an hour in 2021.

On the federal level, this idea had been floated in Congress for several years, culminating in H.R. 582, which was introduced in January of 2019. H.R. 582, also known as the “Raise the Wage Act,” set a six-step, phased-in increase of the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour by 2024 passed the Democratically controlled House; but it was killed by the Republicans in the Senate in 2019.

However, the Seattle law gained new attention with then-Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. As the Biden administration takes power and the Democrats assume control of both the House and Senate, the $15 an hour minimum wage is again in play.

The Pros and Cons of a Minimum Wage Increase for Your Business

As with any law, there are both pros and cons to increasing the minimum wage for businesses, employees, and consumers.

It’s important to look at and understand all sides of this type of federal mandate.

Pros

Higher Wages Boost the Economy

Paying people the funds needed to pay their bills and purchase products, goods, and services is a great way to boost the economy. An increased minimum wage gives workers more buying power and can provide an uptick in the economy through increased spending.

More Jobs

Economic stimulation due to increased purchasing power can increase demand for products and services. This can lead to job creation to keep up with demand.

Help to Employees and Their Families

Along with increased purchasing power, employees and families benefit. An increased minimum wage helps with price inflation and the inevitable increase in the cost of living.

There are also some potential downsides that need to be considered with a significant increase in the minimum wage, including the following.

Cons

Higher Product Costs

Increased minimum wages increase overhead costs. This can result in a higher product price which must then be passed on to consumers.

A Stalled Job Market

Because of increased business costs, companies could potentially freeze hiring to keep costs under control.

Increased Outsourcing

The cost of outsourcing is less than the cost of new hires. Rather than a hiring freeze, companies could increase outsourcing to control costs.

Some Additional Benefits for Businesses 

On top of the pros above, there are additional benefits for your employees and your business from raising the minimum wage. Higher paid employees feel more job satisfaction. With it comes higher levels of collaboration, creativity, and communication. Satisfied employees are likely to remain loyal, lower turnover, and help your business by lowering hiring and training costs.

Higher wages can also lead to higher motivation and better performance. This is especially beneficial if your employees were working multiple jobs to pay their bills. Higher wages may allow some employees to give up their side jobs and focus on your company.

Many business owners and economists believe that a minimum wage increase is inevitable. It’s important to prepare your business now to be in a position to absorb rising operating costs.

Preparing now can help you prevent the need to pivot at the last minute when the new minimum wage goes into effect. Not only will you put your business in a stronger position, but your employees will also appreciate that you care enough about them to prepare.

It’s also important to make sure employees know all the benefits they are getting with your company. A total compensation statement, like those offered by COMPackage.com, can an employee see how generous the company has been in terms of the value of the many benefits (obvious, and not-so-obvious) you provide.

6 Great Ways to Get Employees to Come Back to Work During Covid

Employees Coming to WorkAs businesses partially or fully reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, they face the extraordinary challenge of convincing their employees it’s safe to come back to work. Covid has affected everyone in different ways, and while some employees are excited to come back, others feel overwhelmed by the prospect. Here are some ways to encourage your employees to get them to resume work.

1. Reassure Your Employees

Many employees are anxious and fearful about going back to work, fearing that they may contract the virus. You can reassure them by letting them know what plans and measures you’ve put in place to keep them safe at work. Tools like CleanRated can help. Safety measures may include:

  • Implementing employee health screening procedures
  • Establishing social distancing measures like restructuring workstations
  • Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, face shields, hand sanitizers, and gloves
  • Providing disinfectant wipes to employees
  • Having workspaces deep cleaned every day
  • Developing a response plan for employee exposure

2. Embrace Flexible Working Schedules

If your employees have been working at home, coming back to work full-time can prove challenging to some. To make it easy, you can have your employees split their time working remotely and at the office during the week. You can also introduce staggered shifts, where employees have a different start, break and finish times. You may have a certain number of employees come in every day or have others come early or late. This can help ease congestion at the workplace so you can better keep your employees safe.

3. Provide Emotional and Mental Support

In the wake of the Covid crisis, many employees are struggling with re-entry anxiety. This refers to the dread employees may feel about returning to work during a pandemic. You need to show your employees that you care about their mental and emotional well-being. You can do this by providing mental health and wellness services to your employees at no charge to them. Cover their visits to telehealth mental health professionals or web-based meditation classes.

4. Offer Childcare Assistance

With many schools and child care centers closed, working parents are faced with hard choices regarding their children’s care. You can help your employees by offering childcare assistance in the form of virtual or in-home childcare. Knowing that their children will be taken care of can motivate your employees to come to work. You can also allow parents to have flexible work schedules if you can’t provide childcare assistance. You can work with parents to come up with flexible arrangements like shifting hours so they can come in early or late.

5. Keep Open Communication

You need to keep your communication open and transparent. Communicate clearly and often using multiple channels to avoid misinformation. When conveying safety-related messages, also include an inspiring message to keep up their spirits. Express empathy to your employees and your appreciation for their services.

Show your employees that you care about them and let them know that management is willing to listen and address any issues where possible. Provide channels to freely express their concerns, such as via the HR, manager, or a safety committee. When employees know that superiors hear their voice and their needs and concerns are met, they will be more comfortable returning to work.

6. Change Your Policies

If you don’t provide family medical leave, paid sick leave, medical insurance, or hazard pay, you might want to start doing so now. Your employees are dealing with a lot, and providing these incentives can go a long way in getting them to come back to work.

Conclusion

It’s important to acknowledge that this is a difficult time and your employees are scared of returning to work. To get them to come back to work, you need to show them that you care about their safety and that you’ve taken steps to protect them. You also need to provide them additional support like mental health services, childcare assistance, and paid sick leave.

It’s also important to make sure employees know what they are getting with your company. A total compensation statement, like those offered by COMPackage.com, can an employee see how generous the company has been in terms of the value of the many benefits (obvious, and not-so-obvious) you provide.

Managing the Impact of Polarizing Politics in the Workplace

The Impact of Polarization Politics on the Workforce

Today America is an incredibly politically polarized country. With each passing day, the gap between liberal and conservatives widens. Each morning, Republicans view Democrats as crazy, wrong-headed people while Democrats see them as wrong, misguided people. This increasing political gap is not about to go anywhere. If anything, it’s slowly finding its way in the once bipartisan American workforce. That said, what is the impact of polarization politics on your workforce?

The Effect of Polarization Politics on the Workforce

Americans have always been bipartisan people. They are therefore used to working in environments where most of their workmates either share similar political opinions, or even if they support different parties, they find a common working ground. However, as noted, the gap between Republicans and Democrats, liberals, and conservatives is wider today more than any other time in American history. The effects of this increasing polarization on the workplace are both positive and negative as explained below.

The Dark Side

In the past, employees only worried about the future of their jobs. Today, the increasing political polarization means that they are more concerned about the future of the country. Democrats think that the nation is in the wrong hands while Republicans believe that they are right.

These different perspectives mean that it becomes hard to become innovative and boost productivity when all anyone wants to discuss is the state of political affairs. As you know, a key ingredient to productivity in the workplace is teamwork. Unfortunately, the more politically opposed employees are, the harder it becomes for them to work together, which in turn affects the entity’s success.

The Bright Side

On the bright side, if managed well, a politically polarized team can also be a blessing to your business. This is because they both bring different ideas and viewpoints to the table, which in turn benefits your business. Also, politically polarized teams are likely to argue out any workplace policies before they are implemented, which means that the workplace becomes a free and fair working environment for all.

Managing a Politically Polarized Team

How do you ensure that you only reap the benefits of political polarization and don’t end up with a dysfunctional team that can barely work together?

  1. Let the World Know. Let your commitment to political diversity be known to all. In all job application forms, and during candidate interviews, let those aspiring to join your team know what’s on the table.  That way, they can choose to walk away early if they prefer environments where everyone supports a particular party. If they decide to take the deal, also let them know about the regulations on political conversations.
  2. Strike a Balance in Political Diversity. As mentioned, the impact of polarization politics can be both beneficial and at the same time, may have adverse effects on your team. To reap the benefits, striking a balance is vital. In other words, you ought to make the most out of political diversity by striking a balance in your workforce.Hiring one Republican when the rest of the workforce is made of Democrats will only put them in an awkward position. Hiring a single conservative when the rest of your employees are liberals will only force them to choose sides. Therefore, the key to managing and making the most of political polarization is maintaining a politically diverse team.
  3. Set the Rules. As mentioned, each party thinks their side of politics is better than the other. Therefore a simple conversation on last night’s news headlines during lunch or tea break could quickly go from zero to 100, leaving your team miserably divided and consequently affecting productivity.  Therefore, while striking a balance is a step in the right direction to making the most out of political diversity, it’s not enough. Ensure you set clear boundaries about political conversations in the workplace. To prevent them from escalating and affecting your workforce, have clear rules that dictate respectful conversations; and, enforce them by outlining what happens when one violates the rules.

Finally

Political polarization in the workplace is now a reality. The sooner we accept this, the easier it will be to weed out the adverse effects. Fortunately, managing political polarization is not rocket science. It takes simple steps, such as ensuring everyone you hire is aware of the work environment they are about to join, striking a balance, and setting clear, concise rules.

Working from Home: How will you maximize the NEW Normal?

COVID Work From HomeIt’s likely that for the next 9 to 24 months, social distancing will become the standard that we will all need to learn to live by. The New Normal. What might this look like in the workplace?

Depending on what your company does, and how many of those functions work, it will be different. But no one will want to work on top of others near term if they don’t have to. Not until this virus is eradicated. Not until it’s gone!

So, companies are going to have to think differently. What are the opportunities presented by this New Normal? I’ve got a couple of ideas for you.

One is a new take on an old idea, namely “shifting.” This is where, in order to maintain more distance from coworkers by having fewer people in the office, people come and leave in shifts. Even if you’re just going to be open from nine to five, you might have some people working in the office for a half day and at home the other half. Or you might have some people come into the office on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and some come in on Tuesday and Thursday.

And while this is not possible for all staff, or all circumstances, anything that can increase productivity, while thinning out workplace congregation will help. Then social distancing at work may have a better chance of working.

Then there’s another perspective to consider:  employees, including some of your best employees, who no longer want to come to work because of fear of COVID-19. This might become a larger issue. They want to work at home as often as they can so that they can control their own social distancing requirement.

So, allow me to propose this concept: a formula for work–at–home compensation that might improve productivity – even after the threat of the virus has gone.

First, let’s take stock. Not all employees are great employees. In fact, if you follow many business theories, as I do:

  • 20% of our workforce is GREAT! True performers.
  • 60% of our workforce are at least not bad. They get the job done. You wouldn’t want to fire them, but when they say they are leaving, you say, “Ok. Best to you”, and probably replace them with someone better if the market will allow.
  • And the remaining 20% are those that you should be looking to replace anyway but are too lazy to do so.

The other insight I want to suggest, is that “full productivity” in my past experience as a business owner, is about 65%. If I can get 65% of true quality output out of an employee in a 40-hour week, that’s an employee that I made money on. Around 20% of my employees could produce north of 80%. Roughly 60% of my employees top 50%. Some 20% of my employees can seldom get to 50% productivity.

In my day, I used to always say that what we do from 9:00 – 5:00 covers our costs, and real profits were made in the time spent beyond that, time spent working beyond a 40-hour week. But your numbers are unique to your business. And how to measure some things are often impossible in a work from home situation.

So, here’s the idea:

While the average salary in America today is $56,000 (and change), for simplicity sake, let’s use $100,000 so that we all can follow along easier. Then you can apply a real salary to a real employee in your own situation.

Evaluate what they do that’s measurable and what they do that’s not. Maybe half their job is not measurable but half is. So, 20 hours a week they perform tasks that have to get done or it just backs up. They know it, and you know it. But, there’s no measurable value to it.

We all have it. But, as a business owner, we pay them to do it. Filing, going to the bathroom, cleaning off their desk, sitting in a staff meeting, reading email memo’s, catching up on company business, walk-around management / business socialization. Stuff! You can’t get around it.

So, working from home, you could thereby change their base to $50,000 (50%) to do all the non-measurable stuff.

Now, for things they do that make you money. Those tasks that, if your people could do more of, you could pay them more – in a win-win way. Get out more essential reports. Serve more customer issues. Output more revenue-generating work – or help their manager output more revenue-generating work.

For the measurable tasks, the stuff that they do for the primary part of their job half the time, pay them more per function when they output more, and less when they output less. You figure out the numbers per the situation.

The outcome: people working from home will focus more on the important work because they earn more, even while they’re still responsible for the non-measurable tasks.

You might need a few less people, because people will focus on performance-based output, and less on business socialization. Some will cry foul because now they earn less. You look at those situations, and conclude which ones you either change the formula, or change the employee. Both are worth the evaluation.

The New Normal is not going away soon. People will insist to stay out of harm’s way, or you will want your people to stay out of harm’s way. You just need to rethink compensation to make it all happen in a profitable manner.

What do you think?